shutterstock_223254706It’s a rarity that I’m at a conference as an attendee rather than an exhibitor or speaker.

So when I do get the chance I make the most of it.

Earlier this month I was able to do some exploring at Xploration 2016 in Orlando. If you are unfamiliar with Xplor, it’s one of the biggest conferences of the year with a focus on customer communications; bringing together thought leaders from the worlds of print, digital, mobile and social.

When I attend conferences, I like to write down little notes about “stuff I learned.” It’s helpful because when I get  back to Prime Data I can share loads of great information with staff. This keeps us ahead of the game and prepared for what’s coming next in the worlds of data and print.

But keeping this knowledge in-house seems like a waste. So here is the big list of 7 things I learned at Xplor 2016.

  1. In 2010 there were 3 billion impressions on colour inkjet. In 2015 that number jumped to a staggering 69 billion. So the next time somebody tells you that print is yesterday’s technology, quote those numbers back at them. Print isn’t going anywhere. And increased variability and deeper integration with data and web technologies is making it a critical piece of the modern marketing puzzle.
  2. Security is critical. There are over 20 different compliance ISO standards (containing over 100K rules). No two standards are the same and there’s not much agreement on uses. We’ve invested a lot of time and resources in our own security. But for most part,  it’s the wild west for compliance. So be careful.
  3. Customer experience seems to be a buzzword (“CX”) at this and other gatherings. CXOs are now finding their way into the C-suite because it’s so costly to lose customers. Variable print — which can be much more personal — improves the customer experience.
  4. Customer experience is more than a buzzword. Companies that perform better in CX can see up to a 107% 8-year stock performance boost (see Watermark Consulting’s What’s the ROI on Customer Experience?)
  5. Accessibility is marching forward at an amazing pace. There’s a neat new tool from Crawford Technologies that makes it easier for people with visual impairment to have complete accessibility options when reading their email. And it all starts with a simple barcode reader app on a smartphone.
  6. There’s no direct mail in India. Yep. This is probably the one thing that really surprised me. In a marketplace with 1.2 billion people there isn’t the infrastructure to handle it. The reasons for this are many. But it’s mostly because there were no chain stores or consumer economy until very recently. India’s Post Office just isn’t built for it.
  7. There is a company in Brazil (LaserPrint Brazil) that produces 3 billion statements a year! How do they do it? Well Brazil has one of the highest adoption rates for online bills and statements in the world, so this company has to accommodate this. To do this they send out hundreds of millions of emails a month.  

Bonus learning

Orlando is gorgeous in March.

If you were at Xplor I’d love to hear from you. If you want to know how we can help your company keep ahead of changes coming to the communications marketplace over the next few years, I’d also love to chat.

Steve Falk

sfalk@primedata.ca