Many are pleased to see the passing of 2009, a challenging year by all standards. The majority of the firms Madison Advisors has worked with in the past year have identified that cutting cost is still a major area of focus in their new strategies for 2010. It's not surprising, then, that transactional print and mail, specifically postage expenditure, is being scrutinized as a major opportunity for cutting costs.
Our 2009 Print Suppression Market Study focused on exactly this topic. In the study, we surveyed 27 key Fortune 500 firms on their print suppression strategies. While the majority of firms surveyed identified print suppression as a focus area, based on our analysis few have fully developed the long-term strategies, initiatives and plans required to support print suppression. Conversely, some organizations have implemented some great print suppression programs that are bearing fruit in ongoing expense reductions. Those that have demonstrated success now struggle to maintain those rates, and we believe that some key factors must be addressed to maintain long-term results.
An obvious barrier to reaching suppression goals is the limited involvement by senior leadership. We asked about the existence of a C-level executive responsible for customer communication, to determine whether e-delivery and print suppression have visibility at the top levels of organizations. Overwhelmingly, the answer is no; just 14% of companies surveyed have that level of ownership.
Another key area of consideration is budget allocation. While multi-channel delivery is a priority for most companies surveyed, budget allocations vary. Sixty-three percent of companies have some level of budget allocated specifically to e-delivery or paperless initiatives. The remaining 37% do not budget specifically for e-delivery; instead, e-delivery programs or multi-channel projects are monitored and funded as part of other, existing initiatives.
This variance in budgeting was also reflected in the ability of surveyed organizations to track savings associated with paperless initiatives. A number of companies are tracking response and user rates but do not yet have the robust mechanisms needed to give visibility to savings associated with e-delivery efforts. The lack of such metrics makes it difficult to justify spending or calculate firm returns on those investments.
These are just a few success factors required, but the reality is that organizations need fully developed strategies with executive support, metrics for measuring success and the right practices in place to ensure a permanent shift to paperless communications. Without these items in place, organizations are likely to see early successes with their print suppression initiatives, but they will then see customers revert back to paper once the initial thrust has passed.
Kemal Carr [firstname.lastname@example.org] is the president of Madison Advisors, an advisory firm that specializes in print and electronic communications. Kemal also acts as a principal analyst for Madison Advisors. He provides project-based advisory services designed to assist clients with business strategy and technology selection decisions. For more information on Madison Advisors, visit www.madison-advisors.com.