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    What are the requirements of document composition?

    On the LinkedIn Group "Document Composition Professionals", a question was posted: "What are the minimum requirements that are needed in a Document Composition tool?"

    Most people gave a fairly conventional answer. To me, the most important response was from Scott Draeger: "Aside from thinking about document software, we have to account for considerable changes to what people call a document. Today, some companies are splitting up paper, email, web portal, mobile, and tablet versions of the same communication. That's a lot of people doing the same type of work. In the next few years, I see that as a cost that will be targeted for reduction. "


    It's a very interesting topic that allowed me to make our vision very clear. This is exactly what can we do today in Scriptura Engage and continue to work on towards the future. Here's my response:


    I totally agree with Scott Draeger's initial response. I talked about this topic before on XPlor 2013, and did a blogpost about it. Management summary: I speak about a document when it is paginated (on paper or electronically such as PDF), where a communication is more open in terms of visualization (like an email, text message, social media, electronic form). I do believe documents are going away.


    Ask youngsters how they know what happened on their bank account and see how few respond 'through my bank statements' and how many respond 'on my cellphone banking app'.

    Ok... so some of us don't seem to agree that documents are disappearing, because some still call them documents even if it's in non-printed format or non-paginated format. But we all seem to agree that there are new channels and different requirements for communications (on new types of channels and devices, such as email), as opposed to documents (old type printed or electronic paginated documents).


    So it makes sense to talk about the requirements for these new types of communications (which, after all, a list of requirements was the original question of Lawrence). So, coming back to the original question, I believe these are some important requirements:


    Responsive design

    (Amazing no one mentioned this!) Allowing that the layout of a communication changes depending on the device it's viewed on. Smartphone has a smaller screen, so the content needs to be narrower and more vertically stacked as opposed to a desktop screen that can have multiple objects side-by-side. And present this in a user friendly way to the business user.


    Testing on various devices

    Because the visualization of the communication will be different depending on which channel they are viewed on, and even depending which device they are viewed on, it is important to do things like Email Testing. With one click, see how the email will be visualized in 50+ email clients, so you can tweak until the experience is just right and brand identity is maintained.


    Interactive and dynamic communications

    An electronic device has the ability to let the reader of the communication interact with it. For example a dynamic statement where people can click on individual accounts or records to get more details, have embedded video, etc. But also electronic forms, where information can be collected



    Mobile is often mentioned as just another channel to present the same content. However, when doing mobile communications it is important that it works offline, because an internet connection is not always available. Also, very specific channels are required to do proper communication with mobile devices, such as Push Notifications, where you need to communication with Apple/Google/Microsoft to get the message delivered.


    Track responses in a scalable way

    Communication is not just about sending communications, but also tracking how people react to it. This data then becomes available in huge volumes, especially over time. Integration with scalable databases, and even big data, becomes important to drive future communications that improve the customer experience


    Multi-step communication

    Delivering a message does not involve just making one single choice which channel to use. Instead it requires delivering messages on different channels. A customer communication platform itself should drive delivery schedules, for example first delivering via email, but if the message bounces, falling back to a paper document and showing a message on that document that the specific email address no longer works, inviting people to update their content details/preferences on the website with a Personal URL.


    Do you agree? Any more specific requirements for these new channels?