A large national credit card company decided to take its customer statements and correspondence online. The projected benefits were tremendous: increased customer satisfaction, significantly reduced mail delivery charges, reduced inbound support calls, and a commitment to Green IT principles.

The organisation’s marketing department saw this as a terrific opportunity to inject highly valuable upsell/cross-sell messaging into their customer statements and correspondence. The format of choice to present to their customers would be PDF, the undisputed emerging leader in online document display (according to a recent AIIM research report). The executives and marketing people were delighted. The IT team was elated and the customer support people were relieved. What a wonderful solution they all agreed.

Somewhere between the business case and proof of concept, reality set in. The documents that were historically 30KB AFP print files turned into massive 1MB PDFs. The team quickly discovered they had grossly underestimated the storage requirements. As they simulated the projected 10 million online users accessing their monthly statement, they found that the sub-2 second online presentation SLA (service level agreement) was simply unachievable. The internal network could not handle the volume of data that was expected to move between the central Enterprise Content Management (ECM) document repository and the online customer web presence. Adding to the problem was the fact that there was no budget available to cope with the potential project cost overruns.

The parties sat around the table to try and understand where it all had gone horribly wrong and what could be done about it. The reality is, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the business case. The issues in fact all boiled down to the increased size of the PDF document format.

This is not an uncommon problem faced by businesses today. There is a dramatic rise in the volumes of highly composed, graphically-rich content being produced by today’s large organisations. It is expected that volumes will increase tenfold from 2006 levels by 2011. At the same time eDiscovery and compliance requirements mandate that content be stored and readily available for extended periods of time. The end result is that businesses are facing massive increases in storage requirements?along with the associated costs of managing that storage. Given this escalating growth, it is not surprising that large enterprises today are spending as much as 70% of their IT budgets on their storage infrastructures.

In conjunction with the increase in content volume and document size is the requirement to make business critical content available directly online. It is no longer a competitive advantage?it is an absolute imperative. Those organisations that lag behind self-service delivery are at risk of losing credibility with the ever-growing, technically savvy Internet generation. Enormous strain is being put on internal networks as organisations attempt to rapidly move massive amounts of customer facing content to the Web. Now more than ever, enterprises must re-evaluate their data and document storage needs and delivery requirements. They must look for effective ways to lower related costs and improve transmission performance. The question is ‘how?’

Compression and the adoption of format standards such as MPEG and JPEG enabled the video and graphics industry to reduce the size of media files. This has facilitated the delivery of graphically-rich content to consumers via the Internet and devices such as iPods. A similar approach holds true for enterprises producing large volumes of customer-facing content in the way of Document Storage Reduction (DSR). This is an approach that can reduce an organisation’s storage needs by as much as 90%, significantly lowering their storage costs and improving online performance access.

By way of explanation, the concept of DSR works as follows. Customer-facing documents such as credit card statements, cell phone bills, life insurance policies, or government tax documents are created in very large batches (often tens of thousands per run). Each document in the batch essentially has the identical look and feel (composition) but the data contained within each document is unique to a specific customer. Therefore these high-volume documents are made up of two major parts: transactional data, such as name, address, account number, purchase line items, totals etc.; and the composition resources within the document such as fonts, forms, logos or graphics. Within a typical high-volume, customer-facing document, the proportion of transactional data is usually much smaller than the composition resources.

Once produced, these tens of thousands of highly-composed documents are stored individually within an organisation’s ECM archive. This creates a massive redundant storage problem since the common resource elements within each document are being stored over and over again within the archive. This is simply not necessary.

Document Storage Reduction (DSR) separates transactional data from the common resource elements found within high-volume, customer-facing documents. By separating data from resources within a document set?and storing only one copy of the resources for the tens of thousands of documents within that set?the footprint required to store all of the documents is reduced significantly. As mentioned earlier, a savings of upwards of 90% is very common.

What remains is one single resource bundle for the whole set of documents and a number of much smaller-sized unique documents which contain the transactional data elements and pointers to the separately stored resources that have been removed. In order to view the document, DSR solutions pull together both the transactional data and the separated resources “on the fly” in any format desired by the customer for presentation?at amazing sub-second speed.

To improve online performance and reduce internal network congestion, DSR stores a copy of the common document resources on the web server that reassembles the document for display. When a document is requested for online presentment, only the smaller transactional data has to be moved across the internal network from the ECM repository, dramatically reducing internal network congestion.

DSR results in significant hard cost savings. These can easily be calculated by examining a given document type and multiplying the following factors:

– The number of documents in a given batch
– The average size of each document
– The number of times the batch is run each month
– The average storage cost (dependent upon architecture – £15/GB/month + is common)
– DSR Percentage (dependent upon composed nature of document – 90% + is common)
– Number of months the document is to be retained online

So with a DSR solution in the works, that large national credit card provider is now serving millions of online users with exceptional performance. The marketing group is elated with the advertising advantages they have received by implementing up-sell/cross-sell messaging. The IT Team is thrilled with the online performance and storage cost reduction; and millions of trees are being saved with electronic document distribution. Most importantly, senior management is happy because a highly visible strategic corporate initiative is succeeding? without having to apply for any budget increases.

About the author
Jeff Mills is responsible for implementing the strategic plan for Xenos throughout Europe, Middle East and Africa. He joined Xenos in 1998 as a technical consultant and held a variety of key positions before being appointed as EMEA Managing Director in 2004. He has more than 20 years of experience in the document and data industry, and a strong background in software application development. He can be reached at jmills@xenos.com. More information on Xenos can be found at www.xenos.com.

A large national credit card company decided to take its customer statements and correspondence online. The projected benefits were tremendous: increased customer satisfaction, significantly reduced mail delivery charges, reduced inbound support calls, and a commitment to Green IT principles.

The organisation’s marketing department saw this as a terrific opportunity to inject highly valuable upsell/cross-sell messaging into their customer statements and correspondence. The format of choice to present to their customers would be PDF, the undisputed emerging leader in online document display (according to a recent AIIM research report). The executives and marketing people were delighted. The IT team was elated and the customer support people were relieved. What a wonderful solution they all agreed.

Somewhere between the business case and proof of concept, reality set in. The documents that were historically 30KB AFP print files turned into massive 1MB PDFs. The team quickly discovered they had grossly underestimated the storage requirements. As they simulated the projected 10 million online users accessing their monthly statement, they found that the sub-2 second online presentation SLA (service level agreement) was simply unachievable. The internal network could not handle the volume of data that was expected to move between the central Enterprise Content Management (ECM) document repository and the online customer web presence. Adding to the problem was the fact that there was no budget available to cope with the potential project cost overruns.

The parties sat around the table to try and understand where it all had gone horribly wrong and what could be done about it. The reality is, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the business case. The issues in fact all boiled down to the increased size of the PDF document format.

This is not an uncommon problem faced by businesses today. There is a dramatic rise in the volumes of highly composed, graphically-rich content being produced by today’s large organisations. It is expected that volumes will increase tenfold from 2006 levels by 2011. At the same time eDiscovery and compliance requirements mandate that content be stored and readily available for extended periods of time. The end result is that businesses are facing massive increases in storage requirements?along with the associated costs of managing that storage. Given this escalating growth, it is not surprising that large enterprises today are spending as much as 70% of their IT budgets on their storage infrastructures.

In conjunction with the increase in content volume and document size is the requirement to make business critical content available directly online. It is no longer a competitive advantage?it is an absolute imperative. Those organisations that lag behind self-service delivery are at risk of losing credibility with the ever-growing, technically savvy Internet generation. Enormous strain is being put on internal networks as organisations attempt to rapidly move massive amounts of customer facing content to the Web. Now more than ever, enterprises must re-evaluate their data and document storage needs and delivery requirements. They must look for effective ways to lower related costs and improve transmission performance. The question is ‘how?’

Compression and the adoption of format standards such as MPEG and JPEG enabled the video and graphics industry to reduce the size of media files. This has facilitated the delivery of graphically-rich content to consumers via the Internet and devices such as iPods. A similar approach holds true for enterprises producing large volumes of customer-facing content in the way of Document Storage Reduction (DSR). This is an approach that can reduce an organisation’s storage needs by as much as 90%, significantly lowering their storage costs and improving online performance access.

By way of explanation, the concept of DSR works as follows. Customer-facing documents such as credit card statements, cell phone bills, life insurance policies, or government tax documents are created in very large batches (often tens of thousands per run). Each document in the batch essentially has the identical look and feel (composition) but the data contained within each document is unique to a specific customer. Therefore these high-volume documents are made up of two major parts: transactional data, such as name, address, account number, purchase line items, totals etc.; and the composition resources within the document such as fonts, forms, logos or graphics. Within a typical high-volume, customer-facing document, the proportion of transactional data is usually much smaller than the composition resources.

Once produced, these tens of thousands of highly-composed documents are stored individually within an organisation’s ECM archive. This creates a massive redundant storage problem since the common resource elements within each document are being stored over and over again within the archive. This is simply not necessary.

Document Storage Reduction (DSR) separates transactional data from the common resource elements found within high-volume, customer-facing documents. By separating data from resources within a document set?and storing only one copy of the resources for the tens of thousands of documents within that set?the footprint required to store all of the documents is reduced significantly. As mentioned earlier, a savings of upwards of 90% is very common.

What remains is one single resource bundle for the whole set of documents and a number of much smaller-sized unique documents which contain the transactional data elements and pointers to the separately stored resources that have been removed. In order to view the document, DSR solutions pull together both the transactional data and the separated resources “on the fly” in any format desired by the customer for presentation?at amazing sub-second speed.

To improve online performance and reduce internal network congestion, DSR stores a copy of the common document resources on the web server that reassembles the document for display. When a document is requested for online presentment, only the smaller transactional data has to be moved across the internal network from the ECM repository, dramatically reducing internal network congestion.

DSR results in significant hard cost savings. These can easily be calculated by examining a given document type and multiplying the following factors:

– The number of documents in a given batch
– The average size of each document
– The number of times the batch is run each month
– The average storage cost (dependent upon architecture – £15/GB/month + is common)
– DSR Percentage (dependent upon composed nature of document – 90% + is common)
– Number of months the document is to be retained online

So with a DSR solution in the works, that large national credit card provider is now serving millions of online users with exceptional performance. The marketing group is elated with the advertising advantages they have received by implementing up-sell/cross-sell messaging. The IT Team is thrilled with the online performance and storage cost reduction; and millions of trees are being saved with electronic document distribution. Most importantly, senior management is happy because a highly visible strategic corporate initiative is succeeding? without having to apply for any budget increases.

About the author
Jeff Mills is responsible for implementing the strategic plan for Xenos throughout Europe, Middle East and Africa. He joined Xenos in 1998 as a technical consultant and held a variety of key positions before being appointed as EMEA Managing Director in 2004. He has more than 20 years of experience in the document and data industry, and a strong background in software application development. He can be reached at jmills@xenos.com. More information on Xenos can be found at www.xenos.com.