Maybe it is because an Alaskan Husky is a mixed breed, but our new family dog Wolfgang (see his introduction last October with So Happy To See You) is the most “doglike” of any dog I have had the pleasure of knowing. My opinion on this started with a single steak bone that we gave him last fall. He chewed on the bone for a few minutes, and then actually buried it in our yard—just like the famous Jock from Lady and the Tramp. I know that dogs burying bones is a common cliché, but I have never known a dog who actually did it. “How cute” we all thought when we first saw Wolfgang carefully patting down the ground, hiding all traces of the bone buried below. What we didn’t know at the time was that it would practically become a full time job for Wolfgang to keep track of this and future bones!
Wolfgang keeps a watchful eye on each bone buried in our yard. He will frequently dig up a bone and move it to a new location, ever so carefully selecting the perfect new site each time. I really don’t know how he keeps track of exactly where each bone is buried, but somehow he does it. I have often thought he could use a filebased tracking system, like our DFWorks® Automated Document Factory, but with that I am overstating the problem—Wolfgang probably has many clues in place which show him where each bone lies, just like a mailroom operations may have legacy and custom developed systems that are perfectly suited for keeping track of a traditional transactional workflow.
Even a dog must adjust to external changes
Wolfgang does not live in isolation, however. The humans in his household have definite opinions on where a bone can and cannot be buried (not in the flower garden, and please don’t dig a hole right where I step each time I walk out to the compost!). These household regulations were easy enough for Wolfgang to comply with. His trouble began, however, when he got a rawhide bone (new technology) for Christmas. Due to customer preference (our preference, that is), the rawhide bone stays in the house. Steak bones go outside. While we can clearly see the difference, this is all very confusing to Wolfgang. He has been hiding the rawhide bone in various locations throughout our house (behind a door, under a blanket), but he gets confused and tries to take the rawhide bone outside or sometimes (gasp) tries to bring a dirt covered steak bone inside.
The process has clearly become too complicated for Wolfgang to manage on his own. All of this makes me think of transactional mailers who are faced with many different drivers and changes that impact their workflow and customer communications management process.
- Regulatory changes might seem like old news, but they are a reality for those who have to manage transactional communications, and sometimes they can even present new opportunities for marketers (2nd ounce free!).
- Customer preference is driving the need for multi-channel choices.
- New technologies (high quality production level inkjet color printing, personalized QR codes, segment driven marketing, ability to customize the outside of the envelope) present great options for marketers, but add to the overall complexity of the entire process.
Can a dog learn new tricks?
It may be time to put your clipboards away and move to a truly automated tracking system. But what are the nuts and bolts that an automated system should support? How is the system positioned to accommodate the next new innovation (just today I read that 1:1 is dead and that communications are moving to a “mutually managed experience”)?
As you plan for the future and how you will implement new communications opportunities, we would be happy to help you think through all of the criteria you will need to consider. Good luck with keeping track of everything, and please let us know about your successes as you go!
Note: You might be interested to learn that Wolfgang eliminated the complexity of tracking the rawhide bone that was kept inside by simply eating it.