Post Expo 2014 – Innovate or Die

Over the past 17 years the Post Expo conference has firmly established itself as the place to see and be seen if you are in the postal industry. And with this year’s European event taking place in Stockholm – there’s also the added attraction of a trip to the sixth ‘most liveable’ city in the world.

One of the main themes for this year’s conference is innovation; a subject very close to our heart working in the technology industry, and which is of fundamental importance to the postal sector as the industry looks to shift away from its traditional core mailing business to one which embraces the digital age.

Holding the Expo in Scandinavia is especially relevant as the Nordic countries have been particularly hard hit by the decline in their traditional business and have consequently led a number of the new transformation initiatives.

So what are some of these new initiatives and how might they help the Posts to re-establish themselves in what is an increasingly competitive world?

As I see it there are two fundamental drivers for innovation.  One is to help to reduce costs and the other is to open up new revenue opportunities for the business.  On the cost front, new technologies are playing an increasingly important role in driving down the cost of collecting, sorting and delivering mail, whilst Posts are now becoming far more receptive to the new ideas which will help them to take advantage of their core strengths.

In our view data is one area which provides huge opportunity for the Posts.

There are very few businesses which exist in the world whose brand has such an extensive reach and which has been relied on over many generations to provide its service. The result of which is that not only is there a strong connection with the consuming public, but a pool of data from address information and beyond which holds a massive untapped potential for many of the postal service providers.

As an illustration of this point, the address validation market is currently worth over Eu150 million in the UK, a figure which in our experience, dwarfs many equivalent sized markets in the rest of Europe.

To explore how data holds the key to the future success of the Posts, we will be hosting a workshop asking postal authorities ‘is there a need for a single common addressing platform in Europe?’

The creation of the European Union has meant that trade between its members has been made much simpler. However one thing that still stands is the fact that most of the members still have their own designated postal operators. Each of these operators has their own distinct business strategies which have been tailored to the needs of the countries’ residents. The fact that each operator has its own distinct way of doing things means cross-border shipment is somewhat hindered.

Ideally a single global solution shared by all postal operators would mean that international shipping would be far less confusing and frustrating for e-tailers. Of course this brings up a whole host of questions – who owns the data? How will it be managed? What are the benefits – and more importantly the risks.

Hosted by Gavin Macrae, Group Executive at Neopost, the workshop asks the heads of departments from the world’s biggest postal organisations whether there’s a need for a single, combined source of European address data and who might use and benefit from a service like this.

The workshop takes place on Wednesday 24 September 2-4pm in the Innovation Conference, will you be there?

Get involved and join in the conversation on our LinkedIn Group – Postal Operators Data Group.