Big Data—large datasets combined with powerful analytics—has the potential to drive innovation within the postal industry. Using its various rich data sources, the large and technologically advanced Posts are using Big Data to support more efficient decision-making processes that will improve operational performance, enhance customer service, and create new products and services.
One key example involves revenue assurance—the application of processes that enable the Parcel and Post operators to accurately capture revenue for all services rendered. Big Data allows the operators to use statistical analytics to establish thresholds and develop profiles that help gain an understanding of when it is more or less likely that fraudulent activity has taken place relating to paying for services. If a discovered issue turns out to be a one-time occurrence, it is probably a mistake. If an issue occurs frequently, then an investigation is necessary.
Another key area is operational performance efficiencies driving down the overall costs. Like any large organization, the Postal operators have many operations that deal with transactions with end customers. And, those operations are carried out by systems and technologies that collect data that can be aggregated in a way that allows it to be analyzed to examine the efficiency of the operations and discover areas of improvement.
One of the best examples of Big Data’s impact on operational performance involves failed delivery attempts. Numerous trips involved with attempting to deliver packages, letters, and other mail pieces are costly to the USPS. So, cutting down on failed first attempts saves the Parcel and Post operators a substantial amount of money.
When delivery resources for the Parcel and Postal operators—its delivery men and women—make attempts at a delivery and the delivery can’t be completed for reasons that have to do with either the mail piece or the delivery point, that creates a huge financial problem. Fortunately, the technologically advanced Parcel and Post operators collect data that allows for deep analysis to help the organization discover what the major causes are that make first attempts unsuccessful and how that issue can be resolved.
New Products and Offerings
An exciting new development being explored by posts in various parts of the world involves a marriage between social media and postal services. Essentially, posts can use social media handles and email addresses to help commercial mailers target customers with pinpoint accuracy.
Social media organizations like Facebook and Twitter collect electronic data such as social media handles and email addresses of their users. They also own a treasure trove of data regarding their users’ behavior and interests. Posts, on the other hand, have all the information about the actual physical delivery points for those users.
A possible scenario involves a marketer that wants to send physical mail to a group of individuals who like vintage automobiles. The marketer could request access to social media handles and email addresses for those specific individuals from a social media site. Then the marketer could use the physical address from the post. The post then correlates the social media handles and emails with the physical address and provides that information to the marketer. Now the marketer can run direct mail campaigns to a highly-targeted audience.
Commercial Mailers and Parcel Shippers
The above discussion also applies to commercial mailers and parcel shippers. That’s because whether or not they leverage big data themselves, the impact of digitization and Big Data proliferates throughout the logistics, operations, and systems of every organization involved in the postal industry.
The Postal Internet of Things (POIT)
Big Data is also ushering in what is being called the “Postal Internet of Things.” In this new era, the sensor technologies will enable physical objects to collect and communicate data via the Internet in real time.
For example, affixing technologically advanced sensors to postal / parcel delivery trucks will have a huge impact. They can sense the status and performance of delivery truck functions throughout the value chain to help reduce fuel costs and fleet maintenance costs as well as help optimize routes. They can also report the status of cell-phone coverage and detect harmful chemical agents.
According to an OIG study, data collected by such sensors would interest more than just posts. This information could become a basis for a new portfolio of postal services for government agencies and other public and private entities. “Connected” vehicles and carriers with handheld devices can become platforms able to support the collection of data and the provision of both postal, parcel, and government services to local communities.
Assurety Understands Big Data
For more than 18 years, Assurety’s leadership and management has been a thought leader in the parcel and postal industry. That experience enables us to help our clients fine tune their postal and parcel transformation strategy and extract value from Big Data as it grows in availability and importance. Additionally, our solutions and consulting help posts, delivery organizations, commercial mailers, and shippers streamline and automate their processes, resulting in efficiency gains that enable them to save money and generate new revenue.