Entering the digital world

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Shariq Mirza, CEO and founder of Assurety Consulting, presents his thoughts on the potential game changers and pitfalls of developing a postal digital strategy

Postal operators have some of the best physical address data about households within their regions. Depending on legal and cultural norms within a country, certain posts may also hold databases including personally identifiable information (PII) on households. Operators also hold marketing, sales and customer relations management (CRM) information on customers. This information could help posts identify patterns of service and product use. Posts can also partner with marketing agencies and companies with electronic data on consumers. Postal operators should be using this data to develop new digital strategies and to connect to every household electronically, which can help posts generate new revenue streams.

Five strategies posts should follow to reach households digitally are:

1. Developing one common goal. The CEO of a postal operator drives a strategy that defines goals and objectives for reaching households digitally at an enterprise level. In our opinion, this strategy needs to follow the ideas of Patrick Lancioni from his book Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars: A Leadership Fable About Destroying the Barriers That Turn Colleagues into Competitors.

In the book, Lancioni gives real-life examples of enterprise turn-around through a single organizational focus, bringing all silos together to meet the goals of the company. Lancioni suggests that this is just like an emergency room, where doctors, nurses, administrative staff, surgeons, radiologists and lab technicians come together to save a life, when in reality they may only support their own silos otherwise. In the same manner, a CEO can create a situation where the employees work together toward achieving revenue growth and improved CRM through digital solutions.

2. A clear focus. Postal operators should create a new digitally focused organization, using a digital innovation group (DIG), focused solely on the goal of developing digital products and services to be used by the post’s customers.

3. Research and development. The DIG should conduct research or hire research analysts to identify high-volume digitally savvy markets that provide appropriate pilot platforms wherever the post delivers. This organization should identify initial focus areas for services or products with a digital footprint.

4. Data partners. The DIG should also focus on those entities that possess electronic information on households and that have high quality data cleanliness and integrity policies, and look to partner with them. This ensures the quality of electronic data on households is focused and specific.

5. Flexibility. The DIG must be nimble to test out new ideas and have a single IT strategy that looks at marketing, sales, CRM and social media in one light. The DIG team must also be able to quickly prototype and deploy solutions for pilot activities to validate if the ideas are viable.

Five areas posts should avoid when looking to reach households digitally are:

1. Posts should avoid funding every silo because going after similar solutions may compete for the same resources and customers. Prioritization is the word throughout the DIG office while understanding that a CRM organization may have separate needs that require support.

2. Posts should avoid putting the IT organization in charge of the strategy. Instead, the IT organization should be the research and development process, validating and planning integration architectures and implementing the vision of the DIG.

3. The DIG must not be led by those who do not understand marketing strategies, research and consumer behaviors, or by those who may be less technologically literate.

4. The DIG must not think of the campaign as a usual IT project focusing on revenue growth. Instead the DIG team must entail experts who understand the social media landscape and the digital eco system, and how it intermingles with physical mail and parcels at an expert level. They must be able to help manage any uncertainty for the posts.

5. The DIG must not avoid discussions with other silos but rather build trust with the CRM, marketing, sales, technology, engineering, operations and delivery organizations, as without their help the implementations may get delayed and never come to fruition. The correct approach would be to form a DIG team that has stakeholders from all silos, working towards the one goal of reaching the household electronically, thereby growing revenue and managing customer expectations.

About the author

Shariq Mirza, CEO and founder of Assurety Consulting, possesses more than two decades of leadership and problem solving expertise in the mailing and parcel industry. He leads Assurety, a mid-size company with a global footprint, that provides postal logistics consulting, mailing and shipping software, and custom software development services for the postal eco system.

March 9, 2016

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