Reinventing the Post

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Do you need to reinvent your postal business to secure its future and ensure that it remains relevant to new markets and generations? Do you want to find out how others have done this? What is the latest thinking about markets, leadership, operations, culture and governance? What is the future for posts?

‘Change’ is a word that recurs throughout this new book published in September 2014 at Post-Expo in Stockholm. Indeed change is in the sub-title “Changing Postal Thinking”. We all now live in a state of permanent change both in our private and public lives. So we need to constantly re-assess and re-orientate ourselves in many different ways, to be able to adapt and thrive in the complex world of the 21st century. The postal industry is in the same situation (as is every other sector) – with virtually everything changing around it and also within it.

In 2013, the previous edition, Emerging Opportunities for the Postal Industry, looked at the future shape and direction of the post, revealing many different ways in which the sector is being reborn and reinvented for a new generation, and provided strong examples of the energy and life that there still is in the postal sector. The book has since been widely distributed and read globally across the industry, being used for conferences, training sessions and strategic discussions – with postal management teams, customers and suppliers to stimulate serious thought and debate. Rafael Couttolenc, COO, Postal Service Mexico said, “Reinventing the Post is not a simple book, it is a planning tool to invigorate the intellect in an ever-changing market; regardless of your seniority in postal business or the maturity of your country’s post, the amount of knowledge inside makes it a mandatory reading.”

The new book Changing Postal Thinking, addresses questions like: How can posts use digital technology solutions to build on their traditional physical capabilities and create new business opportunities? Whereas the new digital world may sometimes cast the post as an out-dated dinosaur, locked into ‘snail mail’, new ways of thinking now portray the traditional physical assets and capabilities as strengths and competencies increasingly unique to the postal sector, which have made it so powerful in the past but importantly give it a pivotal role in e-commerce and direct marketing for the foreseeable future.

Comprehensive address information, granular locational knowledge, being a trusted intermediary, the ability to authenticate and verify, door-to-door delivery ability, security, coverage and reach, logistics expertise, presence in all the communities and with all customers, small and large – are just some of these features that enable the post to be the perfect anchor for more risky and transient digital solutions on the market – most of which will come and go but are not as durable as the physical post.

In the rush to be ‘on the digital market’, posts should not neglect their key strengths and the opportunity for which they are uniquely positioned which is to be the solid and stabilising anchor, not just for themselves but for others. Indeed, the vulnerabilities of e-mail, data security, power sources, internet connections, technology failures and incompatible systems make it extremely prudent to have a tried and tested durable back up for business continuity – a strong anchor for difficult times.

The first of the seven sections in this new book describes how the market is changing and identifies some of the currents that are swirling around. The second section then explores what kind of leadership is needed in this context – where collaboration is essential and no business stands by itself.

Needless to say, posts do not just need to think differently but also to change the way that they operate, which is elaborated in the third section. If that is only about changing processes or procedures it will make some difference but to ride the waves more successfully, the whole culture of the posts needs to change and that is not achieved easily or quickly, as can be seen in the fourth section.

Section five includes examples of how governance in the whole sector is also changing, through regulatory and legislative intervention but also by market forces and privatization – how does that leave the universal service? In the sixth section, the impact of technology and the digital revolution inform some more different perspectives on the challenges and dilemmas faced by the industry.

Finally, the last section turns to the future and how that might look for the postal sector or for players within it. It is clear that all of us need to keep reinventing ourselves in the postal world as circumstances around us change whatever our role or responsibilities.

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