Big Data and postal services: an increasingly close bond that year after year is showing its benefits. On one hand Big Data is a rapidly growing sector, and fundamental for correctly analysing complex data, and on the other hand we have the public or private postal service based almost entirely on managing postal addresses, names and other data. In 2018 it is difficult to keep these two spheres separate, especially for those like large companies or state owned companies, who want to streamline their internal resources, reduce waste and boost their business. Before entering into detail and seeing how to obtain the utmost from Big Data for postal services, we must specify what we mean by these two areas. So we will begin by defining Big Data and Postal Service in a modern and global perspective, with a prominent role played by new technology.
THE CONCEPT OF BIG DATA AND POSTAL SERVICE IN 2018
To talk of Big Data in 2018 does not mean just considering quantities. Big Data are not just “big numbers”, as it was believed in the beginning and how the uninitiated still believe. Big Data are above all value. How? Consider for example a 3D digital map. Until a few years ago all we could think of loading into the map were coordinates, points of interest and not much more, but today the same map can be enhanced with traffic flows in real time, reports of work in progress, up to date weather conditions (rain, snow, hail, etc.).
These data increase our perception of reality and help us make better decisions faster, perhaps just which route to follow, but also what time, what vehicle (car, scooter, truck), and so on. Decisions that translate into lower costs and higher efficiency. This could be extended by including addresses in the map of customers who repeatedly order certain products online (for example people who shop at the supermarket from their smartphone) and who receives deliveries in the afternoon, or the morning, who at home or in the office, who once a week and who two or three times, who pays on delivery and who pays by credit card or PayPal … this gives us an idea of how Big Data can be helpful!
After clarifying that, now let’s define postal service. Again it is a much broader field than just dispatching products. At a time in history when competition is ruthless and each action weighs on the balance sheet, we must plan each move down to the last cent. For example, if we ship 10 containers a month to the other side of the ocean because we are a removal firm, we could benefit enormously by combining our data with those of other smaller companies, and find out that the rates are lower when we ask the shipping company for three or four times more space that our new partnership needs. If the international business vision just remains on paper we will have no benefits. However, if the same vision is backed up by last generation software for the postal service the margins to increase performance are much greater. Then if we also consider the Internet of Things as well as Big Data, the question becomes even more complex and the opportunities to use advanced analysis and validation tools become a compulsory step. Let’s see why.
BIG DATA AND INTERNET OF THINGS: THE SHIPMENTS OF TOMORROW
Big Data belongs to common language now: large companies, postal services, public institutions and some of the leading ecommerce platforms have started to exploit and combine enormous databases, with calculation speed that increases visibly year after year. However this is just one of the key points that influences, and will continue to influence, dispatch and business generally. Alongside Big Data there is also the Internet of Things, a new paradigm where things take on an active role in our, and consumers’, everyday lives. Thanks to dedicated software and hardware devices can link up to the web, share information and “react” to users’ responses. When it comes to dispatch the opportunities are endless. As the journalist Federico Guerrini states in the article in Forbes “How Big Data and the Internet of Things will change the postal service”:
The chance of equipping the postal network (vehicles, post-boxes, parcels, sorting centres, etc.) with low cost sensors, exponentially expands the capacity of postal operators to gather precious data. These new data sources could help the postal service to improve its working performance, customer service, create new products and services and support more efficient decisional processes. The “Internet of Postal Things” the experts say could have positive effects on other areas besides postal services, as the data gathered by and for the postal service could be used by others.
That is not all however, because this revolution will involve the public across the board where everyone can be a private individual and a service provider at the same time (owner of small ecommerce business, restaurant managers who deliver meals to homes, NCC drivers). In the same article by Federico Guerrini, two innovative services are mentioned:
With regards the end user, postal big data could help the rise of new consumer oriented delivery services: the report authors quote the SoPost platform which, in the UK, allows people to use their Facebook and Twitter accounts as a postal address for delivering gifts or product samples, without sharing the effective delivery data. In Sweden DHL has tested “crowd sourcing deliveries”, offering the chance to deliver parcels of products ordered online directly to other end consumers. By using a mobile app, the MyWays service puts people who request flexible deliveries in touch with those who offer parcel delivery along their daily route with a small supplement.
THE EGON SUITE TO MANAGE BIG DATA IN THE POSTAL SERVICE
After discussing some of the numerous implications involved with Big Data and the Internet of Things for postal services, we would like to conclude by mentioning the practical side, and the available tools to profitably govern and manage the quantity of information, data and addresses we have. These are very advanced programs able to analyse hundreds of thousands of records either online or locally, with different functions ranging from checking for duplicates in the database to automatically correcting names, from completing a specific datum to updating house numbers, locations or obsolete addresses. Our Egon suite stands out for its calculation speed and precision, and it can be customized for the most varied of goals, including data georeferencing on digital maps and then integration with GPS devices, cleansing entire databases, converting mailing addresses into standard formats to guarantee error free national and international dispatches…
By registering with the demo software, anyone can try the potential of Egon to analyse simple or complex data free of charge, for postal dispatches or for other questions (data entry, data warehouse, CRM systems, ecommerce). Supported by a tool of this type any business can aspire to growth on the global market, to achieve efficient performance levels, organization and cost savings unthinkable otherwise. Just a few minutes are needed to personally test the Egon demo version: after inputting the data you will receive a username and password to access your profile and use the associated bonus credits. Big Data and Internet of Things offer gigantic development opportunities: so act now and try the Egon Suite for yourself free of charge to see all the numerous functions this software offers.