Categories: Big DataIndustrial segmentsInterview

Big Data and Analytics is changing the game for the Shipping, Mailing and Ecommerce big time

James Fairweather

The shipping and mailing company, Pitney Bowes India has grown to become the largest Innovation center for Pitney Bowes globally. Their Indian team is working on IoT devices, Security and DevOps that have global charters and lead work on cutting-edge digital technologies and innovation their key products for global markets.

In this interview James Fairweather, Chief Innovation Officer, Pitney Bowes, highlights ecosystem of data science & analytics in the shipping and mailing domain, and working on bringing clients closer to the Innovation workforce globally. Excerpts:

DQ: Could you tell us a little bit about the work that Pitney Bowes is doing on Innovation globally?

James: Pitney Bowes is focused on innovation in the Shipping & Mailing space – in support of ecommerce retailers, small businesses, large mailers, and enterprise clients.  We offer a range of products and services – SaaS shipping solutions, domestic, cross-border and returns logistics services, mail sortation services, lockers, parcel receiving solutions, and hardware and software solutions that let companies from small businesses to enterprises access postal services from their laptop or office.

DQ: How are Big Data and Analytics changing the game for the Shipping, Mailing and Ecommerce?

James: Data Science is becoming infused in product and service experiences to improve business outcomes for our clients. Improving their outcomes increases our value to them. We see the natural evolution of our products and services to be the incorporation of Intelligent Data Services into the experiences our clients, consumers, and operations associates have with our technology. 

The ability to uplift performance, rapidly detect anomalies, improve business outcomes through better prescriptive operational decision making, and provide analytics to our clients to show the improvements we are creating is differentiating in our market.

We have also built leading capabilities using data science for automated trade classification (HS code assignment), and these capabilities combined with our ability to solve other parcel processing efficiency problems with data science have allowed us to become a leading provider of cross-border transportation services.

DQ: How are you grooming talent to be future-ready?

James: We purposefully choose to adopt leading edge technologies and work with leading platforms and partners – because we feel this will give our team members the best experiential development opportunity.  Across cloud, API management, identity, IoT, operating systems and even programming languages, we are careful to select the leading players and the most contemporary technology for many of our projects. We have a lot of internal training platforms that allow talent to grow technical skills, but we also combine that with domain specific training that helps our new employees understand the business context and market environment, and the very specific technology patterns associated with our industry. We couple that with training on secure development and have systematically been training and certifying members of our team on Design Thinking, and other contemporary topics.

DQ: Are you introducing new ways of learning client-centric methodologies, and scaling design thinking?

James: Client centricity is part of our cultural values and core to who we are as a company.  As I mentioned above, we have a purposeful program in training and certifying Design Thinking practitioners.  We have partnered with the Luma Institute, a trusted partner that helps organizations worldwide scale design thinking, bring about culture change and deliver impact and have trained several hundred members of our organization in Design Thinking, have over a hundred certified practitioners and three trainers on our staff.  We are seeing these skills being adopted across all functions in our organization and incorporated into our teaming and collaboration practices by our senior leaders.  

DQ: How are India teams working on cutting-edge digital technologies and innovation for Pitney Bowes’ key products for global markets?

James: Pitney Bowes global Innovation team members all equally participate in the conception, architecture, design, implementation and operation of our products and services across each of our business areas.  Our India teams are at the cutting edge as it relates to applying technology to create solutions for global markets.  

As an example, we have been developing a next generation cryptographically secure metering solution for global postage evidencing which is being lead and developed by our India team. We have been rolling out shipping applications to international markets that run on our Shipping360 platform, an enterprise SaaS solution. This platform allows us to integrate shipping services into any business process, and the platform itself is being developed by our India teams. We have blockchain based solutions for tax evidencing in global markets under development. We have a global Innovation of the Year process to recognize and celebrate outstanding new innovation across the company. Teams across Pitney Bowes businesses, geographies and functions participate each year with our India team being among the most active and successful.

DQ: Could you elaborate on the teams working on IoT devices, Security, and DevOps that have global charters?

James: Pitney Bowes has been on the forefront of IoT and has integrated IoT technology into a large number of our products and solutions. We have hundreds of thousands of products now in the field and have innovated new business models (subscription-based supply replenishment, as an example) as well as building Data Science models to help with preventative and proactive maintenance of the devices to improve client satisfaction. We have utilized several technology stacks for our IoT devices and have built whole product platforms around IoT enabled processors and architectures. 

In India, we are currently developing IoT powered applications to help us operate the sorting centers that comprise our global ecommerce logistics network, using the IoT capability of a major cloud vendor to rapidly build and deploy these business critical applications. It is an exciting time for us as we combine streaming IoT data, cloud computing, and putting more data at the edge to work – including image processing via deep learning techniques.

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