UPU’s World Postal Business Forum: Helping to seize opportunities in the digital age

03.10.2018 - The digital age is changing not only the way we live, but also the way we think about the world. One of the most startling advances is in the way businesses deal with consumers.

In the past, potential buyers read advertising and then bought their goods. Today, goods are purchased at the touch of a button. The high-end touchscreen is replacing the high street shop window.

Statistics reinforce the scale of this revolution. One study by Moz.com found that 67 percent of respondents’ purchasing decisions were impacted by online reviews; while 28 percent of all online activity is spent on social networks.

These changes have had a profound impact on postal operators and their interaction with customers. In the words of Khalil Daoud, CEO at Liban Post, speaking during the Universal Postal Union’s 2018 World CEO Forum in Istanbul, “The greatest challenge for Posts is to think like their customers, to find out what they want, and to find the right products.”

How to think like a customer is not, however, the only challenge. Posts in the 21st Century need to combine their duties to the Universal Service Obligation with a modern outlook that demands they match the private sector’s profitability and efficiency. Recent years have also seen controversies over remuneration rates and concerns over the delivery of prohibited and dangerous goods.

Held on the margins of the highly successful POST-EXPO, UPU’s World Postal Business Forum (WPBF) has always been a forum for discussing the sector’s future. This year, it is tackling some of the tough issues arising from digitalization.

The forum’s title is “Dealing with challenges, while seizing opportunities in the digital age,” and is dedicated to ensuring participants receive practical information on digital developments that can add real value to their businesses.

After an opening session with guest speaker Kenan Bozgeyik, CEO of Turkish Post, the first panel discusses the digital economy, as well as embracing the “Internet of things” in order to develop electronic, financial and physical postal services clustered around data processing. The panel will seek to answer some of the big questions about digitalization and e-commerce: What does the future hold for postal operators and how can they continue to leverage postal big data, while at the same time protecting their reputation and responding to the privacy concerns of customers?

The movement of dangerous goods and the security of postal workers and the public is the subject of the second session. Concerns exist about the possible movement of deadly opioids and other dangerous substances, as well as the smuggling of ivory and other endangered wildlife products. The panel will discuss how these movements can be stopped and whether data mining and machine learning offer sensible solutions.

After this session, participants will have a special invitation lunchtime session where a guest speaker will provide insights on branding and how it can help win investments and customers for the postal sector. This year also sees an emphasis on communications with a session on public relations followed by a special workshop on crisis communications. Leading these sessions is TJ Walker described as the “leading speaking expert/media trainer in the world” by Bloomberg TV, Comedy Central’s Daily Show and Fox News.

Alongside these sessions, and in a specially dedicated area that combines the UPU POST-EXPO stand, as well as a specially prepared “discussion zone”, UPU Staff, including the Postal Technology Centre’s head of IT Development Lati Matata, will give a series of detailed presentations on postal supply chain integrated solutions and inclusive e-commerce.

This article first appeared in the August 2018 issue of UPU’s Union Postale magazine. Subscribe now to be the first to receive content like this.



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  1. Dirk at 19.01.2016
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