Feature Interview: Why Big Data?

An exclusive interview with Mr. Roman Knap, CEO of Česká Pošta

PostEurop: What impact can you see Big Data having on the Postal Industry? 

RK: The impact of Big Data is naturally significant as postal and logistics processes generate enormous amounts of data. In a broader sense, Big Data (and its effective exploitation) is becoming extremely important for every company that seeks to succeed in its business, and this is even more true for highly competitive markets such as the e-commerce driven postal sector. Data helps rationalize postal processes, offer new customer service and enhance postal operators´ competitiveness. 

Big Data may facilitate new business opportunities, aid to meet customers’ expectations, give a fresh impulse for digital transformation. They may even be monetized externally. According to a recent DHL study, most delivery companies all around the world invest in big data analytics, similarly as in cloud applications or blockchain technology.

Potentially, big data may also help to identify citizens´ incidence and profile, which may have many use, eg. for direct marketing, branch network adjustment or monetisation by offering information about reliability of the posts´ customers to banks or mobile operators. But monetisation usage also means lots of work in the area of aggregation and anonymisation od the data.

PostEurop: In your view, how can logistics and supply chains benefit from Big Data?

RK: Big Data presents a huge potential to the sectors - sufficient capacity to effectively manage, analyse, interpret data in order to implement appropriate changes in day-to-day business routine or adopt strategic decisions about company´s orientation and product portfolio will be the key factor of company´s future success or failure. The reality of Big Data has arrived, and it is the only way to successfully compete in contemporary situation of customers' increasing demands and changing needs.

Big data and their analytics may also help posts in the current reality of disruptive competitors and new business models and give them a competition advantage over the disruptors.

PostEurop: What are the main challenges when processing the collected data?

RK: We see two main challenges connected to processing of data. The first is the data quality itself, i.e. how to assure its appropriate quality not only at input stage but also during the whole life cycle. Second challenge to cope with is how to correlate data flows with postal items flow, which is very important for service quality.

Also, personal data protection is a challenge.

PostEurop: How postal operator use and treat data beyond its traditional use is increasingly Important. What is Česká pošta currently doing to take the best out of Big Data? 

RK: Česká pošta has been using several analytical tools - e.g. PostNetControl (route optimization), Last Mile Designer or Estimated Time of Arrival to plan and optimize parcel delivery routes, to increase the rate of successful deliveries, or to inform the customers about the estimated time of delivery. At the same time, we share selected data with our business customers in order to manage the quality of input data to our logistics and thus the success of delivery. Data from all sources are being inserted, stored and analysed within so-called Data Warehouse, which assures for compatibility and increases the quality of data outputs.

PostEurop: How important is Big Data for Česká pošta?

RK: Data is an integral part of our processes. We use it to design new services as well as to manage logistics of shipments and services. Nevertheless, the ever-growing competition on both national and international postal market and rapidly changing business environment force Česká pošta to search for innovative ways of data exploitation.

PostEurop: Do you see it taking an important role on the future development of your company?

RK: Česká pošta will continue in introducing new data-based services in order to create an added value to its existing postal products. Relevant data and its effective exploitation are the prerequisite for what contemporary customers want – to dispose of online data about their shipments and to manage their life cycle. Hence, Česká pošta will have to pay an increased attention to data in the future. We are currently elaborating a new strategy of the company to be presented in the months to come, and data analytics will constitute one its pillars.

To sum it up - postal operators must simply embrace the new Big Data reality and use it to their advantage – and for that, recognizing and interpreting the right data is essential. 

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