This past decade has been an amazing time to be part of the postal industry. As a stakeholder in this market, you have had an opportunity to watch a dramatic change unfold. Technology evolution and rapid adoption of Web-based technologies has had a complete and total game-changing impact on the mailing industry. This transition arrived with increased utilization of communication channels such as e-mail, and most importantly, it presented companies with the ability to monitor and improve operational efficiencies. Skyrocketing oil prices and the economic crisis have significantly impacted overall mail volumes and provided serious challenges to this quickly evolving marketplace. Successful organizations are those that are best able to take market challenges and turn them into competitive differentiators.

One of the major impacts on this industry is the continued march towards electronic communication channels. A few years ago, the industry was measuring the impact of e-mail against the decline of first-class mail. Today these calculations include all types of electronic communications, i.e. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, SMS, IM, and blogs. First-class mail has changed forever, and marketers are well on their way in leveraging new, and more personalized, ways of connecting with their current and future customers. Web-based retail commerce continues to grow, and parcel services are growing in direct proportion. This trend brings new opportunities for retailers to offer improved service levels to their customers.

How can software technology help companies stay competitive? All stakeholders in this industry understand that staying ahead of regulatory demands is not only required, but also brings the opportunity for competitive advantage. As the USPS adapts to various market influences, it continues to drive change that arrives in the form of new programs and new regulation. One of the biggest changes is the introduction of the USPS Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb), which will become mandatory in May 2011. The USPS is embracing technology innovation by requiring every piece of mail to be uniquely identified with a complex bar code in order to obtain the lowest automation prices. IMb will benefit mailers as it aims to improve the delivery of mail, increase operational efficiencies, and provide greater visibility into the entire mail stream. It is anticipated that early adopters of the IMb may qualify for postal discounts beginning in November of this year. SAP BusinessObjects Postalsoft software aims to help clients be among the first companies to achieve certification to take full advantage of Intelligent Mail benefits. Those organizations that are making the switch to the new bar code early may potentially realize cost savings by using intelligent software to streamline operations and receiving the postal discounts.

Another example is Move Update compliance; a USPS mandate that came into effect in 2008 and requires mailers to implement a move update solution to qualify for discounted mailings. The USPS plans to begin adjudication of the penalty for non-compliance of the move update requirement beginning January 4, 2010. The scalable mailing solutions from SAP will help companies make sure their customer data is correct, current, and complete. By eliminating duplicates and incorrect data, companies can encourage cost savings while promoting compliance to USPS requirements.

How will technology help companies face future challenges? Based on our customer experience in the printing, presort, and data management markets, we see a continue demand for innovative service offerings that result in reduced total cost of ownership (TCO). This means companies are looking to leverage Web technologies at an ever-increasing extent to manage print distribution and delivery logistics across national and global markets. Technology will continue to help companies develop new products and services. It will also facilitate the integration of offerings from acquired organizations to strengthen a company's overall portfolio of services in a competitive landscape.

The role and mission of SAP in the changing business environment remains the same. We help companies respond quickly to market shifts by enabling operational excellence. We offer a portfolio of world-class solutions that help mailers streamline and grow their operations, including mailroom services, logistics planning, data management and movement, decision support, customer relationship management, and supply chain management. As we move forward, the only certainty we have is that the business environment will continue to change and technology innovation will continue to help companies stay competitive in an evolving marketplace. The Darwinian principle is at work. Those that are not able to adapt will die. Survival of the fittest means embracing technology as a competitive tool.

For more information, visit

© 2009 by SAP AG.
All rights reserved. SAP, R/3, SAP NetWeaver, Duet, PartnerEdge, ByDesign, SAP Business ByDesign, and other SAP products and services mentioned herein as well as their respective logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of SAP AG in Germany and other countries.
Business Objects and the Business Objects logo, BusinessObjects, Crystal Reports, Crystal Decisions, Web Intelligence, Xcelsius, and other Business Objects products and services mentioned herein as well as their respective logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of Business Objects S.A. in the United States and in other countries. Business Objects is an SAP company.
All other product and service names mentioned are the trademarks of their respective companies. Data contained in this document serves informational purposes only. National product specifications may vary.
These materials are subject to change without notice. These materials are provided by SAP AG and its affiliated companies ("SAP Group") for informational purposes only, without representation or warranty of any kind, and SAP Group shall not be liable for errors or omissions with respect to the materials. The only warranties for SAP Group products and services are those that are set forth in the express warranty statements accompanying such products and services, if any. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty