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Episode 33 – Industry Corner Podcast

IN THIS EPISODE: Recap of the Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) meetings held in Washington, DC in October 2019

Links to the resources mentioned in the podcast.



Chris: 00:00 Hi everyone. I’m Chris Lien. Welcome to Industry Corner, a podcast where I discuss postal industry news to help you stay informed. On today’s podcast I recap the Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee meetings held in Washington, DC in October, 2019… So let’s get into it.

Chris: 00:18 Welcome to the podcast everyone. This is Chris Lien, president of BCC Software and I thought I would take some time today to talk a little bit about the Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee meetings that were held in Washington, DC at postal headquarters in October, October 29th and 30th to be exact, and this was a good MTAC overall because it gave us an opportunity to chat with the Postmaster General and the senior team and it’s really the second to the last, there’s going to be another MTAC meeting in January with the Postmaster General, as I had noted on a prior podcast. She has announced her retirement, it’ll be effective January 31st so we certainly appreciate the Postmaster General’s time over the course of the last five years with handling a lot of the challenges that the Postal Service and the mailing industry face. But I think opportunities are certainly there within, and that’s a little bit of what we talked about.

Chris: 01:09 MTAC opened with the Postmaster General doing some opening remarks and not anything major was shared. Certainly she recognized the reality that Chairman Cummings with his passing, of course, pretty much makes it very difficult, if not impossible for any meaningful postal legislation to be passed this year. There was a conversation that took place with some industry leadership and that’s all part of what normally happens pre MTAC with the Postmaster General and you know, there’s still some hope as we discussed on prior podcasts that at least some resolution relative to the retiree healthcare benefits could be passed. But we’ll have to see what happens with that. And again, it’s very unfortunate with the sudden passing of the chairman. When asked what the PMG Megan Brennan’s gonna do when she retires, her comment was some beach somewhere. So we certainly wish her a good retirement and a well deserved break. And I again want to personally thank her for her partnership and really friendship over the years. She’s been great to work with and certainly understands the criticality of the mailing industry and that we all are working within.

Chris: 01:57 The PMG was followed by Kristen Seaver, chief information officer and executive vice president, and Kristen really talked a little bit of kind of on broad strokes of what the Postal Service is doing relative to information and technology, but more specifically the Postal Service is really focused a lot on cyber security as we all should be. And there were some headlines recently on ransomware attacks that continues to grow. In fact, Greg Crabb, who was the chief information security officer with the Postal Service, talked a little bit about the ransomware attacks and noted that there’s been some recent increases in that. The FBI reported that there were 1,493 ransomware incidents impacting businesses in the United States totaling over $3.6 million in losses in 2018. These are companies that are being targeted and unfortunately they are paying these ransoms which is not recommended because it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that they’re not going to be held captive again.

Chris: 03:03 And so there’s a lot of companies including BCC Software and certainly all of our customers are encouraged to really start looking at implementing cybersecurity awareness and education and technology to help prevent that from happening. That also ties a little bit into Informed Delivery® and with Informed Delivery. That has certainly increased and it’s important that as customers are using Informed Delivery and tying in that digital communication piece to the physical piece, that that landing page on that mobile device, that digital device, that landing page needs to be safe, secure, inviting and doesn’t hinder the opportunity that presents with Informed Delivery, which is why the Postal Service is actively reviewing every single one of the URL links that are part of these Informed Delivery campaigns. I know I personally had been seeing a lot of new logos that are popping up in my daily Informed Delivery digest. Just as recent as today I saw a really nice one with L.L.Bean. I’ve seen ones from a number of different companies, Best Buy and so forth and so it’s very encouraging to see the adoption of Informed Delivery increase. Certainly the discounts are part of that, but I think the bigger opportunity is just driving that physical to digital connectivity with it. The Postal Service was excited to share that there’s now over 20 million registered users for Informed Delivery and that’s now add a meaningful amount to get the interest for marketers. That’s over 12% of every delivery point in the United States has at least one or more Informed Delivery subscribers that are going to be able to get these daily digest, so that’s important. And speaking of promotions, we talk a little bit about what’s going to happen for next year are pretty much the same. Promotions for 2020 is what we saw in 2019 so that’s basically outlined as well.

Chris: 04:42 I do know that the Postal Services looking for new ways to be able to do Informed Delivery, that’s not necessarily tied to seasonality. Just different ways to be able to encourage broader adoption and with this Informed Delivery campaign that’s been going on here in the fall, there’s a good opportunity that companies that have tried it and I mentioned some of the logos earlier are going to continue with using Informed Delivery as part of their larger and broader multichannel marketing initiative. We heard from Dave Williams as well as chief operating officer and Dave was very excited about performance, particularly for marketing mail. Stating that they had the highest performance for on time delivery for marketing mail and I know that there’s quite a bit of work that Dave and his team are doing with that. Periodical mail did have a drop. That was one of the more notable ones that drop a little bit and the concern there, as Dave noted, was that there’s, we’ll call it the good periodical mail seems to be kind of declining and good in the sense that this is the type of periodical mail that has been prepared over a long period of time. You know, sort of in the aspect of seamless acceptance, it’s reliable, it’s always prepared well, and so that now as that volume is changing where maybe moving out of the system, it’s now the smaller different periodical publications that are challenged with that. Related to operations is also appointments. The FAST (Facility Access and Shipment Tracking) appointments and the no show appointments are continuing to increase. In past four weeks, approximately 29% of the appointments were no shows. That results in almost 31,000 of them. 107,000 total appointments were considered no-shows and that really does put some challenges on FAST and for other mailers. If the appointments or the slots are being filled by mailing service providers that are not fulfilling that, it unfortunately locks in that time and other people aren’t able to get their appointments in. So there’s a real concern with that part of it.

Chris: 06:27 When we talk about delivery, there’s also been some investments that the Postal Services made. There’s a next generation mobile delivery device. The MDDs are going to be coming out and these mobile delivery devices are going to enable a higher level of precision for GPS tracking for the delivery force and that’s really critical for us in the mailing industry when we talk about the actual pinpoint where that mail moment happens. There’s a number of different geocode if you will, spaces that can be assigned to a particular address location. In fact, 11 different points per address is often what’s kind of related to it. The front door is one of them and I’ve often said that it would be great to be able to somehow share the GPS information that the Postal Service has through these mobile delivery devices to know exactly where that mail moment is occurring.

Chris: 07:12 Where is the mail receptical? I know in my case, just personally to share with our listeners here, our home is on like a 20 acre hobby farm and I think I’ve talked about that in some different venues with the horses and chickens and goats and things like that that my wife has on the farm. Well, my point on all that is that the pinpoint of the property for us is actually not at the mail moment. That’s up by the road with our curbside mailbox. The pinpoint for our property, if you’re going to look at it is actually either if you really precise, is going to be somewhere down by the pond where I’m not living in getting my mail moment or could even in some cases when you’re like driving over to find the house, it puts you like a couple of houses down in the road because it’s out in a rural setting.

Chris: 07:49 So having that pinpoint location of exactly where the mail moment is occurring I think would be very useful to a lot of marketing companies and hopefully there’s an opportunity moving forward with them. We also heard a little bit about election mail and of course right now here we are, I’m recording this in early November and we’re all talking about the 2020 presidential election and an anticipation for increased political mailing. While we’re already starting to see that right now, Tammy Patrick, Senior Advisor for Elections with Democracy Fund, gave a wonderful presentation that talked about how there are some challenges when we talk about vote by mail as well as opportunities that can be brought about with that. Noting that very few of the States actually have it easy to be able to do vote by mail. Many of the States currently right now, how you have to have some kind of an excuse, a required or a waiver or something like that to be able to vote by mail.

Chris: 08:42 And then there are a few States on the other end of the spectrum that uh, that’s all they do is vote by mail our vote at home as they call. And so there’s an opportunity to do that. But she did talk about how there’s challenges with an understanding of change of address processing. Most of the people that they were surveying to look at how they are voting and when they move, don’t understand that you need to still file a change of address with the Postal Service. There seems to be kind of a misunderstanding that Hey, if I move across town and I’m in a different voting district, that somehow the Postal Service or the election groups would somehow pick up the fact that I’ve changed my address and it doesn’t work like that. We need to have people file a change of address in a timely and predictable manner so that we can pick that up through the NCOALink products to make sure that we’re getting people their ballots on time and then also having that arrive as well.

Chris: 09:28 We did talk a little bit about seamless acceptance as a reminder, full service will be seamless on July 1st, 2021 so on July 1st, 2021, seamless is going to be the way that you need to go. So if you’re going to be doing full service mailings with the U.S. Postal Service, I know that’s still a ways out and the adoption is continuing with it, which is good, but we’ve got a little ways to go with that. Finally, I do want to go back to cybersecurity. As I mentioned before, and MTAC recognizes the importance of that. There’s a lot of conversations around that, including conversations about the anticipated law, the California Consumer Protection Act, CCPA, and what that might have as an impact to the mailing industry. And so MTAC is proposing a task team right now, a business mailer, security and privacy priorities with an expected beta completion of March 31st of 2020 and this is going to focus on areas such as cybersecurity, ransomware, all the things that I talked about before, its impact on chief information, security officers, IT, asset protection, and so forth.

Chris: 10:28 The desired results for this task team would be for the Postal Service security roadmap to align and the interest concerns so we can understand and what the Postal Service has in mind. Look at how that squares up with the industry, talk about best practices and communication tools and cybersecurity protection as well as just education for small and medium mail groups and just a number of different things. So it’s really gonna focus on that part of it. This is sponsored for the Postal Service for the chief information security officer, Greg Crabb, as well as the vice president of product innovation, Gary Reblin and Steve Monteith, vice president of marketing. So this is a task team is what is currently proposed as. And as a reminder for our listeners, task teams are one of the three committees that MTAC has. We have user groups which everybody can be participating in and it’s encouraged that you get involved with a user group that aligns with your focus area. There are work groups which can be MTAC members and industry experts that are focusing on a particular issue that we’re going to work through and that can sometimes take several months to get resolved. And then task teams and task teams are very laser focused, if you will. And that’s exactly what this is, is focus very specifically on business mailer security and privacy priorities and the members of the task team are selected and presented to the executive leadership team at MTAC to approve to be on that. So we’re hoping that that task team will get started quickly. I did make a recommendation for a representative from BCC Software to be part of that. Since I know we’ve got a lot of customers, thousands of customers that are really concerned about cybersecurity and, and just making sure that as they’re working with their customers and provisioning that data through our services, that they’re keeping that secure, protected all the time, which is paramount for all of us.

Chris: 12:02 So those are some of the highlights from MTAC. Again, always good conversations that are going on. If you’ve got any further questions or concerns or just like to know more about it, please visit BCCsoftware.com or give us a phone call. Thanks everyone and hope to talk to you soon.

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