Links to the resources mentioned in the podcast.
On today’s podcast, I discuss the August 29 price increase, resources to combat cybersecurity, and some upcoming industry events you don’t want to miss.
Welcome to the podcast! Well, despite numerous attempts by the industry the USPS went forward with the largest price increase in over a decade on August 29. This price increase, while averaging 6.8% was likely unbudgeted by everyone in the mailing industry and reflects a significant change to the CPI-U price cap that was foundational to the Postal Accountability Enhancement Act.
If there is one thing that seems to be ubiquitous throughout the mailing industry, it is the need for predictability, whether it is mail preparation, delivery, or pricing. Predictability in pricing is one of the major components for PAEA and with this price increase, that seems to be lost. As part of the PRC ten-year review, the USPS now has numerous levers to use to set pricing and with only a 90-day notification window for market dominant price notifications, we may be back to a level of uncertainty we haven’t seen in over a decade.
And the USPS is also once again implementing a market competitive package surcharge beginning October 3 and ending December 26. This means that within just twelve months, there will have been four major software releases for the industry; the most I recall ever seeing in the thirty years I’ve been in the mailing industry. Putting the industry in a state of perpetual update presents a significant challenge for software vendors, mail service providers, and the USPS as there are often unintended consequences with every price increase.
The mailing industry and MTAC worked collaboratively to establish a cadence of major and minor releases. This was meant to provide predictability as noted earlier, but also to provide sufficient time for the software vendors to introduce customer and market requested product enhancements that would often present new and innovative workshare opportunities to facilitate mail preparation and timely delivery. It also enabled the industry time to synchronize the Mail.dat specification, which is owned and maintained by DTAC, the Delivery Technology Advocacy Council, with changes to the DMM and PostalOne. In fact, PostalPro still lists Major and Minor Releases though it doesn’t seem to point to the scheduled cadence we used to have. Hopefully, perhaps with guidance from MTAC, we can once again return to a predictable cadence for price changes and major software releases.
Another topic that continues to gain importance is cybersecurity. The USPS has been focused on this for quite some time and recently published a new cybersecurity policy aligned to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 27001 framework. This approach provides a flexible strategy that incorporates modern risk management process standards. The mailing industry is also focused on the importance of cybersecurity. MTAC has established a Security Advisory Council (SAC) as one of its subgroups under the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee. This subgroup works with USPS to develop security and privacy best practices that can be shared with the business mailing community to help better protect their enterprises and their customers.
And the Delivery Technology Advocacy Council has also created a specific website with links to important online resources regarding cybersecurity. This includes USPS sites as well as corporate resources from companies such as AT&T and Ricoh, and some excellent educational sites to help defend against cyber-attacks. I encourage all of our customers and listeners to please visit the DTAC webpage to leverage this excellent information.
Finally, I wanted to remind everyone that we have an exciting week of events coming up. The week of September 20 is National PCC Week, and the National Postal Forum is also hosting NPF 2.0! As many of you know, I highly recommend all mail owners and mailing service providers to participate in their local Postal Customer Council. I have had the pleasure of speaking at many PCC events and they are always well attended and filled with great information, education opportunities, and a chance to connect with fellow mailing industry professionals.
Unfortunately, this year the PCC events will once again be virtual due to COVID. However, that should hopefully mean that more people can attend since we won’t need to travel. I know I am really looking forward to the Monday General Session on September 20, which will be hosted by Judy de Torok, who earlier this year was promoted to vice-president of corporate affairs. Judy and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy will discuss the latest on the USPS Delivering for America ten-year strategic plan, and then Judy will lead a roundtable of USPS corporate officers covering a range of topics including USPS readiness of this year’s peak season. Judy is well-known to the mailing industry, and I had the pleasure of working closely with her on the MTAC executive leadership team a number of years ago. She is someone I greatly respect and highly regard and I know her session is something you won’t want to miss.
Tuesday, September 21, will also have a general session hosted by chief customer and marketing officer Steve Monteith. Steve also serves as the MTAC USPS co-chair and will lead a panel of USPS corporate officers focusing on growth as part of the ten-year plan. The panel will specifically discuss emerging technology and products and will include well-known speakers such as Pritha Mehra.
And as I noted, NPF is going to host another virtual National Postal Forum that same week! There will be over 28 educational workshops, including a workshop I am leading on Monday, September 20 at 3pm where I will discuss the latest in address quality and emerging technology to improve the value of mail. I’m really looking forward to being part of this virtual NPF 2.0, though candidly I miss the in-person National Postal Forum. Hopefully, we can all get together for the 2022 Postal Forum in Phoenix Arizona! You can be sure that BCC Software will be there and will continue to actively support NPF and the Postal Customer Councils.
Thank you for listening to today’s podcast, and if you’d like to learn more about mail tracking, or how to better automate your mailing workflows, please visit us at bccsoftware.com or give us a call. As always, we’d like to know “How can we help?” Thank you for listening to the podcast, and have a great day!