IBM to Bring International Postal System Into the On Demand Era

The International Post Corporation Turns to IBM to Assist With Measurement of International Mail Service, Helping to Transform and Improve Global Postal Operations

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SOMERS, NY - 22 Apr 2004: IBM today announced that its consulting division, Business Consulting Services, has been awarded a contract by International Post Corporation (IPC) to help them transform and manage UNEX, an Internet-based quality measurement system for the international postal organization. The new measurement system will allow postal operators to be more responsive and react quickly to deteriorating delivery times, and facilitates the speedy settling of accounts between the countries' postal operators. IBM and IPC aim to have the system fully operational by 2005. In order to achieve this, more than a half-million test letters will be sent between 36 countries every year.

IBM will constantly track and measure the quality of mail delivery worldwide and provide IPC with frequent reports on whether 36 countries in Europe, North America and Asia/Pacific are delivering the mail on time. The frequent quality measurement reports will assist postal operators to react quickly if the service does not live up to international standards; for example, in Europe, a normal delivery time is three days.

Quality measurement reports are also used to settle accounts between the countries. There is therefore a great demand that the information be fair and impartial.

"International Post Corporation members subscribe to common goals to provide customers with consistently reliable postal service of a high quality. Our agreement with IBM will help us to achieve those goals together," said Gene Columbo, Director, Market & Quality, IPC.

"The new measurement system, UNEX, will further support the transformation of the way postal operations are handled and will support postal operators in their efforts to improve the quality of services for international mail customers. Postal operators globally will enhance their customer service in terms of both speed & reliability," commented Phil Upshall, Postal Industry Leader, IBM BCS EMEA.

Within Europe, the quality measurements are used for the calculation of terminal dues. This is a calculation system that rewards postal operators according to how good their delivery times are in the individual countries. The quality measurements are thus of vital significance for the postal operators' finances and for relations with their customers.

IBM will work with IPC to track the letters using RFID technology. Most of the test letters will carry a transponder, known as RFID (radio frequency identification) transmitters, to enable tracking. Using the transponders, automatic registration occurs when the letters pass reading stations at relevant places in the postal system. With RFID, it is possible to identify precisely how long a letter is in the country of origin, in the recipient country and in the transport process between two countries. Thus, the radio transmitter reveals where in the postal system the service can be optimized to the benefit of the customers.

The letters will be sent back and forth between 36 countries using IBM's test panel involving approx. 3,000 people. Via IBM's new Internet solution, the test panelists will now be able to report daily when they have sent and received the test letters. The half-million test letters reflect all the different characteristics of letters that exist in the real post world, and are statistically representative.

IBM Business Consulting Services has worked with both national and international quality measurements since the early 1990s. IBM Business Consulting Services today conducts and supports national quality measurements in 10 countries and is also responsible for several international quality measurements. IBM Business Consulting Services has competence centres for the postal industry in Copenhagen and Washington, D.C.

In the U.S., IBM Business Consulting Services measures postal service performance for overnight, two-day and three-day service areas to provide national, area office, and PC estimates of service performance. This data is compared with Postal Service delivery standards and the results are presented to the public each postal quarter.

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