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API Management 4 minutes

IT is in the Mail

RZW pasfoto 2020
Ruben van der Zwan
CEO & Co-Founder
IT is in the mail
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IT is in the mailYou might think that mail, whether it’s packages or letters as well as last questions of the analog world. And although the last 10 feet are still done by hand in many cases (putting a letter in the mailbox or actually handing over package) in between there is more IT than you will probably imagine.

IT is not only necessary to make your organization more agile and more lean it’s also simply not possible to process the volume of letters and packages each day. The Dutch Postal Service (POSTNL) handles more than 10 million letters per day and half a million packages according to an article in the Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad. That is indeed a large number, without IT that would be impossible. In the night before Sinterklaas, the Dutch equivalent of Santa Claus and one of the most important gift giving moments of the year, a description in IT was the course that 40.000 packages could not be delivered. Description of service is never fun but especially on the night this it will result in angry phone calls and unwanted headlines in newspapers and on TV.

IT is everywhere

Letters are different from packages. On the letter you write down the address, affix a stamp and deposit the letter in the mailbox. A package however you bring to the post office (if you still have one) with all of the details written on the outside. The Post Office clerk enters the address where you want to send it, optionally your address or return address increase will be delivered in some of the stuff into the system. The system will then print out a shipping label and will hand you over the receipt of the payment with perhaps even a tracking code. The package is scanned and waits to be picked up later that day. There are many permutations of this process. And almost all of them involve some sort of IT. Whether it is that you print your own packaging labels, print your own digital stamps or have stamps with an image you like printed as a service, IT is really in every corner of every process in the company. The Postal Service in your country will probably also have an app that will allow you to track and trace items being shipped to you and, something that we see becoming more and more popular the trends to redirect delivery to delivery point or to another location where someone will be able to pick up the package.

Near real time IT

When you look at the processes that occur in this process there are a lot of workflow processes with touch points to the consumer. There is already I think more than a decade old the whole concept of track and trace but is still one of the processes that has been copied and admired by other organizations you can see some sort of track and trace also in other industries making sure that in a long-running process at specific points in the process communication takes place with stakeholders to tell them where in the process their application or even the package is. And of course there is the mobile first strategy is mobile devices that smartphones and tablets are predominantly becoming preferred devices to check the status of the package and/or redirect it. That doesn’t mean, according to the article, that everyone sees the value add of IT.

Partners all over the world

One of the other things that you need to consider is that more and more packages are coming from outside of the country and from destinations outside of the country as well. This means that you need to have well-defined interfaces for instance in the form of an application programming interface or API that are managed, monitored and secured that will let your partners and clients access the service securely regardless of the device or location that you want to do it. Talking to foreign systems might even mean that you need to mediate or transform a message. One of the examples that I like to use is the one with the changes in date format between the United States and Europe. Without transformation of the content of the message the dates will be completely wrong (with some exceptions of course the month and number and a number are exactly the same). So apart from a platform that will manage your APIs you also need a platform that is able to integrate systems. In other words an Enterprise Service Bus or Enterprise Integrator as we now call it.

Top notch IT

But where do you find such components or systems that are actually able to do that. Well you will come to no surprise to you I think if I am to tell you that I have a pretty good idea where you can find it. We have  developed a selection guide for an API Manager that will help you focus on the functionality you need and select the solution that is best for your organization. You can download it from below for free.

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