Pitney Bowes Customer Summit

Jeff Hayes
Sep 15, 2010

Pitney Bowes’ Document Messaging Technologies group held their 2010 Customer Summit this week in Danbury, Connecticut. The event was attended by approximately 180 people from 12 countries including many of the largest corporate mail centers, data center service bureaus, and direct mail printers. Two of the most significant items were:

  • White Paper Factory demo of the HP IntelliJet press and the new PB Print+Messenger system
  • Announcement of PB’s TransPromo marketplace service which may finally help realize the potential of using bills and statements as a viable marketing channel

Enabling the White Paper Factory

Pitney Bowes pointed out that transaction print and mail are often co-located, but uncoupled manufacturing functions supporting legacy systems applications. PB’s focus is to link print AND mail operations into an integrated workflow that enables significant productivity improvements and new revenue streams. PB is pushing the idea of a White Paper Factory that does not require any pre-printing or storage of shells, forms, or envelopes by using the IntelliJet printer and Print+Messenger system.

PB printed a roll of color statements with logos, personalized “onserts” and 2D barcodes with the IntelliJet system. They also printed a roll of personalized color inserts with the IntelliJet. PB then connected the rolls of statements and inserts to the the Print+Messenger system which handles the slitting, merging, stuffing, addressing, franking, and printing of color graphics on the envelopes at a rate of 20,000 pieces per hour.

I am not sure if a large corporate mailer could justify the technology investment solely by eliminating pre-printed material. Depending on running costs some mailers may be able to achieve a desired ROI just from cost savings. My sense is most companies will need to see uplift from the use of color to enhance the statement and promote services to make a business case.

From watching the demo’s and speaking with the PB customers, it is pretty clear to me that print and mail centers are going to change with much tighter integration, more extensive use of color, and greater revenue generating activities.  I look for the innovative mail houses to move first, and for PB’s Print+Mail concept to move down market over time.

TransPromo Marketplace

PB introduced a very innovative TransPromo marketing portal that is designed to create a market place for selling advertising space on the remnant white space of bills and statements. PB has created a suite of tools that can analyze and “characterize” a biller’s statement to determine the amount of white space, location (e.g. first page, second page), dimensions, cycles, and other attributes. They can also profile the people who receive the statements against various demographic and psychographic profiles.

Through the portal a prospective advertiser can specify which audiences he is trying to reach and then upload or link content assets (graphics, text, promo codes, etc.) with the statement. The document owner (biller) receives notification of any advertising that will appear on her bill and then approves the marketing message. The system has a dashboard for reporting on pieces sent that can be linked with other data (e.g. web site activity, call center).

PB is responsible for managing the site, collecting and dispersing advertising fees, and promoting usage among advertising agencies, brand marketers, and the owners of the bills and statements. PB did not indicate if it has any charter members or when the system will be live.

TransPromo has been a very elusive concept to realize. There is quite a bit of “friction” between marketing and IT, as well as document owners and third-party advertisers. Basically, there is too much effort and uncertain returns. PB has really thought through the process and invested significantly in creating the tools and conditions for a TransPromo market place. They are even “eating their own cooking” by having the PB postage meter statements that go out to approximately 1.5 million businesses every month be part of the system. I believe this TransPromo initiative is significant and could be a game changer if it takes off.

PB Business Recovery Services and Customer Innovation Center

PB gave customers a tour of their 70,000 square foot Business Recovery operation and their Customer Innovation Center. At the recovery operation PB has 40 full-time employees and capacity to produce approximately 15 million black & white impressions per day on their arsenal of over 10 Xerox DP 180 cut sheet and 20 Oce roll fed printing systems. PB has around 40 clients that use this facility and can handle two incidents simultaneously. Hurricane season is often one of the busiest times of the year.

Within the Recovery Operation PB has their Innovation Center for staging customer applications and demonstrating their HP IntelliJet printing system.  PB talked extensively about their close relationship with HP on development and integration issues. PB was responsible for many design changes as well as the controller development and integration with their inserting and metering systems.

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