UPU World CEO Forum develops clear vision for postal transformation
This is what emerges from the debates of the Second Annual CEOs Forum, organized by the UPU in Moscow (Russian Federation).
The event, organized by the UPU and hosted by Russian Post between 17-19 September, gathered nearly 60 postal chief executives from around the globe to discuss “Leading multidimensional growth: the hows and whys of postal strategy”.
“After gathering our CEOs for a second time, it is clear that this forum is a vital space for our postal executives to put their heads together to find ways to drive the sector forward. With participants from all corners of the world represented at this forum, we have heard a diversity of proven strategies that CEOs can take back to their Posts,” said UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein.
For his part, Russian Post CEO Nikolay Podguzov added: “The CEO Forum is a great place for exchanging thoughts on important topics and to meet our partners. We thank the UPU for this opportunity. We met here with our colleagues from Slovenian Post. Today we started test shipments from China to Slovenia via Mongolia by railroad. The first bulk of parcels and small packets reached Ulaanbaatar by truck, and then reloaded onto an RZD carriage to Moscow. After that the dispatches will be delivered to Slovenia by trucks.”
This year’s forum guided CEOs through the process of diagnosing the global environment in which Posts operate, later examining how they are currently delivering stakeholder needs, and finally determining potential business models they could implement at their respective Posts.
It became clear that growth of the economy and trade, changing demographics, the e-commerce explosion were all broad factors affecting the Post. These factors – in combination with customers’ desire for immediate, personalized digital services and government stipulations for universal service – have created both challenges and opportunities for the Post.
CEOs noted that pressure from governments to deliver some services at a loss coupled with a lack of government investment in postal infrastructure, as well as limitations in managing capital, made it difficult for them to transform their service offering. In addition to this, they remarked on the challenge of raising employees’ awareness of the need for transformation. It became clear that some developing countries also faced the challenge of serving two different customers: the internet-connected urban client and the rural one relying on traditional paper-based services.
Despite the challenges, postal executives were quick to name potential solutions. For example, CEOs suggested that Posts work with governments to redefine their universal service obligation and increase awareness of the Post’s potential as a driver of socioeconomic sustainability. Another proposal was integrating employees more into the transformation process—whether through retraining or the creation of new positions—so that they become advocates of change within the Post.
Postal leaders later examined specific business models they could use, discussing several dichotomies seen in successful postal strategies, namely margin-based vs. volume-based focus, progressive growth vs. leapfrogging, mono-product vs. diversification and competition vs. coopetition approaches.
It was clear that spaces created by the UPU, such as the CEO Forum, would be important to give postal leaders the opportunity to benchmark. The UPU Director General reminded CEOs that the UPU was available to them to help countries define and redefine their universal service obligation, as well as to provide governments, regulators and operators with technical solutions and assistance toward postal infrastructure development.
The UPU has already started preparations for the 2018 edition of the forum, announcing Turkey as the next host country. The UPU Director General said he was confident that next year’s event would be just as successful after Turkey’s seamless hosting of the 2016 Universal Postal Congress in Istanbul. The exact timing of the 2018 forum will be announced by the UPU at a later date.