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Monday, May 5, 2014

UPU News : Moving into the digital age

Poste Italiane’s Mark Fardelli is the newly elected chairman of the .post group, officially created during the Postal Operations Council in April 2013. Twenty-eight member countries have already joined the group, which also welcomed one associate member, IT giant, Cisco (U.K.).
The group held its first general assembly shortly after its creation to discuss next steps and define a work programme. Fardelli says the initial response to the .post group is very positive, especially with support coming from all areas of the world. 
Why should member countries be interested in .post?
Mark Fardelli: Because it’s the post in a digital world. It’s the future. Everyone is going in that direction and so must we. The digital dimension of the postal sector has to be grasped fully, and .post is one of the best ways to bring Posts’ traditional values into the digital world. To translate that from the physical to the digital world would be fantastic. That’s a massive advantage for operators and member countries. 

The .post group has now been created. How do you feel about this historic moment?
Everyone is excited and keen to further develop .post. There are many valid ideas, and we will need to focus and use our strengths as a group to create one single, strong vision. Everyone’s vision makes perfect sense for their own reality, but we need to mix them together. That might be challenging, but I’m sure we will be able to do it. 

What does your work programme entail?
We have outlined several macro tasks to work on. These include developing a strategy, promotion and helping group members that have a concept for a service on the .post platform develop test-bed applications.
We also have to look at governance and monitoring issues with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the .post management policy, budgeting and financing and services to enhance e-commerce, for example.
We are certainly at the beginning, but not at the very beginning. Some concepts and applications are more or less ready to be used over .post. It’s just a matter of further increasing this critical mass of members. We need to make sure everyone knows what the possibilities of .post are. 

The majority of .post group members are UPU member countries or postal operators. Why was a private company like Cisco allowed to become an associate member?
As much as we’d like to do everything ourselves, we realize we will need help in some areas. So it’s more than welcome if we have companies like Cisco, a major player in the IT industry, that can help us with certain aspects that are not within the know-how of all the members. 

What pilots have been launched to test possible .post applications?
Some applications have been set up between members, such as the PREM service between Italy and Macau that was successfully demonstrated during the Doha Congress. While the technical side is ready, we are now looking at the business modelling side of this application. The good news is that at the UPU level, the technical standard for this new service has gone from Status 0 to Status 1 at the UPU Standards Board. This will eventually enable other member countries to use this standard to develop similar services. 

What can .post bring to developing countries, where even the physical mail network is not particularly well developed. Are they ready for the electronic world?
I have asked myself that question and I think the answer lies in the fact that they can see the opportunities the .post platform offers. They will have at their disposal a platform at reduced costs, enabling them to offer quality, digital postal services.
They could have just waited to see what would happen, but instead they decided to invest in the .post group from the start. We have to help them realize what they see. If there’s a possibility to use .post to enter into the digital world more easily and quickly, then it’s going to be useful for them
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