‘Location Intelligence is the backbone of ecommerce’

25th Jan 2018
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Manish Choudhary, Chairman, India Operations, Pitney Bowes Inc, says location intelligence helps in visualising last-mile delivery, logistics, and predictive analysis.

Founded as the Pitney Bowes Postage Meter Company in 1920, Pitney Bowes is now a $3.4 billion enterprise and a leading provider of ecommerce shipping and location intelligence technologies. Pitney Bowes provides customer engagement, customer information management, location intelligence, and mailing and shipping services to approximately 1 million customers in about 100 countries.

Manish Choudhary, the Senior VP for global SMB Products and Strategy and Chairman, India Operations, at Pitney Bowes Inc, spoke to Your Story about the capabilities of modern technologies to change shipping and information management.

Manish Choudhary, Senior VP Global SMB Products and Strategy, Chairman of India Operations for Pitney Bowes

Edited excerpts:

YS: How big is location intelligence for ecommerce, and how are SMBs using new technologies like AI/ML?

Manish: Location intelligence is pretty much the backbone of ecommerce. It is a horizontal capability in ecommerce in modern times - whether it is visualising last-mile delivery, helping logistics, or predicting who will buy what in which area. Be it demographics, spatial analytics, or optimising shipping to every ecommerce transaction, there is an element of “where”, and location intelligence along with data is key to how firms connect with consumers. The key to technology like AI/ML is that it should be so good and so sophisticated that it becomes invisible or disappears in the background. Most organisations are capturing only a fraction of the value AI/ML/Analytics provide. Most people start with the problem and the user, but, it is important to know what questions to ask for AI technologies to work well. There are some great examples of SMB-focused startups which are using AI/ML to provide services to Indian SMBs, but it is slower than the international segment.

YS: What do you think about Indian startups?

Manish: Startups are a great way to bring innovation from outside the organisation. Startup accelerators can play an important role in integrating with and growing existing business. We launched the Pitney Bowes startup accelerator in 2014, and have since mentored 23 startups. We have many success stories like eCourierz and Niki.Ai. We look at values and motivation. Motivation is a good indicator of potential to excel, advance, grow, and learn. As Jim Collins pointed out in his book Good to Great, it's easier to teach skills than work ethic.

YS: Are manufacturers using B2B platforms?

Manish: More and more manufacturers and businesses are migrating to B2B platforms. Increased revenues, bigger order sizes, easy to manage vendors, expanding market presence, automated shipping, and integrating inventor supply chain are the reasons why B2B ecommerce is growing really fast. You're essentially integrating sourcing to supply chain to transactions to marketing on these platforms. This is helping digital transformation for most companies.

YS: What is the pace of innovation that has happened in technology over the last decade?

Manish: Ten years is a long time in innovation. Ten years ago when Apple launched the iPhone, it led not only to a mobile revolution, but changed the way we live in the world today. Think of everything we do with our smartphones. We can control everything in our house, from the temperature to the volume of our speakers; even when we’re not there, we can control things from a remote location. We book cabs, and order groceries on the phone with minimum human intervention.

We are already hearing about driverless cars, missions to Mars, and other such things that were unthinkable years ago. AI, ML, and Robotics are changing the world and in another decade what we have today will be considered passé.

YS: How do you keep ahead of yourself as an individual and as a leader of a company?

Manish: Surround yourself with the best talent and keep improvising. An average idea with good people will eventually pivot; the opposite is not true. Also, stick to your game, don’t give up, As Elon Musk wisely said, “I never give up. I would have to be dead or completely incapacitated to do so.” Adoption is proportional to the size and maturity of the market in most cases.

YS: Which is the biggest market for technology and how is it growing?

Manish: More than a quarter of the $3.8 trillion global IT market is in the United States. High speed internet and penetration, payments, ecosystem of supply and demand, and overall maturity is higher in the West as compared to India. However, there is growth and in some unique ways India has proven to leapfrog. I see massive growth in India – it will be in the form of 3x billion, by linking 1 billion UIDs with 1 billion bank accounts and with 1 billion mobiles. This is unique in the world and is an example of tech adoption at an unprecedented scale.

India has tremendous potential with one of the largest SMB bases - sellers, manufacturers, and logistics. It also has the fastest growing parcel and shipping business. Watch out for peer-to-peer shipping data, analytics shipping, and logistics in ecommerce. In terms of shipping technologies in Asian markets, ecommerce has been growing tremendously in countries like China, Korea, and Thailand, and we've seen an upswing of sophisticated technologies in cross-border ecommerce, shipping and mailing.

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