Events / Startups

When did the National Postal Forum turn into a tech conference?

The event at the Baltimore Convention Center this week had startups, tech lingo and even a puppy booth. Mailtech is now a thing.

Not your grandfather's Postal Service. (Photo by Flickr user Aranami, used under a Creative Commons license)

When seeing the National Postal Forum on Baltimore’s list of conferences, tech may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But as the event began at the Baltimore Convention Center this week, the attending companies had plenty of announcements showing that the shipping industry is innovating.
Still, there were mailtech (we’re going for it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) companies like Alexandria-based Click2Mail introducing a tool that allows the sending of physical docs right from Microsoft Word. There was New Jersey-based GrayHair Software rolling out new data visualization tools (they even had puppies).

A pitch competition was scheduled, but ended up getting cancelled.
Then there’s a 97-year-old company like Pitney Bowes, which now describes itself as a tech company. In some ways, that’s not surprising, as the company’s original posted meter was the latest tool in 1920. But in recent years, that’s meant a push to integrate digital tools with the physical products that are being sent. The company now has a large software team, and has partnerships with a host of tech companies.
One area where that’s playing out is in cloud. Pitney Bowes VP for SMB Solutions Jeff Crouse said the company has been rolling out new ways to give small and medium-sized businesses the tools that bigger companies have. One connects the postage meter to the cloud.
The company is increasingly focusing on data that’s being gathered during the shipping process. “The data on the backend is really valuable for the client experience,” Crouse said.
The Forum, which is run in partnership with the U.S. Postal Service, remains a go-to for the industry because it has evolved over time, Crouse said.
“It brings out the latest and greatest,” he said.


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