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N°30  |  October   2008
Guest contributor
“Postal automation”
Interview with Shahrom Kiani, General Manager, Address Vision Inc.
S. Kiani


You've recently joint AddressVision, Inc (AVI) – a Bull’s subsidiary specialized in postal automation – as new General Manager, what is your vision on the evolution of Postal Automation?

Much progress has been made in the past twenty years in the field of Postal Automation. Postal Authorities employ variety of automation equipment to process letters, magazines, and packages using ever more sophisticated OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technologies. Hand written recognition performance is rapidly approaching that of machine print.

 

The latest focus has been on the “last mile”. That is sorting as much mail as possible to the delivery / walk sequence of the postal carrier. This is important in order to minimize the carrier’s in-office time sorting mail and maximize their time on the street to deliver the mail. To help achieve that, they are heavily emphasizing increased recognition and reduced error rates. Furthermore, postal authorities and their customers are paying special attention to tracking the mail and accurately measuring the service standards. In a nut shell, they want to have and monitor a deterministic delivery time.

Postal Authorities are looking for partners who have the keen capability to understand their often unique processes, help them identify weaknesses, and finally deliver “open architectures” solutions so that they are not stuck with just one vendor. They want to be able to easily and cost efficiently integrate new technologies as they become available.

What are the key strengths and value proposition of AVI on this market?
I joined AVI in mid-July. I had always been impressed with the company as it has been a leader in the Address Assignment and Postal Reporting field. As I’ve got to know our people and the projects we are working on, I am getting more impressed as to the depth of our expertise.

We have a major project with Australia Post (AP) to substantially improve their recognition performance. We won a competition against such heavy weight incumbents as Siemens and Lockheed-Martin.  The key to our selection by AP was our “OpenArc” solution. We are enabling them to have a truly Open Architecture and training them to be able to be self sufficient to add new technologies as they materialize. The cooperative relationship with AP is just amazing. Our people work as partners together with a single-minded goal of achieving and surpassing contractual obligations.  The benefit to each party is simple: AP gets the best possible performance and ability to finally get an Open Architecture system. AVI gets to help AP achieve their goals and also positions itself very well to get more challenging and innovative work in the near future.

And what is your roadmap?
Until more recently, AVI has been working in the background providing solutions to major couriers through prime contractors. Our solutions touch over 50% of the mail in the world and yet not many people, even those in the industry, know about it.

My goal is to position AVI more and more as a prime contractor and secure many more programs with major postal couriers. This can be done by not only well executing our current programs and showing a good track record, but also through offering unique and innovative solutions. We have a lot of good technologies and we need the industry to know about them.
We have recently completed analysis of our product portfolio. As a result, we have identified some gaps that we are addressing as we speak. One such solution is creation of a complete US RECO system that includes both machine print and hand written OCR. This product is under development with the target of having a prototype unit for test later this year. We are also placing renewed focus on extending and perfecting our Postal Reporting product that provides the necessary support to the recent mail tracking initiatives by the US Postal Services.

This is of course just the beginning. To set ourselves apart, we are already putting plans in motion to offer a few unique improvement options to our customers in the very near future. It won’t be too long before we are even a better known brand in the Postal Automation industry.

Shahrom Kiani joined AddressVision, Inc (AVI) from Trinity Technical Group, a startup providing mailing automation consulting and engineering services where he was Partner and Chief Financial Officer. Prior to that, as Vice President for Siemens Energy and Automation, he led a $130 million-per-year business unit providing material handling equipment and systems integration to major couriers, including the United States Postal Service, UPS, FedEx, and DHL. He also held other executive positions in Siemens with increasing levels of responsibilities and outstanding results. Shahrom holds a MBA from Southern Methodist University (SMU), and a master's of computer science and engineering from the University of Texas.

 

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