The Deutsche Bahn has moved its internal communications over to a hybrid mail solution. The principle: employees decide for themselves which documents they want to produce digitally and which in hard copy. The technology is based on the "ePostSelect" system developed by Swiss Post Solutions; it works as a profile database and dispatcher for mailing.
The German railway system, Deutsche Bahn, employs approx. 280,000 employees worldwide. It's easy to imagine, then, the volume of documentation they produce, just internally. Just think of the monthly salary slips sitting as download files on a virtual employee portal. The problem is that very few employees use it. Some do not have regular Internet access, while others prefer the conventional mail route. The portal is therefore hardly a credible digital alternative to physical mail. Employees unwilling or unable to use it receive their pay slips in their mailbox at home, just as they always have.
The railway company was therefore in search of an "active" hybrid mail solution that would reach all employees, regardless of their IT requirements or preferences. It should be a platform that works with various digital channels and still offers the option of a hardcopy mailing if the recipient so desires. The employees' existing email addresses should serve as the basis, without the separate accounts that many standard digital mail solutions use.
If not by email, then by letter
They chose "ePostSelect", a system developed by Swiss Post Solutions (SPS), in which the recipient selects the distribution channel (see box 3 for the benefits and functions of "ePostSelect"). The basic principle of this hybrid mail solution is that every document, regardless of format, is generated reliably and verifiably without the sender or recipient having to change their existing infrastructure. "ePostSelect" works as a virtual dispatcher that receives documents as print data and then prepares it for the appropriate channels, depending on the recipient's preference. The sender need not make expensive changes to existing OM structures, which unnecessarily ties up resources. By linking the email and home address, the system guarantees every communication will reach its destination, if not via an electronic route, then a physical one.
"ePostSelect" offers workflows that leave the delivery path for any type of document completely up to the sender and recipient. Even sensitive legal documents, whose delivery must be documented, can be sent using "ePostSelect". Data security is assured by the patented SAFE technology. IncaMail, an electronic mail solution developed by SPS, has a high encryption standard that prevents unauthorized access to document content (see also box 2). Furthermore, SPS production centers are certified by ISO 27001 and PCI DSS (security standard for credit card companies), offering one of the highest security standards available.
It was this outstanding degree of data protection that won over management and the Works Council at Deutsche Bahn. One of the main requirements for the new system was that employees' private email addresses be stored externally and not within the company itself. Also key to the selection of "ePostSelect" was its internationality. It is not limited to specific e-delivery offers of individual countries, but open for all channels. This is a major criterion for the railway, since the majority of its employees work outside Germany. Furthermore, IncaMail is a secure mail solution that can be deployed internationally.
The Deutsche Bahn began to introduce "ePostSelect" in January 2012. Meanwhile most of the employees are tied into the system and acceptance of the digital channel is steadily growing. Soon it will be used for other processes that allow for an immediate digital response. One example might be processing of job ticket requests for railway employee travel passes. In future each employee will receive a pre-filled request (active online form). The employee then completes or confirms the form, sending structured data back to the system. This eliminates physically processing the requests using a scanner or OCR reader. Other scenarios are easy to envision.
All formats can be processed
"ePostSelect" technology is based in part on DocBridge Pilot, a platform-independent software product that bundles documents of any format for cost-optimized mailing and prepares them for output over various physical and digital channels. The principle: the import of the documents to be processed is kept separate from the output of the mailings. The software developed by Compart, a provider of multichannel-capable document management systems, copies the data and converts it while retaining the file format. At this stage, the document can be modified, distributed, classified, indexed, and converted into different formats. This enables documents to be displayed, printed, archived and further processed virtually anywhere. The information for this process is extracted as metadata. While the software assigns the data to a central pool, the metadata is stored in a relational database.
This feature provided by Compart is also important in the "ePostSelect" project at Deutsche Bahn. The software takes the sender's print data and prepares it for recipient-specific output, i.e. the right channel. "ePostSelect", that is DocBridge Pilot, automatically decides whether a document should be sent as an email attachment (PDF), encrypted (using IncaMail), or in print form. The system takes the recipient's home address from the document and combines it with the stored email address, if available. This automatically generates a query to the integrated profile database for the recipient's preferred method of receipt, digital or physical. If electronic mail is not selected, the document is sent via regular mail. In this case a note is added to the document informing the recipient that future mail can also be sent via IncaMail. But the final decision is the employee's.
Powerful alliance for multichannel-capable output management
One of Compart's long-term collaborators, Docucom, also took part in the project. This systems company is one of Switzerland's leading suppliers of integration solutions for document processing. For "ePostSelect", Docucom made the customer-specific adaptations and modifications to DocBridge Pilot and custom-designed a user interface to meet SPS and Deutsche Bahn requirements.
Docucom had already successfully completed numerous projects with Swiss Post Solutions, particularly in the area of conversion and formatting. So it was obvious that Compart and this OM specialist join forces in developing "ePostSelect". Urs Fischer, Head of Security & Identity Products at Swiss Post Solutions: "For years we have known Compart as a proven expert for format-independent and multichannel-capable optimization of data streams. So this three-pronged alliance is ideal for implementing such a complex and visionary project as ePostSelect." Fischer added that Compart provides innovative and powerful products and Docucom proven know-how in integration and project management.
Swiss Post Solutions (SPS)
This full-service provider of Swiss Post (Swiss Post Solutions) sees itself as the "interface between physical and electronic communication." Appropriately, the SPS portfolio is widely diversified. In addition to products, solutions and services for e.g. customer relations (loyalty, payback programs, including card production, points administration, inbound/outbound telephony), finance (billing, statements) and marketing (mailings, campaigns), the company also focuses on document and output management. SPS offers not only traditional printing services, including transpromo and white-space marketing, but also solutions for hybrid mailing and incorporating electronic communication channels such as IncaMail and ePostSelect.
SPS has particular expertise in optimizing overall workflows in document production. Connecting the physical and the digital is always involved. The development of forward-looking strategies and the implementation of operational business models is of primary importance.
As a division of Swiss Post, the global company employs approx. 6,400 worldwide. Swiss Post Solutions (SPS) has representatives in 16 countries, with its core markets in Europe and the USA. In 2011 the company generated turnover of 549 million Swiss francs (CHF).
Swiss Post Solutions Europe (Document Output Locations)
- Welwyn Garden City/Herfordshire (Great Britain)
- Dettingen/Teck (Germany)
- Prien (Germany): Healthcare
- Mülligen/Härkingen (Switzerland)
Swiss Post Solutions Germany
9 Locations in Germany, including in
- Bamberg (Headquarters): incl. card production (BahnCard, payback program)
- Dettingen: physical and digital document production
- Munich: marketing, loyalty programs
- Oberhausen: billing for municipal utilities and telecommunications suppliers
- Waltershausen: scanning, industrial mail receipt processing, credit card request processing
- Pulsnitz: inbound/outbound telephony, order processing
- Deutsche Bahn
- BP Douglas
- Kabel Deutschland
- Lindt Sprüngli
- Zurich Financial Services
The secure mail solution of Swiss Post Solutions (SPS) combines the comfort of standard email transmission with the highest security standards possible for electronic mail exchange. All the content of an IncaMail is encrypted based on patented technology and can be opened by the recipient only with a password. Unlike comparable digital mail solutions such as E-Postbrief or De-Mail, IncaMail does not require a separate email address. Nor does IncaMail require lengthy authentication processes. All that is required is a one-time digital registration of a user name and password, along with address and identity verification if applicable.
No tedious authentication
Alexander Schäfer, Senior Management, Strategy and Transformation at SPS: "IncaMail intentionally avoids lengthy identification processes to keep digital mailing as simple as possible for companies and private users. Instead we rely on a technology that makes any type of misuse virtually impossible." Schäfer pointed out that no one needs to present an ID at the post office to have regular mail delivered. As long as the address is correct, mail arrives. Users also expect digital mail to be just as easy.
In IncaMail, mail and all attachments are packed in a virtual envelope, encrypted, and forwarded to the user's current email address. Content is not saved along the way – as is standard in other comparable solutions – but goes straight to the recipient's in-box without requiring download from an external server.
For especially important documents: IncaMail as electronic registered letter
IncaMail offers a registered letter function for legal documents requiring delivery verification. Here the basic principle is reconciling the recipient's email address and home address. A recipient then receives a physical letter containing a code for one-time activation of the IncaMail system using their password. This confirms that the individual really is the user registered to the corresponding email address. In future, very important documents can be sent as an electronic registered letter. When the mail is opened, the sender automatically receives notification with a qualified signature.
This form of electronic proof of delivery makes IncaMail particularly interesting to industries that rely heavily on delivery verification.
Benefits of IncaMail at a glance:
- Use of existing email address
- Dispatch via Webmail (Webmail interface for private customers)
- Receipt in existing in-box using SAFE technology
- Worldwide availability
- Deliveries to unregistered users also possible
Absolutely secure delivery
- No interim storage
- Delivery via encrypted attachment
- Patented SAFE technology
- Different identification levels
- Directly from the existing mail system (e.g., Outlook, Lotus Notes, etc.)
- Transmission and receipt right from business software, including mobile terminals
Conclusion: Without a doubt, IncaMail is an attractive option for sending legally binding digital mail. However it does assume that the recipient and the sender know each other's valid email address, which is not always the case. What happens when the provider suddenly changes and with it, the address? How can reliable delivery still be guaranteed? How can the document be generated in hard copy when the recipient cannot be reached electronically? It was for this purpose that SPS developed the "ePostSelect" system.
Underlying the "ePostSelect" hybrid mail platform developed by Swiss Post Solutions is the recipient's freedom of choice. He or she decides which documents are sent and how, whether electronically (email, IncaMail, De-Mail) or physically (fax, letter). "ePostSelect" uses all channels, operating as a virtual dispatcher. The sender transfers the documents to the platform as print data and need not bother with channel-specific preparation and output. That is the task of "ePostSelect" or SPS.
At the core of "ePostSelect" technology is a profile database that archives the email address, home address, and the recipient's permission to accept electronic deliveries. Each time the system checks how the document can be delivered. If there is no email address or permission for digital delivery has not been provided, the document is sent in hard copy. The recipient can also select whether and which documents should be encrypted. The integrated "IncaMail" channel (see box 2) from "ePostSelect" also offers this option. SPS is also planning to expand the platform to use De-Mail addresses.
Present on all channels
"ePostSelect" allows users to customize how they receive documents. Highly confidential documents could be encrypted and sent electronically via IncaMail, for example, and normal documents as regular email. Whatever the recipient selects, only one single email address is required without the need to go through an extensive authentication step. Using "ePostSelect" is as easy as entering the code previously received by regular mail on the Swiss Post Solutions Web site. Delivery preferences can also be indicated there. A link is then sent by email, and the user is automatically registered with "ePostSelect" once the link is activated.
"ePostSelect" is multiculti
The sender is relieved of the burden of changing the existing document and management (OM) IT structure. It's as easy as sending the data to SPS, just like in traditional print outsourcing, only now the sender has the full delivery bandwidth at his disposal. No matter what communication channel the recipient prefers, the sender needs only supply the data. Investments in the five- or six-figure range, not uncommon to continually modify and enhance OM structures (e.g. adding new communication channels), are a thing of the past. The sender also has a choice: if the document must be sent registered, "ePostSelect" can do it easily, whether electronically (with the recipient's permission) or physically.
Another benefit: International e-post solutions and channels can be used and integrated with ease – yet another reason why global players like Deutsche Bahn choose "ePostSelect".
Compart is a leading international supplier of multi-channel solutions for document management. The company, headquartered in Germany, has been a market presence for over twenty years and has subsidiaries in Europe and North America as well as a network of partners in Latin America.
Compart helps companies boost the efficiency of their operations with solutions for quick and flexible processing of high-volume data streams and document quantities. The scalable and platform-independent DocBridge® family of products, designed, developed and supported by Compart, allows documents to be output anytime, anywhere, digitally or on paper.
The company enjoys a worldwide reputation as an innovative market leader as well as a developer of professional and leading-edge solutions in the field of document management. More than 1,200 customers in 42 countries rely on Compart solutions, in industries that range from finance, insurance, and retail to printers, telecommunications, utilities and healthcare. Furthermore, Compart is a technology partner for numerous leading manufacturers in the industry.