Get certified or lose discount, NZ Post warns

From July 1 next year, addressing data must be 85% accurate when compared with NZ Post's files

Organisations that fail to have their mailing databases certified as being compliant with the new New Zealand Post addressing standards by July 1 2008 will lose their bulk mailing discounts, the state-owned enterprise says.

Last year, NZ Post changed both the postal codes and the presentation standards for addressing. This was done to allow for the automation of the mail sorting system, so as to reduce processing costs.

Discounts begin at 300 pieces of mail and range up to the 20% mark, so a lot of money is at stake.

From July 1 next year, addressing data must be 85% accurate when compared with NZ Post’s files. Each year, New Zealand Post has 22 million mail items returned because they are wrongly addressed.

Mastersoft is the first data-quality management company to be certified by NZ Post as having a customer mailing database that meets the new standards. Mastersoft country manager Peter Hicks says up to 25% of people change their address each year, so databases are constantly out of date.

Over 1.1 billion customer records are validated and consolidated through Mastersoft software in Australia and New Zealand each year. The Australian-based company, which was established in 1989, pioneered knowledge-based information technology that provides organisations with the means to achieve high levels of customer-information quality.

“The software is based on an expert system built on university research,” Hicks says. “It was initially designed to organise and manage names and addresses. That sounds simple, but, in fact, what it does is eliminate multiple instances of records, breaking them down and reassembling them into databases.”

Mastersoft’s traditional customer base has been banks, insurance companies and government departments.

The mainframe application has been redeveloped over the past 18 months as a Java-based application that sits in the middleware of a company. Named Harmony, the new application has been rolled out at two sites in Australia so far. Hicks says the first of its New Zealand customers is about to upgrade.

The company has 12 customers in New Zealand, but sees growth opportunity with the new NZ Post requirements. Hicks says he’s about to hire three or four staff and establish an office in Auckland.

With the change to Java, licensing has changed from perpetual to an annual fee that includes a usage charge based on record numbers.

“It will certainly be cheaper,” he says.

The software has also been redeveloped to cope with double bytes, so it can handle Kanji and Mandarin. The company plans to pitch to India and China.

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