Author Archives: bebtexas

USPS Driverless Test Run

The US Postal Service has entered into a contract with self-driving truck startup TuSimple to haul mail between Dallas and Phoenix. Founder, Xiaodi Hou says that this USPS pilot gives them fuel to help validate their system and expedite the technological development and commercialization progress.

TuSimple will complete five round trips between May 28 and June 10 while a safety engineer and licensed driver ride along in the cab. Its Level 4 self-driving system (see below for self-driving categories defined), uses 8 cameras to detect cars, pedestrians, and other obstacles over one-half a mile away, even in inclement weather.

TuSimple’s camera-based system allows it to achieve three centimeter (1.18 inch) precision for truck positioning even in inclement weather and tunnels with real-time decision making. By keeping aware of traffic flow ahead, trucks are able to maintain a given speed more consistently than human drivers which can cut fuel consumption by as much as 15%.

The USPS has been interested in self-driving technology for a long time. In 2017, a report published by the Inspector General detailed plans to add semi-autonomous mail trucks to its fleet as early as 2025. Placed into service on 28,000 rural routes, they would free up about 310,000 postal workers to sort and deliver packages.

TuSimple has R&D labs in San Diego and test facilities in Tuscon. It expects to close out 2019 with a 200-truck fleet in the US and a 300-truck fleet in China, making it the largest self-driving truck solutions company in the world.

Later this year, TuSimple will operate several self-driving trucks for 22 hours each along the I-10, I-20, and I-30 corridors through Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. It says freight along the I-10 corridor accounts for 60% of the US’s total economic activity. It expects its semi-autonomous trucks to be a frequent sight along that route in the months ahead.

Self-Driving Systems are categorized by five-levels:

Level 1- Driver Assistance-Under specific conditions, the car controls either the steering or the vehicle speed, but not both simultaneously. The driver performs all other aspects of driving and has full responsibility for monitoring the road and taking over if the assistance system fails to act appropriately. Cruise control is Level 1

Level 2- Partial Automation- The car can steer, accelerate, and brake only in certain circumstances. Maneuvers such as responding to traffic signals or changing lanes largely fall to the driver, as well as scanning for hazards.

Level 3- Conditional Automation-The car is able to manage most aspects of driving, including monitoring the environment. The system prompts the driver to intervene when it encounters a scenario it can’t navigate. The driver must be available to take over at any time.

Level 4 -High Automation-The vehicle can operate without human input or oversight but only under select conditions defined by factors such as road type or geographic area. In a shared car restricted to a defined area, there may not be any. But in a privately owned Level 4 car, the driver might manage all driving duties on surface streets then become a passenger as the car enters a highway.

Level 5- Full Automation-The vehicle can operate on any road and in any conditions a human driver could negotiate.

Prescriptive Analytics

Prescriptive analytics is the third and final phase of business analytics, which also includes descriptive and predictive analytics.

Prescriptive analytics goes beyond predicting future outcomes by also suggesting actions to benefit from the predictions and showing the implications of each decision option.

Prescriptive analytics not only anticipates what will happen and when it will happen, but also why it will happen. Further, prescriptive analytics suggests decision options on how to take advantage of a future opportunity or mitigate a future risk and shows the implication of each decision option. Prescriptive analytics can continually take in new data to re-predict and re-prescribe, thus automatically improving prediction accuracy and prescribing better decision options. Prescriptive analytics ingests hybrid data, a combination of structured (numbers, categories) and unstructured data (videos, images, sounds, texts), and business rules to predict what lies ahead and to prescribe how to take advantage of this predicted future without compromising other priorities.

Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics encompasses a variety of statistical techniques from data mining, predictive modelling, and machine learning, that analyze current and historical facts to make predictions about future or otherwise unknown events.

Predictive models identify patterns found in historical or transactional data to identify risks and opportunities. Models capture relationships among multiple factors to allow assessment of risk or potential associated with a particular set of conditions. The defining functional effect is a predictive or probability score for each.

One of the best-known applications is credit scoring, which is used throughout financial services. Scoring models process a customer’s credit history, loan application, customer data, etc., in order to rank-order individuals by their likelihood of making future credit payments on time.

Descriptive Analytics

Descriptive analytics is a preliminary stage of data processing that creates a summary of historical data to yield useful information and prepare the data for further analysis. Descriptive analytics is sometimes said to provide information about the past or what happened.

The vast majority of the statistics used today fall into this category. (Like sums, averages, or percentages).  For all practical purposes, there are an infinite number of these statistics. Descriptive statistics are useful to show things like, total stock in inventory, average dollars spent per customer and Year over year change in sales. Common examples of descriptive analytics are reports that provide historical insights regarding the company’s production, financials, operations, sales, finance, inventory and customers.

Descriptive, Predictive & RX


Companies are studying historical information, forecasting the future, and even getting  recommendations for a next move by using data and analytics. Data driven organizations have an edge over their competitors and enjoy returns on their investment which include optimizing supply chains, lowered operating costs, and increased revenues.

Reviewing all of the available analytic options can be daunting. However, analytics can be categorized at a high level into three distinct types. No one type of technique is better than another. Actually, they work best when used together. The three types are:

  1. Descriptive Analytics-What has happened
  2. Predictive Analytics-What might happen
  3. Prescriptive Analytics-Recommendations of what to do

Join us as we define the meaning of each of these three types of analytics.

Social Media Marketing

In 2018, artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) began to take off and major catastrophes caused online hesitation such as data breaches, interference in elections, and world leader arguments on Twitter.

From small businesses to major corporations, every business needs to have a social media marketing plan. It’s not necessary to have photography staff or a video production studio in order to keep up with the latest social trends. Keeping your finger on the pulse concerning where your clients are and what they are responding to is necessary.

Brand professionalism, voice, authenticity, and trustworthiness matter more than ever.

There have been more than 3,500,000,000 live videos on Facebook since “going live” was first introduced to the platform. Over 2 billion people have watched live videos. This trend is just getting started.

“Stories” are potentially the next stage of social media as we know it.  Mark Zuckerberg stated in January that views to stories will surpass newsfeed views this year.   FOMO (fear of missing out) is a marketing buzzword that is gaining credibility.   200 million Instagram users use Instagram Stories each month.

Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram have emerged as the top platforms for video marketing, and audiences are responding more than ever. With the launch of long-form, vertical videos on IGTV from Instagram and continued new options for YouTube Creators, video is evolving fast.

 

A World Without Facebook

I read such an interesting article by The Economist the other day.  It was called; “What would happen if Facebook was turned off? Imagine a world without the social network”

30% of the world’s population (2.3billion people) engage with Facebook every month. Economists estimate that it yields trillions of dollars’ worth of value for its users. Facebook is also blamed for all sorts of social horrors: from addiction and bullying to the erosion of fact-based political discourse. This article outlined some new research that suggests that it may be time to consider what life without Facebook would be like.

Hunt Allcott, of New York University, and Luca Braghieri, Sarah Eichmeyer and Matthew Gentzkow, of Stanford University, published results of an experiment where they recruited several thousand Facebook users and sorted them into control and treatment groups. Members of the treatment group were asked to deactivate their Facebook profiles for four weeks in late 2018. The researchers studied what happened.

On average, those that disengaged enjoyed an additional hour of free time. They tended not to use those additional 60 minutes to flock to other websites or social networks.  Instead they spent time with friends and family or watched television. They also consumed less news, and as a result became less aware of events.  In turn they also became less polarised in their views about events than those still on the network. Leaving the social network boosted self-reported happiness and reduced feelings of depression and anxiety.

Read the article in its entirety here.

BEB Wins Communitas Award

We are so excited to announce that Business Extension Bureau has earned our first Communitas Award.  The award represents Excellence in Community Service and Corporate Social Responsibility for our Run for Rama 5K.

Communitas, a Latin word meaning the spirit of Community is an international effort to recognize corporate programs involving volunteerism, philanthropy or ethical, sustainable business practices which benefit communities. Presented by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals (AMCP), this several thousand member organization hosts international competitions for marketing professionals involved with the concept, writing, or design of marketing programs using print, visual or audio.

Communitas nominees are evaluated based on the extent and effectiveness of their program. This is an international competition and previous winners include recognizable companies such as MasterCard, Honeywell, Dow Chemical, Toyota, and Vonage.

The statuette symbolizes peace and harmony and was created by the same firm that crafted the CLIOS, Golden Globes, MTV’s VMA, and Academy of Country Music Awards!

The Run for Rama 5K means a great deal to Business Extension Bureau and our “BEB Family”. We are honored and humbled to be recognized for this event which is so close to our hearts.  (click here to learn more)

Monetizing Car Data

A massive amount of data is being generated as privately owned vehicles continue to use sensors and become increasingly connected to each other and to an external infrastructure. Yet while gathering such data is now routine, actually identifying insights that can be monetized is still in its infancy. McKinsey Automotive & Assembly published an interesting report called Monetizing car data. They analyze consumer perspectives on the prospect of accessing car-generated data, and identify the value and requirements of possible car data-enabled use cases. They predict that the global revenue pool from car data monetization could be as high as $750 billion by 2030. Check out the report here.

A Note From Ron Royall 3-2019

There is no place like Texas in March. The average high is around 72°F and it’s Bluebonnet season. If you’re lucky enough to be here during this time of year, I hope you get the chance to go for a drive to see the beautiful landscape.

It’s also a very busy time of year for us at BEB. March means rodeo, and I have worked as a volunteer for the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo for many years. The organization not only brings some of the best shows and food to Houston, it has contributed more than $75 million in research, grants and scholarships.

Last month, we attended the National Auto Dealers Association convention in California. Later this month, we head for the annual Mailing & Fulfillment Services Association conference in the Woodlands. Also, we will be co-hosting the PIGC annual Graphic Excellence Awards in April. It’s important that we stay active with industry associations which is why we serve on several boards and have staff active on committees and educational programs.

This year, in an effort to better serve you, our operations managers, client services representatives and executive staff are becoming Certified Mail Professionals from the program provided by global think tank and industry giant, Idealliance.

The Certification requires 11 hours of classes covering 28 modules that focus on postal compliance and regulations. This comprehensive training has been challenging and spawned a lot of lively discussions.

To celebrate our 70th year in business we will highlight some of our rich history that will include photos, mail pieces, and newsletters from the past.

Our first features a BEB newsletter that was written and mailed in February 1963. We review the dramatic changes that occurred over that 56-year time span and reflect on several items that haven’t really changed at all! We hope you enjoy.

This edition also includes an article explaining Dynamic Pricing, we define Account Based Marketing, and have a feature about the Russian Post. They have started selling beer at their rural post offices as a way to keep unprofitable branches open and viable.

We included an article called: “Direct Mail Basic Training.” As many of you are working on Easter campaigns, we thought that an outline of the basics may be a handy reference point.
We also review Trigger Direct Mail. This strategy uses data collected online to engage clients offline.

We are participating in the MD Anderson Sprint for Life 5K race again this year. This event raises money for the Blanton-Davis Ovarian Research Foundation.

We got involved to honor our Rama Moore. She worked for my family for over 40-years and lost her battle with ovarian cancer in 2017.  We call the race, The Run for Rama.

Last year we raised over $5,000 and had over 30 people who walked or ran in the race. If you would like to make a donation, or join us for this inspiring event, go to runforrama.com or contact us directly.

Be sure to check in with us through our weekly blog or one of our social media sites as we will continue to keep you abreast of the latest industry trends & postal happenings.

As always, thank you for your business and partnership.
Sincerely,

Ron Royall
President, CEO