PostNL is determined to maintain its position as the Netherland’s favourite mail and parcel deliverer. The use of data and software is fundamental in that. In a modern engineering culture, multifunctional teams collaborate on a distinctive customer experience. Data Engineer Mick de Rooij explains how PostNL’s ambition is in line with his own development.
I find working as a Data Engineer at PostNL interesting for various reasons: the technical aspects combined with direct feedback on whether something works. The continuous feedback, analyses and adjustments mean that we are not only improving our data but also ourselves.
The work is vital and versatile. As a techie, you get the freedom to do a whole range of things in a genuine engineering culture. That means you can learn a lot. You can then go on to specialise or to develop more broadly.
For example, I have worked on several programming languages, gained vast experience with only AWS clouds, Agile working and with PostNL’s core activities. After starting as a software engineer, at PostNL I moved more to the data side of things: data transformations and building the data infrastructure. In the meantime, I also work with customer focus within a multifunctional environment.
I have been working for PostNL for the past three years now, for the first 22 months I was seconded via the talent development specialist Calco. As an engineer, one of the things I was involved in was the data lake: the environment where all data from marketing, logistics and online, among others, are collected in their original file formats.
Furthermore, I have also started working as Tech Lead for CCB (Dutch for Centraal Consumenten Beeld. Here, consumer data from the data lake is made available, enabling us to create models and new applications.
Thanks to CCP, we get to know our customers better based on anonymised profiles and historic data. We are therefore able to provide better information to post and parcel recipients via all our touchpoints and offer suggestions for optimum delivery via the app, website or chatbot.
When for example, it appears from our data that a certain recipient is often not at home during the delivery, we can ask him or her to set their preferences via the app or website, for example. That makes it simpler for all those involved.
We then put the processed data that comes from the CCP in a relational database, including the correct governance regarding storage, quality and privacy.
We can then unleash new business rules on this data. A next step is to make this information available for optimised customer contact via the touchpoints in question. As PostNL, we can communicate with customers across all channels in a uniform and recognisable manner.
With this further enriched and increasingly specific data, we can continually improve ourselves and our services. Data specialists are thereby at the core of innovative solutions that you see reflected in the streetscape and that have a direct impact on the consumer and the business of our corporate customers. That keeps us economically and socially relevant.
By building clear competency as PostNL, all that data is under our control. Therefore, for an optimal customer experience, we are no longer dependant on large international cloud and software suppliers or other parties.
As a data engineer you are in the middle of this dynamic. After all, you work with data and with software. You have frequent contact with data scientists and other specialists. That multifunctional approach, the impact and the freedom with which we as individuals and as teams fulfil our roles and tasks greatly appeals to me.
We face complex challenges, but we are free to experiment. For example, with new services from AWS, with machine learning or a specific technology. We are not stuck with one data warehouse or one specific solution from one supplier. We develop our own expertise and skill in the field of software and data.
That creates the envisaged engineering culture from which we collaborate on new applications from various competencies. With state-of-the-art technology and within multifunctional teams, in which English is increasingly becoming the working language. Informal, varied, friendly, people-oriented and with a good work-life balance.
As PostNL, we are continuing unabated with the shift toward a tech-driven organisation. In that, people can, just like me, continue to develop and grow with the company.
We pay lots of attention to transferring knowledge by organising hackathons, learning pathways, competence centres and internal communities for data and software. For example, concerning cloud or low-code, data science and data engineering. Besides discussing technical matters, we can also learn from each other and can improve how we work together.
That freedom to initiate, organise and implement the work based on your own insights within a relevant and technology-driven environment is fully in line with my personal motivation.