Ready for Business 2020
The 5th Escher Customer Forum Overview




 “Ready for Business 2020” was the theme for the 5th Escher Customer Forum. Continuing in the tradition of previous years, the forum opened up discussion on changes in consumer behaviour as a result of technological developments. In a departure from past events, there was a focus on the increasing collaboration between the Postal, Government Retail, and Payments sectors, and how this will develop towards 2020. Returning for a second year, the forum’s excellent moderator and President of ‘Creative Solutions Consulting’ Janet Webster oversaw proceedings. After a successful 2016 event, we are excited the host the 6th Forum in the near future.  


Day 1


Opened by Escher CEO Liam Church on the afternoon of the 14th of April, Liam gave a brief overview of the Forum and welcomed the guests and attendees to Dublin. He would then return to give the final presentation at the end of the final day. Janet Webster gave a frank and insightful overview of the challenges and opportunities faced by the Postal Industry in the lead up to 2020.

Session 1 - A Consumer Driven World

Keynote Speaker - Bobby Kerr, Chairman, Post Office Network Business Development Group
Making Sense of Evolving Mobile Payments Landscape’

  • The opportunities available to Posts, with their highly trusted brand and large retail networks, will ensure continued success in the lead up to 2020 and beyond.
  • Retail networks must take risks and conduct experiments with their offerings in order to better understand their customers.
  • Ensuring Customer satisfaction is becoming more complex, but there are more opportunities available to communicate with and please customers.

Dennis Jones, CEO, Judo Payments
Making Sense of Evolving Mobile Payments Landscape’

  • Processing retail payments has not changed much since the invention of the card terminal in the 80s.
  • We are on the cusp of big changes in payments technology thanks to smartphones.
  • Mobile payments mean a better experience for customers and more loyalty.

Martin Sarch, Director of Retail Networks, Canada Post
Canada Post's Retail Network’

  • Canada Post recently launched their first 24hr Post Offices. 
  • Advanced point of service installations such as automated kiosks are key to modernizing the Post Office.
  • Dealer Networks are a profitable core part of the network.

Donal McGuinness, Managing Director, Escher Group Interactive Services
Digital Customer Experience’

  • Mobile technologies afford uncaptured opportunities to retail networks.
  • Consumer trust is all important to capturing opportunities.
  • Develop engagement strategies that are in-sync with how consumers interact with your network.


Day 2

Keynote Speaker David Fitzsimons, CEO, Retail Excellence Ireland
The Changing Retail Landscape - Who is Winning in Retail and Why?’

Win and hold on to customers by providing these 5 benefits:

  • Experiential – provide an experience that can be shared.
  • Open – communicate your heritage & beliefs.
  • Captivating – engage consumers through difference.
  • Clear – provide a clarity of offer.
  • Personal – engage customers through your people.


Session 2 - Building Digital Communities

The second session of the forum focused on the strategic and technical considerations of adopting technology to provide public sector services

Peter Gallagher, Director of Strategy and Business Excellence, An Post
Delivering Services in the Digital Environment

  • Digital services are replacing core Mails business, but creating new profitable opportunities.
  • Collaboration with the Public Sector via e-Government services are a key focus for An Post.
  • Technology partnerships with the private sector enable Governments to provide advanced, proven digital services to citizens.


Colin Bell, Director of Business Growth, North East Local Partnership
‘North East Growth Hub’

  • Local Government can use digital platforms to support SMEs, and thereby job growth.
  • Cooperation between disparate sectors and organizations is essential.
  • Growth Hubs are currently supporting local business with information on funding, recruitment, and business growth. 


Dr. Stephen Brennan, Chief Digital Advisor, Irish Government
‘Drivers, Challenges & Opportunities in Ireland’s Digital Economy’

  • Implementation of virtual government services faces geographic, economic, and demographic challenges.
  • The European Digital Single Market presents impetus and opportunity at all levels of EU government for provision of digital services.
  • Data and business metrics must be at the center of government provided digital services.



Session 3: Business Solutions

The third session examined the technological changes providing business solutions to modern enterprise.

Jeff Taylor, Regional Director UK and Ireland, Honeywell
‘Drivers, Challenges & Opportunities in Ireland’s Digital Economy’

  • Adoption of certain technologies by consumers is moving faster than business models can change.
  • Market inflection in mobile is here and customers are demanding solutions.
  • Getting the technology partnership right is essential to business technology adoption.

Oscar Medina, Chief Strategy & Business Development Officer, Correos Spain
‘Technology in postal innovation. How technology can help the digitalization process… or could run it into a ditch’

  • New technologies have a persistent tendency to topple market incumbents before businesses have a chance to adapt.
  • Different and innovative business models are needed to make the most of new technology.
  • Leaders must build ‘Cultural Enablers’ such as long term focus, greater appetite for risk, and Low cost, fast-fail methodologies.


Pauline Kenna, Director of Digital Services, Escher Group
‘The Omni-Channel Post’

  • Omni-channel is becoming more important to posts as core markets continue to be challenged, and the rise in eCommerce services increases customer’s demand for convenience.
  • Customers demand and expect the convenience of starting a transaction on one device and completing it on any other connected device.
  • Omni-channel technology enables Postal partners and rural Posts to offer cutting-edge services.



Session 4: A Vision for The Future

Paul Donohoe, E-Business Manager, Universal Postal Union
‘Digital transformation – defining the role of the post  in the digital economy’

  • The recent UPU report on ‘Measuring Postal e-Services Development’ shows a marked increase in adoption of advanced digital services in the global postal industry.
  • The new dot-post domain, developed in collaboration between the UPU and Escher Group, includes advanced security, data analytics, and payments features exclusively for postal operators.
  • Digital is rapidly reshaping business models in the Postal Industry. Shared knowledge platforms and private sector partnerships will be key to adapting to the changes.

Nick Lansley, Innovation Insider, Lansley Consultancy
‘Digital transformation – defining the role of the post  in the digital economy’

5 Key Innovation Techniques that can help retailers innovate:

  • Collaborate – Actively use new communication tools to encourage organisational collaboration.
  • Customer Co-Create – Customers should feel part of the innovation journey.
  • Create Experiences – ‘Experience Design’ relies on moving away from pure functionality.
  • Culture – Tolerance of risk and failure can encourage innovation.
  • Community – Third party developers can provide unseen innovations.





Liam Church, CEO, Escher Group
‘Ready for Business 2020’

Finishing off the final session and the forum, Escher Group CEO Liam Church, gave a presentation on the impact of technology on business models in the run up to 2020. The core message was that organisations must be proactive in embracing new technologies in order to avoid disruption to their business.The technologies highlighted by Mr. Church that will effect were 3D Printing, Big Data, Developments in Smart Phone Technologies, Digital Identity, and Mobile Money or Digital Currencies.

Key points:

  • Existing Businesses have to choose between holding onto an existing market by doing the same thing a bit better, or capturing new markets by embracing new technologies and new business models.
  • New technologies that pose a threat to incumbents already exist. The threat will continue to materialize as these technologies become more widely adopted.
  • Technology is increasingly empowering the individual, shifting the traditional power balance between organizations and customers.

Mr. Church finished with an overview of Escher’s proactive response to developing advanced technologies that meet the needs of retail networks, public sector organisations, and the people they serve. Escher’s continued commitment to investing in Research and Development was indicated as a clear sign of this proactive approach.

Throughout the event, Janet Webster provided clarity, summation and additional insight to each of the talks, while also moderating the panel segment after each session. Janet also gave a summary of the two day’s proceedings and marked it as a highly successful event, with some highly engaging presentations, and robust debates.

The event was capped off with some final thoughts from Escher CCO, Fionnuala Higgins, who thanked the staff at the Westbury, Escher Staff, the presenters, and of course Escher’s valued customers who contributed greatly to the Forum.