Pitney Bowes: Transforming a Business and an Industry with APIs

About Pitney Bowes

Pitney Bowes is a global technology company that enables its clients, including 90 percent of the Fortune 500, more than 200 retailers, and 1.5 million small businesses, to succeed in the physical and digital worlds of commerce.

Industries: Technology
Location: United States

By creating a common way to integrate applications into its back office, Pitney Bowes reduced the time to build new applications from 18 months to 4 months.

Google Cloud Platform Results

  • Delivers new, data-powered digital solutions to customers
  • Enables partners and internal developers to build new products quickly
  • Internal processes digitized
  • Capabilities offered via the cloud

Enables 200+ retailers and 1.5M small businesses

Pitney Bowes has been powering the transactions that drive commerce since 1920, when Arthur Pitney and Walter Bowes introduced the company’s first postage meter.

The Stamford, Connecticut based company is pursuing a company-wide transformation focused on using modern technology to deliver a broad set of digital ecommerce capabilities, enable extensive partnerships, and optimize its own operations.

Pitney Bowes has long prided itself on its five core capabilities that it offered to clients: mailing and shipping, customer information management, customer engagement, location intelligence, and global ecommerce. Recognizing the need to accelerate the way it develops new products and interacts with customers, employees, and partners, the company turned to APIs.

Its location intelligence data was powerful, for example, but to take advantage of it, Pitney Bowes customers typically had to install software in their own datacenters. Similarly, when building new internal applications, connecting to backend systems involved drawn-out, repetitive integration processes.

“By building a common way to integrate applications into our back office, we’ve dramatically accelerated the speed to market and lowered the investment per product.”

James Fairweather, Director of Technology Strategy and Enterprise Architecture, Pitney Bowes

The company turned to APIs and Apigee Edge to:

  • deliver new, data-powered digital solutions to customers
  • enable partners and internal developers to build new products quickly
  • digitize internal processes
  • offer its capabilities via the cloud

“By building a common way to integrate applications into our back office, we’ve dramatically accelerated the speed to market and lowered the investment per product,” says James Fairweather, Pitney Bowes’ director of technology strategy and enterprise architecture. “We had programs that were taking 18 months to get to market. It’s 4 or 5 months now.”

“We’re taking internal technology and enabling it to participate in very modern, new external applications. We have old Tandem COBOL systems. Quite honestly, they’re part of new modern applications and they’re transformed into modern APIs by what Apigee provides. That speaks directly to our customer experience,” adds Fairweather. “There’s no greater value.”

Apigee is now the foundation for the Pitney Bowes Commerce Cloud, the comprehensive set of the company’s differentiating capabilities, delivered as a variety of services, analytics, and APIs that provide an array of cloud-based commerce solutions.

“We’ve built a robust go-to-market strategy for the APIs. It’s a whole new kind of business for Pitney, based on exposing APIs directly to customers for their consumption.”

James Fairweather, Director of Technology Strategy and Enterprise Architecture, Pitney Bowes

Monetization

While Pitney Bowes began using the Apigee API platform for internal development, it didn’t take long to recognize the potential of opening its APIs to partners and third-party developers. The company’s wealth of geodata, for example, had the potential to help others build their own powerful solutions.

Among a variety of other powerful services, Pitney Bowes also possessed powerful U.S. Postal Service shipping information—address verification and label preparation and printing, for example—that could be worked, via APIs, into customers’ operational flows.

Pitney Bowes employed Apigee API monetization features to package these APIs into products.

“The rich functionality in the monetization module enabled us to provide the pricing flexibility our clients were seeking and integrate that into our back office for the necessary revenue recognition,” Fairweather says. “We’ve built a robust go-to-market strategy for the APIs. It’s a whole new kind of business for Pitney, based on exposing APIs directly to customers for their consumption.”

Shared flows

To speed up and improve the efficiency of its API design process, Pitney Bowes employed shared flows, a feature of the Apigee API platform that employs API proxy templates and common design patterns to build policy sequences that can be reused and shared across API proxies. Another tool, flow hooks, works in conjunction to enforce the shared flows to all the API proxies in a particular environment.

“By using this patterning approach, we created a highly maintainable set of APIs, where a large portion of the code in the proxy is the same,” Fairweather says. “We can do the maintenance of a lot of endpoints all in one place. It’s a very powerful technique for us—we’ve seen tremendous efficiency from it.”

The Pitney Bowes API initiative has benefited its clients in several ways. The company can deliver more powerful and valuable solutions by combining technologies and capabilities; its Commerce Cloud enables customers to more easily consume technology and products; and partners can onboard quickly and can more easily integrate Pitney Bowes products and technologies into their own products and workflows.

About Pitney Bowes

Pitney Bowes is a global technology company that enables its clients, including 90 percent of the Fortune 500, more than 200 retailers, and 1.5 million small businesses, to succeed in the physical and digital worlds of commerce.

Industries: Technology
Location: United States
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