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Pitney Bowes & MongoDB: Enabling scalable, real-time logistics

INDUSTRY

Travel/Transportation/Logistics
e-commerce and Retail

PRODUCT

MongoDB Atlas

INITIATIVE

Business Agility

CUSTOMER SINCE

2012
INTRODUCTION

Modernizing an iconic brand

Pitney Bowes recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. From its roots as a postage company in the pre-digital era, it has undergone an impressive digital transformation into a software-powered logistics company. With 1.5 million clients around the world, including 90% of the Fortune 500, Pitney Bowes operates one of the largest mail sorting networks in the world, processing 17 billion pieces of mail annually. It also provides mailing and shipping systems, services and solutions to clients in every segment – from individual users to the largest global enterprises.

“We started using MongoDB many years ago as part of a tracking solution for cross-border commerce and saw its benefits. We then did a series of two major acquisitions - and we found MongoDB in both of these organizations, including MongoDB Atlas,” explained James Fairweather, Chief Innovation Officer at Pitney Bowes. “MongoDB enables a centralized view of our freight across facilities and provides access to this data in real-time with our automation hardware. Our sorting and scan/scale hardware integrates into this cache for real-time decisions. It is also used as a backbone for our tracking subsystem that relays data back to consumers on parcel status.” Using the cloud has enabled the company to take advantage of built-in resiliency and more elastic scalability. By deploying across availability zones and regions, it can meet five nines uptime for its clients and scale up and down according to demand.

Pitney Bowes Chief Innovation Officer James Fairweather leads Pitney Bowes’s strategic digital transformation and technology initiatives.

THE CHALLENGE

Not a single minute of downtime

The company has been on a strategic, cloud-driven approach to its technology environment to create greater economies of scale and experience in its teams. Having a managed cloud database service that works across multiple cloud environments, with multi-cloud distribution, data security and compliance, built-in reliability and resilience, and high performance was a critical requirement. Pitney Bowes was also looking for a database that could affordably scale with demand while reducing operational overhead.

Running MongoDB Atlas on AWS addressed these areas while enabling Pitney Bowes to maintain the momentum already present across the business.

THE SOLUTION

At the heart of the business

“MongoDB Atlas is easy to provision and connect to. We don’t have to think about complex networking and can keep our traffic on the private side of our VPC,” said Fairweather. “It requires little attention to operate, tune, and support. The backup and disaster recovery requirements of our production systems are also effortlessly addressed with Atlas, and the reduced administrative hours have greatly reduced our total cost of ownership over other database solutions.”

Upgrades to new versions of MongoDB Atlas are entirely non-disruptive, without complex planning, offline windows, or the increased human effort other types of databases require. A simple click and often, in as little as 15 minutes, Pitney Bowes is fully running on a new version cluster-wide without a single minute of downtime.

MongoDB has become the backbone of Pitney Bowes’ ecommerce logistics business. It is also becoming a platform for other use cases, such as manifesting data stores and data retrieval for physical processing centers. It helps the company strike the right balance between relational stores and document-oriented storage for optimal performance.

“MongoDB as a company is very humble and takes our feedback seriously while continuously trying to improve,” continued Fairweather. “That’s a critical success factor and an attitude full of accountability and ownership.”

“MongoDB as a company is very humble and takes our feedback seriously while continuously trying to improve. That’s a critical success factor and an attitude full of accountability and ownership.”

James Fairweather, Chief Innovation Officer, Pitney Bowes

THE RESULTS

Successfully scaling a $1 billion-plus
e-commerce business

MongoDB plays an integral role in maintaining data independence and as an enabler of siting application processing close to data, stored in any cloud in the future. Moreover, Pitney Bowes is taking advantage of the reduced cost of ownership to invest in more strategic areas. The next steps in its Edge Computing strategy are looking to implement more automation within its operating centers including evaluating using MongoDB Realm and Realm Sync to assist with inbound and outbound parcel shipping use cases.

Building an app for front-line workers on Realm would allow them to scan a package that automatically syncs the data back to MongoDB Atlas providing consistent reporting and up-to-date logistics throughout the shipping journey. “The more we can buy platforms as a service, where the complexity of administration is covered by someone else’s central expertise, the more we can focus on business value,” concluded Fairweather. “We believe in economies of scale and experience and well-built and managed technology services are part of that economy.”

“MongoDB Atlas is easy to provision and connect, and requires little attention to operate, tune and support. Atlas and the reduced administrative hours have greatly reduced our total cost of ownership over other database solutions.”

James Fairweather, Chief Innovation Officer, Pitney Bowes

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