As the world's largest supplier of postal, delivery and logistics services, DHL has taken a big hit during the credit crunch, reporting a 12.9 per cent drop in revenues in the first quarter of 2009. Chief executive Frank Appel told the company, "We have to act now secure our profitability and jobs over the long term, there can't be any sacred cows," and in the process instigated a widespread efficiency drive across the global company which was considered by some commentators to be a potential bidder for Royal Mail if the Labour government decided to sell it off.

The bulk of efficiencies came from a re-organisation of its Express corporate division where layers of the business were removed to "streamline"the organisation. "One of the first things we will be looking at is finding solutions for loss-making domestic businesses and sharpening the focus on the Group's profitable international Express business and on further cost reductions," it said at the release of the first quarter results. Efficiency drives were also carried out at its Mail division

DHL didn't ignore the role of technology to improve its business though and entered into a development partnership with database systems giants Oracle. Under the terms of this agreement Oracle will work closely with the DHL Innovation Center for logistics research and development at the DHL corporate HQ in Bonn, Germany.

Together DHL and Oracle will develop ways of automatically collecting information during the logistics process, which will then be fed into the information systems already in place at DHL. This development will then form the basis of new logistics system for notifying customers in the automotive, entertainment electronics and trade sectors.

"Innovations in the field of logistics information concentrate primarily on generating greater transparency and improved management of logistics processes," says Keith Ulrich, head of Technology and Innovation Management at DHL. "