Traditional Embracing Digital

According to a report released in May, “the convergence between the increasing amount of actionable data, the ubiquity of network connectivity to integrate and share this data, and the rapid development of analytics may open up a new world of opportunities for postal operators — the “Internet of Postal Things.” USPS issued a solicitation for a company that will help make it’s “Internet of Postal Things” project a reality and leverage the data it produces as well as imagine new ways to build innovative services.

The USPS currently collects a plethora of information from their rich physical networks, they are looking to exponentially expand the capability of postal operators.

The plan is to equip the postal network with low cost sensors. The data, in turn, would help the postal service improve operational performance, customer service, created new products and services, and support more efficient decision making processes. The expectations don’t stop here: the “internet of postal things” experts expect a positive spillover effect on other non-postal sectors, as the information could be useful to others. Better late than never, the Postal service is joining the big data movement.

Big Data by Mail

So, you may ask, what can we expect? Consider simply affixing sensors to postal trucks: one could reduce fleet maintenance costs, optimize routes, report dead spots in mobile and wireless coverage or monitor environmental condition. The postal service’s regular and thorough routes could provide information that would be valuable to municipalities. The information could also be useful to retailers in selecting new sites. An online geomarketing tool, like Germany’s Geovista, could show sociodemographic and household data, as well as consumption patterns. The marketers could then select profitable areas for their new stores.

A whole new world

This innovation will provide access to invaluable information that other companies can then utilize. We are entering an age of big data; information is collected everyday and used to predict things as complicated as epidemics and as simple as climate. It is important to note that we are only at the crawling stage of a massive change. The available tools for analyzing data are still crude, and there are few experts.

As technologies evolve and computers become more powerful and connected, we will be better able to analyze data and extract meaning, which we can then turn into digital strategies.

Highly Personalized Mail

Evan Baehr and Will Davis started Outbox to help consumers manage their mail. The concept is simple: mail is digitized and the customer can digitally mark which mail he or she would like to receive, which not to open and which to trash. Individuals can get rid of junk mail, keep important mail organized without needing to physically go to their mailbox. In theory, outbox could save the Post Office money, however when the two presented their project to USPS, it was dismissed. This dismissal, though showing a lack of willingness for change, also shows a support of mail marketing. In a world in which consumers have more choice, it seems mailed marketing is here to stay. If we take into account the big data provided by the USPS as well as the permanence of mail marketing, we have a recipe for success. Strategically formulating a business planbenchmarking digital best practices, and directly targeting customers by mail will be more effective through the influx of customer data available. Optimizing every stage of the process will streamline deliveries and will enhance customer satisfaction. We also recommend USPS pursue a strong mobile strategy to allow for transparency of transit information.