• on Apr 9th, 2012 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 8 comments
    A recent post on the blog Dead Tree Edition made an interesting observation: The once-exploding U.S. e-book sales have slowed considerably, according to R. R. Bowker, a marketing research firm targeting publishers, booksellers, and librarians. How can that be? Aren’t we on a preordained path to a digital world? As it turns out, early buyers of tablet computers and e-readers were initially skewed toward people who read a lot. These early adopters bought more books than recent buyers because e-books generally cost less than their physical equivalents. Today, some market segments, such as textbooks, seem destined for digital dominance, while others, like children’s books have barely dented the e-book market. The number of book shipments by mail is small compared to the shipment numbers of other postal products. However, if e-book sales are slowing down, this may mean a slowing of the diversion of book mail to digital download. Could the same trend happen with much larger volume postal products? Will the adoption of electronic bill payments, electronic bills and statements, or, even electronic correspondence start slowing down? The answers could make a huge difference in the outlook for the Postal Service. What do you think?
  • on Jan 23rd, 2012 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 7 comments

    A leading book on business strategy and innovation claims, “through innovation, business organizations can change the world.”

    A 2010 study on global postal innovation by Capgemini states “there is a general tendency among all postal operators to diversify by investments outside their core business (mail, parcel),” especially into the logistics and financial services areas. Among European operators, Poste Italiane, Swiss Post, Deutsche Post DHL (Germany), and Austrian Post, in particular, have increased their share of non-core business.

    Poste Italiane introduced the Postepay prepaid card at the end of 2003. Over 5.6 million customers in Italy have used this reloadable card, which allows them to make purchases and withdraw cash from ATMs. There is a one-time fee of €5 ($6.44) for opening the account and adding funds to the card or withdrawing money costs €1 ($1.29) at an Italian Poste.

    A number of other posts have made their own innovative marks. Canada Post in partnership with BackCheck, now offers ID verification at their locations. Post Denmark, working with financial partners, signed almost 3.5 million users for its eBoks digital mail service, almost 2/3 of the population. Austrian Post operates a banking network called PSK BANK, which has trained financial advisors at every postal branch and offers services including:

    • Free bank accounts.
    • High-yield insurance products such as retirement planning products.
    • Eastern European stocks.

    Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

    This blog is hosted by the Information Systems directorate.
  • on Jan 9th, 2012 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 6 comments

    Traditional addressing systems rely on subjective identifiers like street names and business or residence numbers. These addressing systems have generally offered the U.S. and many foreign postal services an effective means to identify pickup and delivery locations. However, recent technological innovations related to digital mapping have led some to consider the adoption of an addressing system based on geocodes.

    Unlike traditional postal codes, such as a ZIP code, a geocode is not a subjective descriptor, but a series of letters and/or numbers based on the physical location, or latitude and longitude coordinates, of a business, residence, or even point of interest. For example, under a geocode system, location of the USPS OIG headquarters may be identified by a single number such as 35602.1092.4393 which contains information about the latitude (38° 53' 45.996") and longitude (-77° 4' 14.6784“) of the building.

    Developing a geocode addressing system could have many benefits. Notably, it could provide every location in the world an internationally unique and permanent “address”. Such a system has important economic implications. Beyond supplying a physical address to residents and businesses located in countries without addressing systems, a common global standard could greatly facilitate international communications and transactions.

    This is particularly true as e-Commerce continues to grow across borders and the need for an addressing system that transcends national mailing standards and cultural and language barriers becomes more apparent. A geocode system may also complement the traditional street address system by providing more precise location information in cases where the location to which a package is to be delivered does not have a unique address, such as a specific room or cubicle.

    What do you think? Would geocoding improve the current address system?

    This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Blog Team.

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