January 13, 2014 (RARC-WP-14-005)

To understand how the Postal Service might better adapt to increasing market demands for information in the Digital Age, the Postal Service Office of Inspector General worked with IBM to take a high level view of a variety of information-gathering technologies, highlighting those most relevant to the postal industry.

We found industry leaders are technology neutral; in other words, they:

  •  Pursue technology only as the means to ultimately meet customer needs;
  • Consistently research and invest in data gathering technologies, such as mobile handhelds, barcodes, or Radio Frequency Identification tags;
  • Use data-gathering technologies to develop customer-centric applications that better meet today’s market needs; and
  •  Deploy, without bias, various technologies, along with their related data gathering and processing capabilities, to continuously improve internal efficiencies.

Our paper identifies more than 50 potential postal applications that could enhance sales, transportation, delivery, and customer service as well as support public safety and internal postal security. The paper highlights mobile post offices as well as citizen-government services. This could widely increase the public’s ease-of-access to both.

Though the Postal Service still has a critical role in delivering physical mail, information about the mail – particularly customer-centric information – is now often as important as the mailpiece itself. We suggest the Postal Service examine customer-centric applications that leverage its core competencies and strengths, especially its carrier network, vehicle fleet, and Post Office network.