• on Sep 29th, 2014 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 3 comments

    Tea leaves, crystal balls, palm readings: There are lots of ways to try to predict the future . . . and most of them are useless. Still, careful examination of measurable indicators — and a little imagination — can yield some clues as to what may lie ahead. That’s good news for the U.S. Postal Service, because if there’s anything that faces an uncertain future right now, it’s the nearly 240-year-old institution that delivers your mail every day.

    To get a sense of what America’s postal needs might be a decade from now and how the Postal Service could fulfill them, we recently undertook a study that included (a) researching projections for more than 80 social, technological, and industrial trends, (b) reviewing hundreds of articles, and (c) interviewing experts.

    Some indicators are fairly certain. The ongoing demographic rise of the Millennial generation – now larger than Baby Boomers – means that the wants and needs of those born largely after 1980 will profoundly affect the economy as previous generations retire. Others are less certain, such as how much of a role 3D printing will play and to what extent it could affect the package-shipping industry.

    We then used scenario planning, a common methodology for understanding and exploring possible futures by designing and evaluating hypothetical situations based on different combinations of trends. Result: Four possible ways the world could look in 10 years, and ways the Postal Service could serve its customers in each scenario. It’s all detailed in our newly released white paper, The Postal Customers of the Future.

    Can you predict how you will use the mail 10 years from now? Could you imagine the Postal Service saving you time and money by helping you share, say, power tools with people in your city? Would you pop into a Post Office to check out a new product a local entrepreneur 3D-printed there?

  • on Sep 8th, 2014 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 44 comments

    You can’t cut your way to prosperity. That seems to be the message coming out of many of the comments we received on our recent blog about the next phase of network consolidation. So, if cutting alone isn’t the answer, what are your ideas for revenue growth?

    Five years ago, we ran a blog post asking stakeholders for their best brainstorming ideas to help the U.S. Postal Service improve its net income. Interestingly, the suggestions seemed split about evenly between cutting costs and generating revenue. So, this time, we want to ask just about revenue-generation ideas. Of course, we welcome any thoughts you have on ensuring a viable Postal Service. That’s what this forum for stakeholder feedback is all about. So this week we ask you to consider the following:

    • What is the number one idea you have to raise Postal Service revenue?

    Share your ideas in the comment section. If you respond to someone else’s idea, please remember to keep it civil. Let’s get a dialogue started. 

  • on Aug 11th, 2014 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 4 comments

    Say you’re about to drive off for vacation in less than 48 hours, but you suddenly realize your license has expired. The nearest DMV office is 15 miles away, the waiting line probably just as long, and there’s just too much else to do to get ready. But imagine now that you can go to your local Post Office, which can handle the renewal right there and then.

    That’s just one of the many possibilities discussed at a roundtable we recently co-organized with the Postal Innovation Platform. The topic: opportunities for postal operators everywhere to simultaneously expand business while partnering with their respective governmental agencies to better serve the public. Experts from academia, government, and the private sector looked at how postal operators could leverage their assets and capabilities to successfully meet the changing needs of government. Our newest white paper recaps in detail the main points and highlights of the roundtable.

    Perhaps the most significant point raised: Posts in every country have features and resources that give them competitive advantages over others in the e-government space. For instance, they have unrivaled networks of post offices and delivery services, which could help bring government services closer to remote areas, where Internet access is minimal or nonexistent. Given their traditional role as trusted intermediaries, posts can also offer services that require privacy and security: payments, document certification and notarization, management of electronic health records, and voting by mail, among others.

    Several postal operators already partner with government in some of these ways. The U.S. Postal Service, for example, has long helped the U.S. State Department process passport applications, and Poste Italiane issues notices of traffic violations and collects payments. But tell us: What other government services would you like the Postal Service to be able to offer? Driver license renewal? Marriage licenses? Any of the services listed above? Something else?