• on Jul 27th, 2015 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 4 comments

    People aren’t dying like they used to. Thanks to medical advances and better lifestyle choices, Americans are living a lot longer. In fact, those who are 65 or older account for 14.1 percent of the U.S. population, or about 45 million people — the highest percentage ever, according to the Administration on Aging. By 2020, seniors will account for 16.1 percent.

    As the number of older Americans increases, so do their needs. Not all of those needs are being met. But the U.S. Postal Service could change that.

    Budget constraints in recent years have forced many providers of elderly wellness services – anything promoting physical, emotional, or even financial health – to shutter physical locations and move online. But, according to the National Council on Aging, 41 percent of older Americans do not use the Internet at all, meaning more than 18 million seniors might be cut off from programs they need most.

    With its vast network of post offices and letter carriers, isn’t the Postal Service well-positioned to partner with a wide range of wellness service providers who want to reach seniors on the other side of the digital divide?

    We hosted a forum with wellness professionals and postal employee representatives who essentially explored that question and concluded that, yes, there are numerous opportunities for mutually beneficial collaborations. We provide details of the discussion in our new paper, The Postal Service's Role in Delivering Wellness Services and Supplies.

    Among the possibilities:

    • Delivering groceries to homebound people, including those without Internet access
    • Letter carriers alerting a social services organization when a senior along their route might need help
    • Wellness organizations offering services, such as helping people manage their social security accounts, through unused postal clerk windows
    • Mobile health units stationed in Post Office parking lots

    Each opportunity would allow wellness providers to connect with more elderly individuals, and also help the Postal Service realize new revenue through fee-sharing or rental income while fostering goodwill with individuals and communities throughout the nation.

    Tell us your thoughts: What kind of wellness services would you like to see involving the Postal Service? Which of those services do you think are the most important?

  • on Apr 21st, 2014 in Products & Services | 0 comments

    Social media isn’t just for fun any more. Sure, millions of people are still tweeting, posting, pinning, and sharing things with each other online by the nanosecond. But 70 percent of businesses and organizations worldwide, including the U.S. Postal Service, also have active Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social media accounts.

    Why? Because they recognize that social media is an important channel of business communication, particularly in light of research from management consultants McKinsey & Company estimating there is between $900 billion and $1.3 trillion in annual value to the economy that could be unlocked by social media technologies. So how is the Postal Service using social media? Last summer we released a Management Advisory noting that the agency is present on no less than 18 social media sites. And now our new white paper – Like, Share, Tweet: Social Media and the Postal Service  – identifies multiple ways the Postal Service could not only improve its current social media activities, but also expand upon them to develop new products and services, such as:

    • Crowdshipping
    • Identification services
    • Hybrid products bridging physical and digital communications
    • Social e-commerce services

    Social e-commerce services, for example, could facilitate the use of social platforms as storefronts, similar to online shops on Etsy or Amazon. The Postal Service could manage those storefronts’ back-end operations by providing services such as micro-warehousing, fulfillment, and delivery.

    The paper ultimately makes the case that an overall stronger and more robust social media strategy could help the Postal Service remain competitive in the digital age by better responding to changing communication needs, improving the customer experience, creating value through social commerce, and cutting costs.

    Tell us what you think:

    • How could the Postal Service improve its social media activity?
    • How might your view of the Postal Service be affected by better social media activity?
    • Do you prefer businesses that engage customers via social media? 
  • on Jan 13th, 2014 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 4 comments

    What if the U.S. Postal Service tapped the vast array of available digital information technologies to enhance sales, operations, and new business development? The possibilities, it would seem, while not endless, are fairly extensive.

    That’s the conclusion of a just-released white paper from the Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG), which collaborated with IBM to take a high-level view of digital information gathering to see where the postal industry might benefit. The white paper, Enriching Postal Information: Applications for Tomorrow’s Technologies, identifies those opportunities most relevant to the postal industry. We found more than 50 potential postal applications where gathering digital information could enhance the Postal Service’s sales, operations, and new product development, as well as improve its internal safety and security controls. Such items include banking services, traffic information, and assistance to elderly citizens.

    A few highlights from the paper:

    • Cutting-edge organizations see digital information technology only as a means to satisfy market demands and control costs. Such organizations are focusing on mobile handhelds, barcodes, and Radio Frequency Identification applications to collect data about their customers and operations. Many are consistently researching and investing in a wide variety of information gathering technologies. For example, UPS invests more than $1 billion annually to design customer-centric applications, customized scanning tools, and advanced communication devices, as well as, to increase internal efficiencies.
    • The Postal Service is also exploring the potential of mobile devices but on a much smaller scale than UPS. For example, the Postal Service recently gave cell phones capable of texting and gathering real-time GPS data to about 95 percent of its street letter carriers. The information being collected should improve delivery efficiencies via better route designs, day-to-day adjustments, and monitoring delivery times. The Postal Service is planning to deploy 75,000 full-service digital mobile carrier devices by the summer of 2014.

    So what information would you like the Postal Service to gather for you? How would you put it to use? Are there any areas of information technology that concern you? 

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