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Why the USPS Is Taking Cues from Silicon Valley

Digital technology is key to the future of USPS.

The United States Postal Service is facing a serious challenge: As a government agency not directly funded by tax dollars, the USPS is tasked with reinventing a centuries-old business model. Written correspondence has all but been replaced by e-mail, leaving the Postal Service with a foundation of outdated technology.

Paul Vogel, president of digital solutions for the agency, is working hard to bring the Postal Service back to the forefront of communication in the United States. He considers the USPS to be in the “message business,” a timeless concept that utilizes myriad platforms to communicate:

Vogel models his effort on Silicon Valley tech startups. He describes his Washington office – in US Postal Service headquarters – as an open pit, which he compares to a technology lab at your average San Jose start-up. He has 15 developers, all working on Apple and Android applications, and various consultants streaming in and out. Most are contractors. His office has a computer – just one – but he rarely uses it: he’s addicted to his BlackBerry. “If it can’t be done on mobile, it’s probably not worth doing,” he says.

Right now, the postal service’s biggest tech effort is the creation of MyPost, a digital platform that it is working on alongside UPS. MyPost would be a kind of personalized website that would allow people to log in and see all the packages that are coming to them, as well as all the packages they’ve already received, in one digital place.

Read How the US Postal Service Is Going Digital on PSFK.

Many have speculated that the USPS could be a player in the e-mail market. VA Shiva Ayyadurai, credited with inventing e-mail in 1978, believes that they are well positioned to deliver e-mail services to companies large and small:

Is it too late for the USPS to capitalize on email now? Regardless of whether the USPS stays public or is completely privatized, Ayyadurai believes it can save itself by creating and selling, not just using, digital communications technology. He says, "The U.S. Postal Service could offer an email management service to millions of businesses overnight, generating enough revenue to cover costs and make profit without layoffs. Global 2,000 companies and small to medium enterprises alike sorely need email management, which is a massive opportunity. They could also lead the charge in email validation and other solutions for a host of problems faced by email marketers."

Read Can Technology Save The U.S. Postal Service? on Fast Company.

How do you think the Postal Service can leverage technology to be successful in the future? Let us know in the Comments section.

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Jan 24 2013 Spice IT

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