Over the past decade, technological innovation advanced at an increasingly fast pace, creating opportunities and disruptions in almost every industry; the postal industry is no exception.
According to a report from the agency Office of Inspector General (OIG), the U.S. Postal Service has seen growth in many new technologies that have helped enhance the value of mail and packages for senders and recipients. In the last ten years, the U.S. Postal Service has focused its technology development efforts on mail innovations and data analytics; and postal experts agreed that advancements in these areas would further advance transformation in the postal industry.
Since 2011, the IG has produced more than 30 white papers on emerging technologies to analyze their potential impact and application for the postal service. With a primary focus on mail innovations and data analytics.
According to the report, technological innovation holds potential opportunities, such as increasing customer value, creating cost efficiencies, and generating new revenue for nearly all aspects of the Postal Service’s operations.
“[This report] revisits some of the technological developments discussed in our previous work to assess which remain relevant today, where the Postal Service has implemented or piloted new technology, and which are important for the Postal Service to consider for implementation in the future,” the report stated.
OIG found that mail innovations have been central to the Postal Service’s efforts allowing users to preview mail, make decisions on delivery options and QR codes, which businesses, political campaigns, and others use as part of marketing efforts.
But mail innovations primarily focus on attracting new postal customers; data analytics technology is used to improve and optimize Postal Service operations. Yet, for the Postal Service putting the large quantities of data generated to good use to improve processes and customer experience has been challenging.
“Changing customer expectations and increased competition for last-mile delivery have resulted in a demand for innovative solutions. Data-driven advanced algorithms and analytics can play a critical role in [designing] these new, last-mile solutions. Postal infrastructure is, and will continue to be, supported and enhanced [using] big data across the supply chain,” the report said.
Additionally, the Postal Service’s recently released the “Delivering for America: Our Vision and Ten-Year Plan to Achieve Financial Sustainability and Service Excellence” indicates that technologies will continue to be a priority going into the future.
The 10-year plan prioritizes the development of digital platforms, big data analytics, and AI and machine learning. The report stated that making effective use of new and emerging technologies and successfully addressing the innovation challenges will enable the Postal Service to become more efficient and exceed customer expectations.