In the past twenty years, first class mail volume has declined by 61%, and in the past ten years, all mail volume has declined by 27%. This decline can be attributed to a number of factors – the internet revolution and proliferation of email, the presence of alternative delivery services such as FedEx or UPS, and the Amazon model of self-distributed products. During this same period, the rise of digital operating solutions has also help the Postal Service become more operationally efficient, and better positioned to provide additional services to customers.
In response to declining volumes and the availability of digital operating solutions, the US Postal Service has introduced a number of automated postal solutions. Mail tracking, machine sorting, and intelligent bar codes all helped the mail system be more effective and efficient. In fact, the USPS now processes 91% of mail through automation.
In addition to leveraging digital advancements to improve operations, the post office has also made changes to their business model to improve customer relationships. USPS been developing a program known as Informed Delivery, which uses the automated photographs the postal service takes of every piece of mail to provide previews of mail in transit via mobile app. This is expected to be available for every zip code across the county by 2017, and has already been successfully tested in NYC. Additionally, through a service known as Informed Visibility, the Postal Service is trying to better partner with commercial customers to help personalize and coordinate omni-channel marketing campaigns by helping firms better target their print mail campaigns. 
The Postal Service’s current strategy for taking advantage of digital innovation focuses on four key areas – leveraging the Internet of Postal things to better manage their vast operations, enhancing core services such as advancing mailbox technology to adapt to temperature sensitive shipments, improving revenue-generating digital services such as Electronic PostMark, and partnering with external innovators to enhance progress in postal innovation.  Despite this progress, the US Postal Service is well behind global leaders when it comes to postal innovation.
Given the uniqueness of the nationwide touch points the USPS network has, it’s difficult to compare much of its digital progress to the alternative delivery providers here in the US. The better comparisons are with the innovative leaders in postal delivery. In reviewing much of the advances other countries have made, I believe there are a few areas the USPS should focus on in the next few years.
Gather, connect, and use data: USPS has a tremendous network of trucks and postmen on the road. If it were to install sensors on the vehicles to track data on traffic and road conditions, the postmen could optimize routes and provide customers with minute-by-minute tracking of package progress. 
Customer Control: MyUSPS is an online and mobile platform which allows customers to see limited tracking data and previews of mail in transit for some markets, but customers have no opportunity to control delivery times. If customers could be fully connected to the USPS network, they could adjust the time and delivery locations as needed and communicate with carriers directly. 
Modernizing addresses: One of the huge digital advantages the USPS could offer is to bridge an individual’s email with their physical address, which could enable mail campaigns to cross between digital and print channels, while also protecting people’s identity, and preventing mail loss due to change of address
Digital to Print Marketing: Unaddressed mail campaigns are a significant revenue generator for USPS, though it currently sources these through third parties. If the Postal Service could provide an online interface to digitally develop, then automatically print and sort unaddressed mail campaigns it could provide value and collect revenue serving small to large firm marketing campaigns. 
I have been impressed with the progress the US Postal Service has made in adopting digital advancements, but I recognize it still has a significant opportunity for further digitization.
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 “A Decade Of Facts And Figures – Postal Facts”. About.usps.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 17 Nov. 2016.
 McKinsey & Company (2010) USPS Future Business Model. New York (15 November).
 Nixon, Ron. “Postal Service Confirms Photographing All U.S. Mail”. Nytimes.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 17 Nov. 2016.
 “U.S. Postmaster General Unveils Digital Strategy To Support Mailing Industry At National Postal Forum”. About.usps.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 17 Nov. 2016.
 Office of the Inspector General, United States Postal Service,. Riding The Waves Of Postal Digital Innovation. 2016. Web. 17 Nov. 2016. RARC Report.
 OIG, eMailbox and eLockbox: Opportunities for the Postal Service, November 14, 2011, https://www.uspsoig.gov/sites/ default/files/document-library-files/2015/rarc-wp-12-003_0.pdf.