USPS Innovation: A Closed-Door Affair

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of attending National Postal Customer Council Day at Gotham Hall in NYC.  If USPS matters are important to your business, this is a must-attend annual event.

Similar to last year’s simulcast, this year’s presentation included USPS top sales and marketing brass: Steve Kearney, Susan Plonkey, Pat Donahoe, and Postmaster General Jack Potter.  You can view the video presentation here.  Not surprisingly, the focus of the presentation was on the continual decline in mail volume and what the USPS is doing to address this problem.  The keyword repeated over and over was “innovation.”  I heard lots of talk of new rate categories, summer sales, and the Intelligent Mail Barcode.

Why is the USPS taking on all of the “Innovation” work themselves?  When are they going to realize that declining mail volume is not their problem alone?

The USPS needs to figure out how to invite their biggest clients and the vendors serving those clients to join the party.  I can tell you from extensive experience that developing, testing, and launching new mail products, while following the USPS playbook, is nothing short of an epic challenge.

The USPS could take some guidance from the technology world and embrace an open-source mentality.  The technology sector learned a dozen years ago that if you hold on to your trade secrets and defend your source code by building a brick wall around it, the only thing you will accomplish is making sure no one advances and broadens what you have created.

The folks at the USPS need to break down the brick walls and allow customers and vendors in to develop new products and services.  Stop creating complicated rules and regulations that keep us at arm’s length.  Allow us access so that we can develop products that grow the business, creating win-win business opportunities for the USPS, their customers, and the vendors who serve those customers.

Bob Makofsky at bmakofsky@conformer.com

About Bob Makofsky

Bob runs operations and marketing and is Conformer’s resident postal expert. Bob has over a dozen years of entrepreneurial experience in the technology industry, in both marketing and business development roles ranging from negotiating $100 million-plus contracts nationally and abroad to developing marketing campaigns. He is regularly featured in print and packaging trade magazines on innovation. Bob is a competitive cyclist and longtime member of the Century Road Club Association in Central Park, competing in the Empire State Games (2007, 2008). Bob graduated from the University of Denver.
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