The U.S. Postal Service ended the 2013 fiscal year with a net loss of $5 billion. This marks the 7th consecutive year in which the Postal Service finished in the red, highlighting the need to continue to capitalize on growth opportunities, reduce costs, and enact comprehensive legislation to provide a long-term solution to the agency’s financial challenges.
The USPS’ new CIO, James Cochrane, is up for the challenge. Appointed to the position in October 2013, Cochrane has climbed the ladder during his 40-year tenure, starting his USPS career as a postal clerk. In a recent Computerworld article, Cindy Waxer outlines the forthcoming technological advances that Cochrane intends to implement. A few of them are summarized as follows:
- USPS mail tracking system will be redesigned by encoding as much information as possible on its letter and parcel bar codes. Central to this initiative is the agency’s Intelligent Mail bar code (IMB) system, which uses Intelligent Mail scanning devices and more than 8,500 pieces of automated process and sorting equipment to scan bar codes for information that is then transmitted to a central database. The IMB will enable the agency to manage cycle times better, predict mail volume, and drive efficiencies across the country’s postal processing facilities.
- The USPS is also using data to predict the future of mail delivery through the use of predictive analytics tools and complex algorithms. “I can sit here in Washington, D.C., and look at cycle times in a plant anywhere in the country and get a sense of how fluid their processing environment is and how predictable their service is going to be,” says Cochrane.
- Data analytics is also helping the USPS with dynamic routing — the use of sophisticated computer models and data to map out the most efficient and cost-effective mail delivery routes. In November 2013, Amazon inked a deal with the USPS to deliver packages on Sundays in select cities. The partnership created a prime opportunity for the Postal Service to establish a stronger foothold in the burgeoning package-delivery market, and its package revenue increased 8% to $12.5 billion from 2012 to 2013.
For the expanded list of technological changes at the USPS, read the full Computerworld article.
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