Understanding Postal: USPS Transitions to Digital Agency in Hopes to Survive
Vogel also said that the feedback the USPS received, particularly that its first few digital initiatives must be successful, points to a need to change the agency's culture. Noting that 60 percent of digital activities fail — e.g., some apps are more popular than others, some apps are given away free because of their lack of commercial value — Vogel said that digital represents somewhat of a "culture conflict" at USPS. He said the Postal Service tends to engage in big activities, "but digital is about doing hundreds of little things all at the same time and allowing a lot of them to fail." Vogel added that the USPS would use a lean development process to try a lot of things, let go of the ones that don't resonate and keep a constant churn of ideas, expecting that some will fail.
Rapidly Changing Marketplace Necessitates Flexibility
Another challenge for the USPS is that the digital marketplace changes rapidly. The USPS isn't known for being fleet of foot in terms of its ability to bring new products and services to market. "The average app lasts about 18 months," Vogel said, "so the market changes quickly." He told customers that the USPS has limited resources as well as a lack of the right resources, forcing it to look for partners, development agents, coders, etc. to work on digital initiatives.
Two areas the USPS plans to initially focus its efforts on are its role as a trusted platform that can connect authenticated users to businesses and agencies for "personal business" transactions through secure messaging, as well as building a consumer platform.
The USPS is assessing a platform for secure messaging of purely digital communications that are confidential, transmitted between authenticated senders and receivers, and as a result are trusted. Vogel said this type of expansion into digital services would represent a virtualization of the USPS' core principles — trust, security, connectivity and identity. He noted the federal government has been discussing such communications and has invited the USPS to take part in the discussions to see if it could be one of the operators of the system.