PHIL SIMON

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The Postal Service as a Platform?

Are we confusing planks and platforms?
Jun | 14 | 2012

Jun | 14 | 2012
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I recently keynoted Postal Vision 2020. You can watch it below. I introduce the framework of The Age of the Platform.

I sat on a panel moderated by Jeff Jarvis. Before concluding, Jarvis asked the panelists two questions:

  • Is USPS now a platform?
  • Should it try and become one?

Remember, everything seems to be a platform these days. Video games. Credit cards. Cars.

Think Bigger

My answers: No, the USPS now as currently constituted is certainly not a platform. As for number two, government should be the platform and USPS should be one of its planks.

Tim O’Reilly has argued that government needs to become more of a platform–as opposed to merely a service provider. He’s right. The way I see it, unless the USPS morphs into a proper and for-profit business, it’s part of government.

My message to the Postmaster General was simple: Think bigger.

While expansive, the postal service has to fundamentally rethink things to remain relevant. Private sector alternatives and the rise in digital distribution mean that business for the USPS won’t continue as usual. Building a standalone “platform” is not the solution.

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