Advances in Regulatory Economics series
Edited by Michael A. Crew and Paul R. Kleindorfer
Chapter 21: Innovation in Postal Products and Pricing: Opportunities and Obstacles in the Reform Era
Robert A.F. Reisner, Maynard Benjamin and Derek Osborn 1 INTRODUCTION The ‘search for innovation’ is a phrase that can be heard with increasing frequency throughout the global mailing community today. There are multiple examples of postal operators (POs), suppliers, competitors and customers who have developed initiatives to seek new ways to generate revenue, lower costs, improve productivity and even to establish new business models. This growing interest in innovation has created a cascade of new questions as sponsors work to improve the returns on innovation investments. What is the most important target for such investments? (Top-line revenue growth? Cost reduction? Process improvement? Customer service? Transformation?) Is there an innovation process that is best suited to POs to yield dependable results over time? Should innovation investments focus on the existing framework and traditional business model, or should they explore new models such as corporatizing and privatizing the post? This diverse array of questions oﬀers a new perspective on an industry in search of a vision for its future. Innovation is a core concern in a larger conversation that is taking place around the world about the need to transform POs. New technologically sophisticated private express competitors and Internet technologies (electronic diversion) are challenging the traditional postal business model. In Europe, Asia and North America, a growing list of nations and policy makers, postal and mailing community leaders are reaching out for new ideas. Many governments have responded with major new postal investments and even have introduced fundamental changes in the...
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