Most technologies and services go through technology and product life cycles. It is reasonable to assume that postal products and services will follow a life cycle as well.

According to the life-cycle science, the decline of technologies, products and services will happen in given time. Life-cycle management is a main staple to successfully manage short-lived software and consumer products. Postal services feature long lived services like letters, and therefore are a less than ideal target area for life cycle science. Nevertheless, we believe that the stage is set for major shifts in the postal market. How much time the decline of various postal segments will take, is a complex question, but a very important one. New technology advances will eventually cause shifts in postal technologies and result in non-linear erosion of various traditional postal segments. The unprepared will be caught off guard, which typically results in loss of market share or even complete business failure.

Aligning business strategies is complex and can be frightening, since politics and labor related issues need to be addressed as well. Historically, postal management had to deal with growing business and automation, which differs from managing smooth transitions or even new postal technologies, which are mostly software based and do require life cycle management. The emerging field of Technology and Innovation Management may be able to make some contributions reaching beyond typical life cycle management.

National postal services can try to smooth the waves by taking part in new developments. Some national postal operators in Europe are already preparing for a future transformation, with Swiss Post leading the pack. As for USPS, we are not aware of any serious efforts, which would allow USPS to take part in new upcoming postal technologies. If USPS misses this train, then down-sizing may be the only task left for the next 25 years to come.