The holiday season presents a unique challenge for agencies like the United States Postal Service.
While the festive efficiency of Santa’s reindeer-powered delivery promises excitement for children, real-world agencies like USPS grapple with the challenge of ensuring millions of packages find their way home reliably during the holiday rush.
The USPS itself can unwrap a technological gift to help improve efficiency — the gift of artificial intelligence. As AI continues to take the world by storm through its rapid advancements, finding ways to harness its power becomes equally important.
One of the ways AI can help enhance the USPS’ shipping operations is through predictive analytics. The future of AI integration into the USPS’ logistical and operational processes by way of predictive analytics looks like a more agile and responsive shipping network, better equipped to uphold its commitment to timely and accurate deliveries. AI fuels predictive analytics to evaluate historical data for informed staffing decisions ahead of the holiday season. It further derives insights for route optimization and fleet management, ensuring trucks are fully loaded to facilitate optimal package movement and timely deliveries.
Predictive analytics also enables USPS operations to proactively assess the health and performance of their delivery trucks. This forward-thinking approach allows for preventive measures, addressing potential issues before they escalate into breakdowns. By keeping a pulse on the fleet’s condition, the USPS can minimize unexpected disruptions, promoting routine maintenance and ensuring that every truck is in prime condition for the holiday rush.
This comprehensive approach, combined with real-time monitoring, not only prevents potential issues but also contributes to overall cost reduction for USPS. Additionally, it affords operations managers lead time to formulate contingency plans for potential weather delays, aligning with the overall goal for optimal package movement and on-time deliveries. Most importantly, this proactive approach, streamlining processes and ensuring the reliability of the delivery network, allows the USPS to better manage staffing schedules. This, in turn, provides employees with more predictable and balanced work hours, allowing them valuable time to be with their loved ones during the holiday season.
In Santa’s bustling workshop, his elves seem to possess an innate knowledge of the whereabouts of every gift. However, in the realm of USPS, the same level of precise information isn’t always readily available to customer service representatives. AI can also assist with transparent tracking to enhance the customer experience. As it stands, there exists a discernible gap between the creation of shipping labels and the real-time tracking information available to consumers.
This discrepancy is particularly pronounced in the business-to-consumer sphere, where consumers often find themselves in the dark about the precise whereabouts of their eagerly anticipated packages.
AI could bridge this gap by seamlessly integrating every stage of the shipping journey, ensuring that everyone, from customers to dedicated USPS customer service representatives, has access to real-time updates from label creation to final delivery. This capability could also be augmented by cost-effective RFID sensors, adding an extra layer of precision to the tracking experience and further enhancing efficiencies.
This integrated approach not only provides real-time tracking updates but also holds the promise of significantly reducing accidental missed deliveries. The incorporation of cost-effective RFID sensors, coupled with AI, enables precise monitoring, allowing for immediate identification of when a package was damaged. Additionally, it fosters accountability within the delivery process, especially if drivers can capture images of the actual delivery location. This added layer of transparency not only enhances customer trust but also ensures that packages are handled with the utmost care throughout their journey.
Furthermore, envision a scenario where the USPS, leveraging AI agents, goes beyond the visual and enhances customer support by describing precisely where a package was delivered while conversing with a customer over the phone.
This innovative approach utilizes the images captured during delivery, transforming them into valuable insights that customer service representatives can articulate. In a sense, this capability can be likened to a form of reverse engineering. Just as one might provide AI with a description to generate an image as an output, here, AI deciphers the image first and then provides a detailed description as an output.
As the USPS navigates the challenges of holiday season deliveries, AI can revolutionize the way the USPS addresses these challenges.
By seamlessly integrating predictive analytics, route optimization, and real-time tracking, AI stands as a transformative force in ensuring efficient and accountable operations and customer support – and most importantly, a seamless holiday delivery experience for all.
An executive with forty years of experience in the public sector technology market, CRO Phil Fuster leads Hitachi Vantara Federal’s revenue strategy.
With 25 years in the IT industry, CTO Gary Hix leads architecting, implementing and maintaining custom technology solutions for Hitachi Vantara Federal.
Pragyansmita Nayak, as chief data scientist of Hitachi Vantara Federal, has more than 24 years of experience in software development and data science and has led projects for several federal government agencies.