Email, long seen as the scapegoat in the downfall of the US Postal Service, could be its savior, according to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor.
Shiva Ayyadurai, who was the first to copyright the term "EMAIL," is working on a proposal for the USPS to enter the email management industry, reports The Tech, MIT's student-run newspaper. Ayyadurai says the typical flood of daily email is too much for the typical company to handle, meaning important messages get lost or misdelivered.
Under Ayyadurai's plan, postal workers would be retrained to help companies outsource email systems management. Many companies currently outsource the work to India and other countries, but the USPS brand may make it a viable competitor.
USPS is facing the prospect of cutting 35,000 jobs to avoid bankruptcy. Ayyadurai was contacted by USPS officials after discussing his ideas for the service in a FastCompany interview in September.
"Email was right there for them to own, if they wanted it. It was mail in electronic form being received, sorted, transmitted, and had to be done with reliability, speed and efficiency - all the core rubric of their entire model of transmitting mail," Ayyadurai said in an email interview with the magazine. "Instead, the USPS saw themselves not as a communications organization but a paper mail delivery company, and this was and is the source of their downfall, and at least the source of lost opportunities."
In 1996 Ayyadurai founded EchoMail, which used an algorithm to sort email for businesses. Ayyadurai said that he eventually discovered that humans were more efficient at sorting email than an algoritm, given birth to the thinking that led to his current, USPS-saving proposal.