Wall Street Journal – A Case of Uncreative Destruction

Picture of OUtbox Logo

One of the best Wall Street Journal editorials that I have read all year – ‘A Case for Uncreative Destruction’.  WSJ journalist, Bari Weiss, writes of Outbox, a service that would have benefited the consumer (e.g. consumers could unsubscribe from junk mail) & the fiscally challenged US Postal Service (USPS) alike.  Fast-forwarding to the end, the “postmaster general shut it down”.

In a nutshell, the USPS (which perennially runs deficits), felt a strategic partnership with Outbox was not to its advantage.  Why you might ask?  Because the Post Master General felt that its customers were the “several hundred volume mailers”, and not the individual consumer.

Mr. Weiss writes that “Outbox would collect your mail and scan it. The company could unsubscribe you from unwanted catalogs and shred junk mail. A smartphone app allowed you to categorize and file bills with the swipe of a finger.”  By leveraging one-to-one technology, Big Data and predictive analytics, the service could vastly improve the customer experience, while radically reducing costs for the USPS.

Outbox is Shutting Down—A Note of Gratitude

Source: Outbox Web Site

Outbox scored very high on the disruption check-list:

  1. Eliminated customer pain points:  Yes
  2. Dramatically reduced complexity:  Yes
  3. Provided user-based Options:  Yes
  4. Make the customer experience smarter & more streamlined:  Yes
  5. Used automation to interface with customers:  Yes
  6. Invoked transparency:  Yes
  7. Personalized services to drive loyalty:  Yes

Founded by Evan Baehr and Will Davis, two Harvard Business School Graduates, Outbox had the support of major investors including Peter Thiel and Mike Maples.  The company shut down in February of this year, followed by other ambitious digital mail companies including Zumbox and Manilla.

While I am sure that there is another side to the story, the article is worth reading, as it reads like a referendum on the government’s ability to reform, and calls to question its ability to implement sweeping changes to the healthcare system.

Logo-for-the-Wall-Street-JournalTo read ‘A Case for Uncreative Destruction’ on the WSJ web site, click here.

By Nick Mavrick

You can find Nick Mavrick on Google+

Intelligent Response specializes in operationalizing Predictive Analytics and Digital Advocacy projects from start to finish in Washington DC.

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