Did you see the cover story in USA Today on February 8? You know, the story about the end of the postal service being near. I guess we don’t need to worry about rain, sleet or snow anymore. The report indicated that the volume of mail today includes only .7 % personal letters. And, 47% of mail volume is commercial advertising, fliers, circulars and catalogs.
This isn’t just about the end of the post office. What about the companies that make the mail boxes? And mailbox posts (when I was young it seemed that all mailboxes were attached to the house or there was a slot in the door). Don’t forget about the companies that make those odd little mail trucks (the ones with the steering wheel on the ride side). And with 47 % of the mail volume being advertising of some kind – junk mail as so many refer to it – what about the people that do all of the layout and copy work, not to mention the printers that will lose a lot of business. Maybe it’s the buggy whip manufacturers association … take two. Yep, we have seen this kind of thing before. Plus, the postal service just isn’t that user friendly. After all, I actually have to GO OUT to get my mail when it arrives. And I can’t read it on my smartphone. Not much use for something I can’t get on my smartphone.
Did the good old USPS miss an opportunity somewhere along the line? Did they not recognize the business that they were really in? When Al Gore invented the internet – was that 1993? Why didn’t someone in the postal service look at AOL and say, “Hey, we might have an opportunity with this e-MAIL thing.” But they had a clear notion of what mail was and e-mail didn’t fit very well in their frame of reference. They didn’t see the opportunity. Otherwise, we might all have email addresses that end in “@usps.com” or “@usps.net”. The people that had a monopoly on “mail” missed their biggest opportunity to maintain relevance in a new world.
So can the accounting profession learn anything here? What about the age-old audit. Has it changed much in the last 50 years? Oh sure, all kinds of new standards and audit procedures, but has it fundamentally changed. We have talk of continuous auditing. Maybe. But how is that different? What about integrated reporting? That might be the right direction. But, the profession doesn’t have the legal monopoly on that as they do on auditing. And other professions think that they are best equipped to fill that space – not CPAs. The future of business reporting WILL change. And some profession will be the most respected, credible and reliable source for relevant business information. Who will that be?