Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Physical to Digital for Value-Add

I have gotten a little behind in my feed reading as of late, and just read this tech crunch post from last week about a new service offering called remote control mail.

"The service provides an alternative to PO Boxes, mail forwarding or waiting until you get home from the road to deal with your mail. The company receives your postal mail, scans the outside of what’s sent to you and provides a web interface to quickly sort through letters, bills, magazines and direct mailings."

Awesome idea with great market potential, but what is really interesting is that this is a great example of taking a very traditional everyday practices and thinking about a solution in an entirely different way. It makes me think about other common practices that could be supported with web based utilities. What other physical things can be digitized to add value? It comes down to looking at, and throwing out institutionalize practices (in this case - P.O. boxes, mail holds etc) that only make situations bearable, to coming up with a truly elegant solution to address the real need.

Even though I am not in a position to require this type of service right now, I would almost be tempted to sign up to block junk mail. It would almost be as simple as marking spam in your email box. What would be great is if you could mark a given sender as junk, and the service would learn and auto filter out future information from them. Gets me thinking about how the direct mail industry will react to this. Some will see this as a threat, but the smart ones will see this as an opportunity.

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