​Australia Post to capitalise on Data61's digital expertise

Australia Post has announced a partnership with Data61 as part of its strategy to become an ecommerce and e-government organisation.

With the grand vision of becoming an ecommerce and e-government services company, Australia Post has announced a partnership with Data61 to leverage the organisation's digital and "cyber" expertise.

According to Australia Post managing director and group CEO Ahmed Fahour, the postal service will maximise its ecommerce expertise by working with with some of Australia's best data and innovation experts.

"We are continuing to directly invest in ideas that will improve the lives of our customers and our partnership with Data61 further demonstrates this," he said. "This business-driven approach will bring short-term teams together to understand what does and doesn't work for our customers."

With the help of Data61, Australia Post intends to clean up and digitise three areas: Trusted services, which includes securing purchases from its online store and building easy-to-use services backed by what it called advanced cyber capabilities; the future of logistics, by applying expertise and insight to the data from Australia Post's trucks and parcel deliveries to drive advances in supply chain management and methods of delivery; and digital government services, which is centred on improving how Australians can access and utilise government services when and where they need.

Australia Post said it is already involved in market trials of new technology that transforms how citizens can access government services in regional, remote, and metropolitan areas.

"Our first trial will allow us to deliver a range of e-government services to customers in up to 20 areas of isolation or social disadvantage, resulting in improved convenience without having to travel to other service centres," Fahour said.

"As a major ecommerce business, innovation is part of our future. We need to continue to respond quickly to the ongoing shift in consumer behaviour towards digital channels."

The partnership with Data61 builds on the organisation's AU$20 million innovation fund that was launched late last year.

The initial cash injection was given to emerging ecommerce startups as well as funding the co-location of its Lab-14 premises, Australia Post's accelerator hub, to the University of Melbourne's Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP).

At the time, Fahour said that the investment fund and initial partnership with MAP were part of an ambitious program to support small businesses and to accelerate ecommerce innovation across Australia.

"We will work with our people, our customers, the community, and our partners to identify new opportunities and emerging, disruptive ecommerce businesses that we can accelerate," Fahour said.

"We will use the AU$20 million capital fund -- which with the success I expect could grow to more than AU$100 million over coming years -- to directly invest in great ecommerce businesses with ideas that will improve the lives of our customers."

Earlier this month, Andrew Dilenis, Australia Post head of digital systems, revealed that the organisation was playing catch-up when it came to being digital. Speaking at Criterion's Implementing an As-a-Service Model conference, he said Australia Post's realisation that it needed to change was when it was experiencing a decline in revenue, an increase in competition, and a growing shift in the digital market.

"Failure wasn't an option for us; we had a burning reason to get better at digital and we needed to do it faster," he said.

Australia Post also revealed in July that it managed to reduce the average cost of a technology project by AU$800,000.

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