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Data | Digital economy

Australia Post now a lead indicator of digital disruption

Australia Post has gone from being a leading indicator of GDP to instead the lead indicator of digital disruption, Australia Post CEO Ahmed Fahour has told a CEDA audience in Perth.

“The amount of letters mailed by Australians had grown consistently for 200 years and it was almost perfectly correlated with GDP that is until the year 2008,” he said.

“In those eight years I mentioned since the peak of the letter volumes which was roughly 5.3 billion the mail business in this country has halved.”

Mr Fahour said revenue from the parcel business has tripled in recent years.

“Last year for the first time in our history, the parcels business generated more than half of the revenue of all of Australia Post, our regulated letters services is now only 28 per cent of the total revenue,” he said.

With the rise of e-commerce, Australia Post has gone from a letter monopoly to a company that competes globally in the letters and parcel ecommerce market.

Also speaking at the event, Synergy Chief Transformation Officer Stephanie Unwin said solar panels are causing mass disruption in energy markets.

“This technology we are facing in terms of mass disruption and endless possibility…is all about distributed generation,” she said.

“The introduction of rooftop PV is possibly the one single advancement more than any other that has turned our traditional energy industry on its head.”

Ms Unwin said solar has “changed people’s perceptions about energy.”

Once people install solar they become engaged and interested in the energy trading market, she said.

“This behaviour will actually drive what the energy utility of the future will look like,” she said.

On competition in the energy market, Ms Unwin said the threat is no longer other energy companies, it is consumers, telcos and companies such as Ikea who have said they want to be the biggest distributor of solar power in Europe.

“Synergy’s single biggest threat now is no longer from utilities like Alinta or Origin or AGL coming into our market place but it’s actually every current and future household,” she said.

McKinsey & Company Senior Vice President, Sahil Merchant said digital change and growth is about the organisation as well as the consumer.

“Digital transformation is as much about the organisation and organisational change as it is about customer and customer technology,” he said.

Mr Merchant said great modern companies embrace technology internally.

“Great digital companies walk the walk, they’re not just digital with customers but they are digital with themselves,” he said.

“If you empower your staff with digital tools and make digital part of the way you just interact as an organisation they’re more likely to embrace that when it comes to solution design.”

On the topic of consumer experience, Bankwest Chief Information Officer, Andy Weir said customers are now driving digital change and disruption in companies, not just start-ups.

“Increasingly customers want to be treated as an individual and they expect organisations to know who they are,” he said.

Mr Weir said that customers expect to have access to services and be connected all the time.

“Customers now demanding when, where and how they interact with organisations has become increasingly important,” he said.

“Organisations find it much harder to say we operate Monday to Friday, nine to five.”