Australia Post is building a new event management platform on Google Cloud to provide customers with greater visibility into parcel tracking.
Chief information officer Munro Farmer said the new cloud-native platform would allow the government-owned corporation to “scale as the business grows”.
It follows a massive spike in parcel volumes over the past 18 months thanks in large part to lockdowns during the pandemic.
“Four out of five Australian households, so almost nine million households, made an online purchase at some point during . Included in that number was more than 1.3 million households that purchased in 2020 but hadn’t bought online in 2019," Farmer said.
“What that’s done for us is it’s really increased the volume that comes through our business and to cope with that we’ve had to invest in cloud-native solutions which are able to scale.”
Farmer said the new events platform will “sit at the core of [the] business”, capturing all of the scans as a parcel moves through the Post network, allowing it to “more effectively” connect with customers.
“Events are really the lifeblood of our business. As parcels go through our network we scan them, that gives you a measurement point on where a parcel is actually at in its journey,” Farmer said.
The platform is expected to offer improved “levels of visibility” both in terms of “insights and control over the journey of a parcel” – something that Farmer said AusPost has struggled with in the past.
It is not clear how long the work has been underway, though former CIO and now executive general manager of transformation and enablement John Cox first raised the idea in August 2019.
At that time, it was suggested that the the event management system would be built on Amazon Web Services.
But Farmer told iTnews that the new platform was being built using standard Google Cloud components like Big Query, Spanner, Looker and Anthos, in partnership with consultancy Servian.
Servian has been working to build out AusPost’s Google Cloud capabilities since at least September 2019, according to iTnews’ sister publication CRN Australia.
“This time around we decided to build it as a cloud-native platform because it allows us to scale. We also had issues with latency and different sources of data coming together,” Farmer said.
The platform will replace a legacy event management platform that the company has had “in place for a number of years”, but Farmer did not elaborate further.
“[The new platform is] allowing us to bring many different sources of data together with very low latency, and will be the core of how we measure a parcel moving through our network,” Farmer said.
“So it takes us from being more reactive in the past to being much more proactive in how we manage the service experience for our customers and consumers.”
Farmer also said the new event management platform is “very closely related” to work AusPost is doing around machine learning to calculate the arrival time of parcels down to a two-hour window.
“Those measurement points and starting to use the algorithms to predict what’s going to happen are really, really critical to this whole [event management] process,” he told iTnews.
“The more data we can bring in, the easier it is to forecast, and those algorithms that we’ve built from a machine learning perspective, they’re really dependent on that event data to begin with.
“So the richer that data is, the more timely that data is, the more accurate our predictions become.”
AusPost has been using Google cloud services to make “next best” delivery suggestions to drivers and posties since 2019 to drive “operational efficiency” and to improve the customer experience.