Wesfarmers OneDigital has set ‘SaaS model’ standards for itself, supported by service standards, engineering practices and tools that together create a foundation for the nascent digital and data arm to grow.
OneDigital broke cover in April, and has since gone on to unveil OnePass, a subscription program that consolidates products from across Wesfarmers' retail brands, and offers member-only prices as well as free delivery on many items.
Head of engineering Gurnam Madan told the PagerDuty Summit 2022 that OneDigital had the benefit of being “a brand new organisation”.
“The focus is to get our foundations right as we grow and solve different problems for all of the [Wesfarmers] businesses,” Madan said.
One of the foundations is to “apply SaaS model thinking” to OneDigital’s operations, such that its quality-of-service is the same as a Wesfarmers brand would expect from any vendor or partner it engaged.
He said that establishing trust is also critical, as OneDigital’s model sees it engage with customers of existing brands like Kmart, Target and Catch, all of whom have existing expectations of customer experience.
Madan said that expectation informed “the level of standards that we have to hold … to offer these services”, both to Wesfarmers’ brands and to those brands’ customers.
“To get that right we really need to invest in getting our foundations correct - and that’s where PagerDuty comes in, to make sure we are adhering to our SLOs [service level objectives] and our SLAs [service level agreements],” he said.
“I think setting up PagerDuty right allows us to reflect what those business services are which are critical, what are some of the components which make those business services, and how we align it back to the right people when there are issues, which is critical in this day and age.”
Madan said that OneDigital is also using PagerDuty to manage its incident response faster, and in doing so, show its internal customers - the other Wesfarmers businesses - that “we are reducing the risk [because] we can respond to issues faster.”
“From a PagerDuty perspective, I think the key thing there is how do we help cut the noise across so much information that’s coming through to us,” he said.
“That’s where I think some of the smarts around event orchestration … is going to help as well.”
He also said that OneDigital had used a secure-by-design or privacy-by-design approach to service creation, and again that this is possible because the operation is new.
From an engineering perspective, Madan flagged a potential embrace of chaos engineering - a set of practices designed to improve system reliability by making it more resistant to failure when encountering unknown or unanticipated operating conditions.
He saw merit in “causing chaos yourself so you’re ready” for as many eventualities as possible.
“Dont wait for something to break and then learn,” he counselled.
“It is going to break. [You] might as well just break it yourself in a controlled environment and learn from it, and that’s where PagerDuty plays a key role.”
He added that AIOps to detect anomalies and correlate events is also potentially on OneDigital’s radar.