When Amazon finally launched its Australian operations in late 2017, the media frenzy surrounding the digital behemoth’s impact on business and the economy was palpable.
Could mainstream retailers survive? Would supermarkets be hit? Which suppliers would thrive or wither away? How rapidly would the economy change?
Few things seize public, business and government attention as sharply as one of the world’s biggest online disruptors setting-up shop in your backyard.
It hammers home that the world is changing — and so are public expectations and the way we live.
For those working in government, meeting those expectations — whether they’re from customers or ministers — can shift from being routine and predictable to volatile and uncertain faster than it ever has done before.
Government and the enterprise of change
What makes the difference between successful change and adaption is knowing how and when to harness the experience of others and apply those lessons to your own organisation.
In a market economy businesses compete, rise, fall or reinvent themselves based on what their customers want. Or don’t want.
But it’s a very different social contract when it comes to customers of government. You can’t shop around for a new motor registry, justice system, welfare or tax department, even if those agencies utilise private sector providers.
When expectations aren’t managed or met, the impact and consequences for government agencies providers can be swift and unforgiving. Just ask any social media manager.
Commitment where it counts
Few government organisations have been hit with a change mandate as bluntly as Australia Post which, just a few years ago diversified deeper into eCommerce.
Just as importantly Australia Post made fundamental commitment to harness the lessons from transition to an agile, digital first footing and put them to work for the public good -– largely through its Business & Government division.
It’s no accident that Enterprise & Government’s core offerings of omni-channel delivery, digitised customer services and business process improvement are all areas where the public sector (and business) are being buffeted by change.
Concurrently, Australia Post is leading the way in making an opt-in, user friendly and highly trusted digital identity credential — Digital iD™ — available to consumers, business and government to embed integrity into Australia’s online ecosystem. It’s no pipe dream either and in market now.
Greater than the sum of its parts
Frequently the role of government is to provide stability or services where they may not otherwise be. We regulate citizen and corporate behaviour, build roads, allocate water and collect and redistribute money.
We also expect to trust government. This mandate means governments need to absorb change and adjust effectively and quickly — to serve citizens.
Service commitments often remain constant. Police uphold the law, schools educate and hospitals treat the sick, but the mechanisms of service delivery have shifted profoundly.
More often than not, it’s rapid developments in communications and technology accelerating that shift — a wave that Australia Post has been on the crest of more than a century.
Cars, trains, planes, phones and the internet have all transformed the Australia Post’s delivery. But what’s stayed is an unwavering commitment to work with the nation to make change as positive and productive as possible.
As banks, billers and government agencies all moved transactions online, Australia Post made a conscious decision to diversify the services its branch network offered to maximise convenience for consumers and clients alike.
At today’s Post Office you can pick up an online parcel at your convenience, apply for passport, renew a driver’s licence, part pay a bill or apply for a police working with children check.
You can also securely send money across Australia or overseas, claim rebates or obtain refunds where all parties are assured of the integrity of the transactions and its participants.
The importance of maintaining a pervasive, friendly, effective and efficient physical retail presence for everyday transactions in terms of equitable service delivery is hard to understate.
Even though a growing number of Australians have embraced online channels as second nature, those who are not confident or comfortable should not be left behind or excluded. Nor should those who have otherwise limited access to services.
For an older Australian the ability to conduct simple affairs like part paying an electricity bill or claiming a pensioner rebate in person and over the counter can make the difference between isolation and an independent life.
For government — federal state or local — looking to take advantage of digital services, business process improvement yet maintain a friendly physical presence, the true value of equitable service is hard to put a price on.