Enterprise Architecture Awards

The 2014 Enterprise Architecture Awards

At a time when Web and mobile technology development have become top priorities, effective enterprise architecture matters more than ever. Here are this year's six winning initiatives

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Australia Post: Focusing on customers

Australia Post is a for-profit, government-owned business enterprise with products and services across many industry verticals. Since 2011, digital disruption has accelerated downturns in the company's traditional letters and retail business, while at the same time creating growth opportunities in areas such as parcels, e-commerce, and government services. In response, Australia Post has undergone a fundamental transformation and created new products and services that are relevant and compelling for customers in the digital age.

The technology organization has shifted its focus from back-office, ERP system consolidation to enabling business growth and innovation through technology by investing in customer, product, and channel platforms. At the same time, Australia Post has increased efficiency and agility by adopting new technologies -- such as big data analytics and cloud infrastructure -- and a new customer-centric operating model. The EA practice, in turn, has reorganized itself around the following strategic objectives:

  • Drive customer centric-thinking across the technology organization and the enterprise as a whole
  • Enable business growth by guiding projects toward solutions that better address customers' needs and wants
  • Set strategic technology goals to maximize the value of technology investments

Australia Post's EA practice champions customer-centric tools and methods across the organization, partnering closely with business units. The EA practice developed leading-edge thinking on how to integrate customer experience management principles with business and technology architecture, and it recently rolled out training on these techniques to several hundred of Australia Post's staff.

With strong traceability to both business and customer outcomes, the EA group created architectural blueprints for key domains. Its iterative approach to enterprise architecture recognizes both "intentional" and "emergent" architectures, while considering various future-state scenarios. Long blueprinting cycles are avoided in favor of quick response and practical solutions that enable rapid progress. To ensure customer perspectives were represented, the EA group partnered with the sales organization to engage directly with customers, particularly e-commerce merchants, to better understand their needs -- which directly influenced technology strategy and solutions.

With a deliberate communications plan, the EA group engaged all levels of the business with tailored messages and deliverables. These included an interactive demonstration of technology strategy to the board, top-level summaries of key blueprints and road maps for business executives, and reference architectures/patterns for software engineering teams. Many of these artifacts are regularly referred to today.

Many initiatives have been developed, scoped, and sequenced as a result of the EA group's blueprints and road maps, which have informed the spending of approximately A$2 billion ($1.8 billion U.S. equivalent) in capital investments. At the same time, the benefits in terms of technology cost, speed, and sustainability have been substantial:

  • A projected cost avoidance of A$40 million over five years (with A$5 million already realized) through a new data/analytics platform, hosting, and IT network services
  • A$1.8 million in projected annual cost savings and simplification through technology decommissioning
  • A projected 34 days' reduction in project duration through accelerated infrastructure provisioning
  • A projected annual carbon emission reduction of 6,030 tons

The impact has been even more impressive in terms of business growth. Thanks to a human-centric re-architecting of the digital experience, adoption of customer self-service solutions has increased, as has revenue from digital channels. Digital platforms have been scaled to support a year-over-year increase in mobile and Web visits of 200 percent and 30 percent, respectively. Leading-edge in-memory systems have been deployed to handle the massive volumes of data associated with routing and tracking parcels, providing customers with greater convenience and choice.

Today, the value of EA is well recognized. Thanks in part to customer and digital channel blueprints, Australia Post boasts more than 1.4 million registered customers with single sign-on across five products/services. In 12 months, it is estimated that this will rise to 4 million customers across 12 products/services.

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