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Australia Post hires Microsoft veteran to spearhead digital strategy

Australia Post has once again emphasised the importance of its digital strategy, having poached Microsoft Asia-Pacific president Tracey Fellows to run many of the organisation’s new digital initiatives as it adapts to a parcel and digital dominated system.

However, experts are still sceptical about the organisation’s plans, saying the company has a tough year ahead if it wants to upgrade its tech system.

“They’ve made a big splash about the post locker system, but they haven’t expanded that out yet,” warns University of Western Australia professor David Glance, an expert in software research and development.

“I still fundamentally believe they’ve got a strange challenge on the software side of things.”

Australia Post announced today Fellows, who was formerly the managing director of Microsoft Australia, will become the first executive general manager for the communications management services business unit.

Australia Post was contacted by SmartCompany this morning, but no reply was available prior to publication.

"Tracey will be leading a very important part of our business at a time of significant change, as Australian businesses and consumers increasingly shift to digital forms of communication," a spokesperson told The Australian.

"Tracey's background in technology and her strong sales and marketing experience, working closely with large enterprises and government agencies, made her the standout candidate."

The move to hire Fellows represents a shift within Australia Post to focus more on digital services, as part of a billion dollar upgrade of its systems. It also follows a number of software and technology-related hires, including former Telstra chief financial officer John Stanhope, and former Optus regulatory and government affairs chief Maha Krishnapillai.

The organisation is facing key problems, as revenue from its parcel products continues to grow and represent the majority of its business. The company faces a logistical problem as under-resourced locations deal with a huge influx of parcels.

But businesses are concerned, after having been hit with price increases in the past year. As the company searches for alternative revenue streams, SMEs are being flogged for sending parcels and other products.

Last year, Australia Post said price increases were “due to increasing external business costs”.

"We're also experiencing record volumes of parcels being sent across our network and internationally, driven by growth in online shopping."

Australia Post has attempted to capitalise on the shift to digital – it recently announced a digital postbox strategy. But David Glance says given the organisation is so large, it’s questionable whether it can introduce change very quickly.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily a success having hired from Microsoft,” he says, “given Microsoft’s track record of being pretty appalling over the past decade”.

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