How An Post delivers on its digital transformation strategy

13 Jan 2023

Des Morley. Image: An Post

The company’s chief digital and technology officer talks about the challenge of harnessing data and the importance of a holistic approach when it comes to fraud prevention.

An Post has been integrating technology into its services for several years, from IoT trackers across its supply chain to the more recent digital stamp last year.

Having joined the company four years ago, Des Morley continues to lead its tech strategy as the chief digital and technology officer.

Morley has extensive expertise in driving large digital and data transformation strategies, accelerating the adoption of digital change programmes both internally and for customers.

Prior to his current post, Morley held digital and commercial roles at Eir, O2 Telefonica and American Express.

He told his role is a strategic function to identify opportunities where digital, data and tech innovation can help deliver An Post’s business strategy and transformation agenda.

“Not only are we transforming the way we do business, but we’re changing the perception of An Post through new or enhanced services and customer experiences and delivering on An Post’s ambition to have best in class digital customer connection and engagement.”

‘IT’s role needs to be at the heart of removing friction as we move further into the hybrid world’

What are some of the biggest challenges you’re facing in the current IT landscape?

The struggle for IT/digital talent prevails despite the recent announcements from large tech organisations. An Post is a great employer, and we offer exciting and varied work, but it remains a challenge to fill critical skilled roles and retain key IT staff.

We’ve put in place excellent staff remuneration, development and support programmes, and have found people want to work with An Post because of what we stand for. They are attracted to our highly reputable iconic Irish brand that respects its employees and works hard to deliver top quality and sustainable services for the citizens of Ireland, leaving no one behind.

Cybersecurity continues to occupy the minds of most chief information officers (CIOs), and the necessity to build the appropriate resilience and capability within the organisation.

In An Post, we view cyberthreat as a wider business risk, and we’re continually investing in this space. We have built up an excellent team of professionals to protect the organisation from prevailing threats.

[Another challenge is] harnessing the (sometimes overwhelming) opportunities of data, and what can be gained through analytics. In An Post, we have an overwhelming amount of data across a wide range of diverse product lines and operations, so putting that to its best use is a critical part of our future success and the opportunities are huge.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation?

The role of CIO has evolved significantly, leaning far more into the realm of digital. Real digital transformation works best when the strategy is aligned centrally and can only be successfully implemented when the entire organisation embraces change and is equipped to drive the change.

While we have centralised digital and IT teams to support the business, we take a democratised approach to digital prioritisation, where the business and technical teams form ‘fusion teams’, heavily influencing our digital change agenda, customer experiences and investment priorities.

How can sustainability be addressed from an IT perspective?

IT has a large part of play in terms of the wider sustainability environmental, social and governance (ESG) agenda. At the heart of most organisational strategy is sustainable growth, and while IT cannot define this alone, by using intelligent connected systems we can help identify and reduce energy consumption and costs associated with managing IT.

Digital tracking tools, data and analytics, for example, are critical in identifying focus areas, agreeing action plans and reporting progress. They also help to engage stakeholders such as customers, staff, suppliers and unions in both the detail and the bigger picture.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world?

Application modernisation and scaled cloud migration will continue to take central focus and the majority of our IT investment.

The opportunity of cloud in terms of facilitating rapid innovation enhances our ability to try new things quickly and that’s quite exciting, albeit that cost management is an ongoing challenge.

Work, and how we do it, is evolving rapidly and IT’s role needs to be at the heart of removing friction as we move further into the hybrid world, supporting those working in the field.

How can we address the security challenges currently facing your industry?

The whole industry would benefit from stronger and more structured centralised security knowledge sharing, insights and expertise.

It would also benefit from taking a more holistic approach with regards to fraud prevention affecting our customers and employees.

Right now, its feels very much that most organisations are battling away on their own, in particular with regards to educating customers on issues such as phishing/smishing. A more collaborative approach would be more effective and efficient.

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