Rodney Gedda's piece of the Web

AusPost going all corporate


Last week I attended an Optus function where the company’s director of government and corporate affairs, Maha Krishnapillai, was farewelled for his new role at Australia Post.

Since the move was announced earlier this month rumours sprung up that AusPost was planning to become Australia’s next mobile service provider. All parties concerned have hosed down the overblown claims of a “full on” assault on the telco market, but the appointment does make sense when you look at how AusPost’s business is changing.

What began as a social service has now morphed into a commercial business that is aggressively pursuing many diverse interests. I recently had to PAY AusPost to verify my identity whereas JPs have to do it for free.

AusPost still maintains a monopoly over regular mail services, but the rise of Internet shopping has given rise to a healthy parcel delivery service on top. The other signigicant change is with its post offices turning into post “shops” selling everything from cards to computers. The local post office is more like OfficeWorks these days.

One of the most marketed services of recent years was the ability to use a post office as a payment gateway for all types of bills. Great if you want to pay a bill (which can be paid online at home) in person, but not so good if you want to duck into a post office and buy some stamps (which are still sold there, BTW). Every post office I’ve been to in metro areas always seems to have a queue 20 people deep. My local one, at the back of a newsagent, has managed to remain hidden from the bill-paying crowds.

Today a new report tells us a 24×7 parcel pickup service is coming to a post office near you.

So that’s where the mobile service provider speculation comes in. AusPost already sells SIM cards and mobile handsets, so it’s now completely unreasonable to suggest it will become the next MVNO.

The point of all this is very interesting. An organisation that was designed to provide a specific service has been forced to “reinvent” itself to provide very different services ostensibly to “grow the business” in order to compete in a “free market” capitalist economy.

And AusPost is not the only government organisation to radically change its business model in response to operating cost pressures. Banks and the Big T telecommunications company are doing the same.

Who knows in years to come we may go to our local post office to make a phone call as the delivery of snail mail had long been deemed economically unviable.

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