CIO, Österreichische Post
At the beginning of 2014, Dr. Peter Garlock took over group-wide management of IT at Österreichische Post AG. Using his extensive international experience in IT management, the transformation of business processes and controlling of complex projects, he has since been making the company fit for the digital revolution and the large, dynamic aspect of cloud computing. The main focus of his work lies on aligning the newly organized group IT and the digital business transformation of Österreichische Post AG. Currently aged 44, Garlock was already building his national and international IT experience during his education, working as a freelancer with Thyssen and Mannesmann Demag. After graduating from the University of Graz with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, he worked in various top management positions at IBM for a total of 16 years, beginning as business analyst at IBM Germany in 1998 and later becoming a key account manager. In 2004, Garlock founded the IBM subsidiary Blue IT Services for outsourcing of IT services in Central and Eastern Europe. In 2007, he assumed the position of sales manager for key accounts from industry, telecommunication and retail at IBM Austria. From 2011 onwards, Garlock was responsible for establishing the new business area cloud computing. Born in Salzburg, he is married and has two children.
Österreichische Post AG is Austria’s leading logistics and postal services provider. Its core business areas include the delivery of letters, mail advertising, print media and parcels. The company’s branch network is one of the largest private consumer networks in Austria, providing products and services in the areas of banking, postal and telecommunication to customers throughout the country. In total, Österreichische Post AG is active in 13 countries with 55 subsidiaries and 24,000 employees, primarily in the fields of parcels & logistics and mass mailings.
Österreichische Post AG became a legally independent company in 1999. It is the indirect legal successor to the business divisions “Gelbe Post” (Yellow Mail) and “Postautodienst” (Postal Automobile Service) of the former Austrian Postal and Telegraph Administration, which were created on 1 May 1996 in the course of the separation of the Postal and Telegraph Administration into the so-called Gelbe Post and Telekom Austria. In 2000, the Postal Automobile Service was split off of the parent corporation, and since then Österreichische Post AG has been focussing on its core business. Privatization of Österreichische Post AG was discussed starting in 2004 and eventually executed on 15 May 2006, when 41.3 million shares of Österreichische Post AG were offered at an issuing price of EUR 19. The stock was first listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange on 31 May 2006. ÖIAG owns 52.8 % of Österreichische Post AG, with the remainder of shares in free float (15.4 % Austria, 14.2 % Europe without Austria, 10.4 % Great Britain and Ireland, 7 % North America, 0.2 % rest of the world).
Movie with Peter Garlock
The Österreichische Post AG Cloud Strategy
For internationally active businesses, cloud solutions are increasingly becoming an important component of the overall IT strategy. At Österreichische Post AG, present in 13 countries with 55 companies and employing a staff of 24,000, the targeted use of cloud computing allows more agile and flexible infrastructures, resulting in accelerated go-to-market for new business ideas. With the help of a cloud policy and a Cloud Competence Centre, cloud approaches relevant to any new IT challenge are evaluated and tested in regard to load requirements. Then CIO Peter Garlock and his IT team select the best currently possible implementation.
Progressive digitalization is rapidly changing the business world. Information technology is one of the main drivers of innovation – not only across industries, but across departments within companies. New approaches in IT like cloud computing, big data, social media and mobility provide strategic benefits to organizations at lower cost than before, and in more ways than enterprises acting alone could possibly dream of. Correspondingly, IT staff and managers are increasingly faced with the requirement to achieve more with fewer resources and less manpower – and in a very short time. This necessitates new solutions to generate greater strategic benefits while simultaneously lowering costs, or at least keeping them at bay with a view to increasing complexity and internationalization. For precisely these reasons, cloud computing is the order of the day. Although few companies are substantially employing services from the cloud as yet, most are at least evaluating where the use of this new, dynamic technology could be sensible in relation to their future plans and requirements. Expectations are high, for the cloud promises great flexibility and reduced costs. But there are also concerns: Are my data really secure? Can I actually save money, offer my customers and business partners more effective services, or even open up new areas of business with cloud computing? In addition, the pace of change is constantly increasing and the options, providers and technologies are multiplying. In order to get the most out of these new IT opportunities, keep up with the pace of change and successfully integrate the cloud into their specific corporate IT strategy, companies need competent, innovation-conscious IT managers who have an eye for the big picture and are open to new methods and possibilities.
More Flexibility and Agility in IT Solutions
Österreichische Post AG is already travelling down this path of digital business transformation, with cloud computing representing an important component of the process, confirms CIO Peter Garlock, responsible for IT across the entire group and thus also for development of the IT strategy. “With the help of cloud services, we are able to react flexibly to requirements and produce far more agile solutions.” Collaboration within the company is already cloud-based, for example, and the mobile device management for the MobileFirst strategy is likewise operated in the cloud. Even the operation of certain business processes is implemented in an infrastructure cloud at the respective customer’s request.
Garlock explains the motivation for increasing use of cloud computing in the future in a nutshell: “The business wants agile und flexible infrastructures. With the cloud, we can accelerate go-to-market for our business ideas.” And that also applies across borders, for Österreichische Post today is an internationally active corporation running 55 companies in 13 countries with 24,000 employees. The most important countries besides Austria are Germany and Turkey, and the core business areas are letter and parcel logistics as well as online innovations. Garlock: “Since we have IT services in all of the countries we are active in, it is normal for us that data are hosted in those countries or within the EU. This internationality is supported by cloud services.” The CIO and his IT team have to proceed cautiously and selectively, however, because “Österreichische Post also stands for privacy of correspondence.” Sensitive data like addresses are therefore never consigned to the cloud.
To ensure that all IT staff act according to a consistent guideline and to provide an overview for the other specialist departments, a group-internal cloud policy was developed. In the course of its establishment, the IT manager introduced a classification scheme for documents: “Documents that are not intended for the cloud will not go there. We distinguish clearly between what we can and cannot consign to the cloud,” Garlock says. The entire cloud strategy is based on the general data privacy guidelines of Österreichische Post and was aligned with the group’s risk mindset as well as core values like trust, reliability and security. In addition, for every new IT challenge the company approaches, the cloud policy is used to determine what technical framework conditions a cloud service must fulfil. Garlock also applies an in-depth process for testing load requirements: “After that we decide for or against the use of a cloud solution – depending on the area or project.” SLAs and quality requirements are specified in the context of a requirement profile, regardless of whether the service is sourced from the cloud or not. The service requirements are defined in the hosting policy and the General Terms and Conditions.
Cloud Policy with Competent Employees
Last but not least, the targeted use and optimal application of cloud computing needs competent IT staff. Asked about their requirement profile, Garlock says: “We are looking for employees in all areas of IT, for project managers, developers, and SLA and service managers.” In order to optimally integrate new staff members into its experienced teams and combine new ideas with tried and tested methods, Österreichische Post is currently establishing a Cloud Competence Centre. Among other topics, the corporation’s know-how on all types of cloud services will be concentrated there. Possible applications could include computing services, transactions, document processing, non-critical database applications, email services or simple administrative tasks.
Where exactly a specific application can be implemented within the group will ultimately be decided by the experts under consideration of the cloud policy. What is certain is that rapidly growing data volumes are increasing the demands placed on data analysis and reporting systems at Österreichische Post – particularly in terms of flexibility and real-time capabilities. The main objective is to accelerate the business processes (business warehouse topics) and reporting.
“The business wants agile and flexible infrastructures”
On the path toward digital business transformation, cloud computing is an essential component for innovative, forward-looking enterprises. Hence the cloud also plays a central role in the IT strategy of Österreichische Post AG (Austrian Federal Mail Service), which is currently active in 13 countries with 55 companies and has 24,000 employees. In an interview with KURIER, CIO Peter Garlock, who is responsible for IT across the entire corporate group, explains in which areas cloud services are already in use, how their quality is evaluated, and why Österreichische Post AG has recently begun establishing a Cloud Competence Centre.
KURIER: In what way are you involved with cloud computing?
Cloud computing is an essential component for us on our path towards digital business transformation. It allows us to react flexibly to requirements and produce far more agile solutions. For example, collaboration within our corporation is based on cloud services. Mobile device management for our MobileFirst strategy also runs in a cloud, and the business process of one of our subsidiaries is operated entirely via a cloud at the customer’s request.
Why do you think the cloud is important for your company?
The business wants agile and flexible infrastructures, and the cloud accelerates go-to-market for our business ideas.
Have you already developed a concrete cloud strategy for the coming years?
We began developing a cloud policy for our cloud strategy in 2014. For all newly launched IT-related projects, we evaluate the sensibility of using cloud solutions – so long as they can be aligned with our data protection requirements and our risk mindset, and are compatible with our fundamental values like trust, reliability and security.
How do you react to the frequently voiced concerns about cloud computing?
In the course of establishing our cloud policy, we introduced a classification scheme for documents: Documents that are not intended for the cloud will not go there. We clearly differentiate between what we can and cannot consign to the cloud. Österreichische Post is an international corporation active in 13 countries, and our most important countries besides Austria are Germany and Turkey. Because we have IT services in all of these countries, it is normal to us that data are hosted in these countries or within the EU. This internationality is supported by cloud services.
How do you ensure that the individual departments know in which forms cloud computing is allowed or forbidden?
Simply by talking about the subject. We have also established a high level of security responsibility, involved our internal revision department and assembled a separate team that deals with data privacy. This combination ensures sufficient information of the specialist departments.
How do your employees acquire the necessary know-how to handle a complex sourcing relationship like cloud computing effectively?
We have a central IT operation management where the competence of the SLA and service managers, e.g. for the area of cloud services and SLAs, is concentrated. In addition, Österreichische Post has begun establishing a Cloud Competence Centre where we blend colleagues experienced in traditional methods with new staff coming to us with fresh ideas from the market.
What is the requirement profile for new IT employees regarding cloud computing?
We are looking for employees for all areas of IT – as well as project managers, developers, and SLA and service managers. The profiles are extremely varied. It is not difficult to find competent staff in Austria; the quality is very high. Over the last five years, Österreichische Post has launched a number of innovation projects and introduced a lot of new topics to the market. If we succeed in telling our fascinating stories in this context, then we will have no problems motivating people to join our company.
How do you verify the sufficient quality of a potential cloud service?
As part of our cloud policy, we thought about the technical framework conditions a cloud service has to have. For example, does the required load capacity even merit using the cloud? We test these things ahead of time. In total, the individual aspects become part of a comprehensive process at the end of which we decide for or against a cloud solution in regard to a certain area or project. In terms of the requirement profile, we also determine SLA and quality requirements independently of whether the respective service is sourced from the cloud or not. The service requirements are specified in the hosting policy and the General Terms and Conditions.