Sergey Nivens -

CW Innovation Awards: Flybuys cranks up cloud for service efficiency

Australia’s biggest loyalty platform takes 12-month journey towards the cloud, slashing time to deliver customised offers to less than 45 minutes, among other outcomes

When Flybuys embarked on a 12-month journey to the cloud, it recognised the importance of integrating security into the design from the start, as well as developing a change management plan to ensure key stakeholders were proactively engaged.

The primary objective of the cloud move was clear: the loyalty platform needed a robust foundation to serve its 8.6 million active members better. A secure and reliable architecture was critical to provide deeper customer insights, enabling the company to offer more relevant personalised services from a wide range of partners, while safeguarding sensitive user data.

Established in Australia in 1994, Flybuys set things in motion during the Covid-19 lockdown when it kicked off an organisation-wide digital transformation effort to drive its migration to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

With improved customer services as its overarching goal, it outlined several key targets, such as the ability to not only quickly onboard rewards partners, but also to push out new member services and more relevant real-time offers.

Other items on its checklist included re-engineering its existing technology stack to facilitate more real-time transactions and customer insights, as well as building agile, resilient digital capabilities that enabled Flybuys to roll out test concepts and embark on new market opportunities more quickly and cost-efficiently. It also wanted real-time contextual insights to power more effective campaigns that could help drive customer sales.

The move would see the company leverage customer data, so it was essential that efforts were made to strengthen Flybuys’ overall security posture and ensure personal information was safeguarded. It built new capabilities in identity, data and application programming interfaces (APIs), and enlisted Versent Australia to help steer the project and migration to AWS.

The cloud services consulting firm was selected for its deep technical knowledge and hands-on experience with similar large-scale migration projects. Versent also recognised the need for a robust, secure cloud architecture where tight integration and data hosting would be key in driving Flybuys’ goal of delivering improved customer service.

Versent took just under one year to transition Flybuys’ technology platform to AWS and Flybuys soon noted significant efficiencies across its service delivery and work processes.

From hours to minutes

For instance, before the migration, it would take up to nine hours for Flybuys to process offers from a new partner, which would involve tediously trawling through its vast member base to identify customers who were eligible for the new service.

It can now push curated, customised offers in less than 45 minutes. The time reduction allows Flybuys to deliver more offers to customers, significantly enhancing not only members’ overall engagement on the loyalty platform, but also its experience with partners.

Also, the ability to rapidly onboard merchants has accelerated Flybuys’ revenue growth, because it can respond better to seasonal retail promotions such as Christmas and tap market demand even as it fluctuates.

This is also true for new partners, which can now quickly hop on the platform and tap time-sensitive market opportunities.

Operating on a cloud infrastructure has further enabled Flybuys to launch features such as Flypay, which integrates digital payment and customer loyalty services.

The migration also brought about greater efficiencies in the company’s back-end processes, where automation control capabilities from the Stax platform-as-a-service (PaaS) deployment have resulted in a better-run DevOps practice.

With Stax, a lean engineering team of seven is all that is needed to maintain and enhance the cloud environment. It has freed up valuable time for Flybuys developers, who have been able to redirect their focus to value-added engineering work instead of cloud maintenance duties that do not deliver competitive advantage for the business.

In fact, Flybuys’ DevOps team has been able to clock a 1,600% improvement in efficiencies from parsing data and processing campaigns. This has allowed the internal team to work on more critical business issues and take on tasks with higher yield in terms of member and partner outcomes.

Change management key to success

A carefully designed cloud migration is not the only reason Flybuys has been able to reap real business benefits from its digital transformation. It also invested significant effort to ensure employees across the organisation understood why the transition was important and what would be required of them to ensure a smooth transition.

It also helped that Versent had an intimate understanding of Flybuys’ business model and data requirements, having worked together before the AWS deployment.

The scope of the project spanned several key areas, including cloud migration, modernisation of business applications, and implementation of managed services for cost optimisation and enhanced resilience. Flybuys’ data and analytics platform also needed an overhaul and data modernised in preparation for the migration.

To secure buy-in from all employees, it established a communication strategy to ensure key stakeholders were proactively engaged from day one. Various activities were rolled out, including a series of training and handover sessions involving different stakeholders across the organisation, such as board members, senior leaders, digital marketing executives and engineers.

The change management plan also included efforts to educate stakeholders affected by the transition on the benefits of the migration. These included workshops to explain how campaigns that used to take 11 hours to roll out could now be carried out in just one hour, eliminating the need for the operations team to report for work in the early hours of the morning to run the campaign.

Technology demonstrations also were conducted to help stakeholders understand how the Unpacked platform enabled them to bring on new partners and access deeper insights more quickly.  

Looking back on its migration journey, Flybuys realised that the challenges it faced as an organisation were no different from its peers in the industry, which also had to address issues caused by poor digital customer experiences, such as low engagement and adoption rate. They also had to deal with outdated, legacy systems that resulted in poor data insights and sluggish time to market.

These lessons underscored the benefits and efficiencies that could be gained from stepping forward to embrace new technology platforms and capabilities. These would lead to higher customer acquisition and loyalty that, in turn, would drive overall revenue and cost savings.

Read about other CW Innovation Awards winners

  • A blockchain-based system developed by Singapore-based Zuellig Pharma can help governments and healthcare providers weed out fake vaccines and manage vaccine distribution and administration.
  • Bharat Petroleum has developed a digital nerve centre powered by the internet-of-things and artificial intelligence technologies to monitor the journey of its products.
  • Sime Darby Industrial’s inService Suite has returned over 100,000 hours to the company in a digitisation initiative that has improved efficiency and customer engagement.
  • Singapore Airlines has expanded its blockchain-based digital wallet into a broader digital lifestyle platform.

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