Williams joined The Heart Foundation as its first
information services manager nearly two years ago. Before this, the charity did
not have a formalised IT structure, he says.
The charity saw
technology as a way to expand its reach, and get its message out to more
One of the first things
Williams noticed was the organisation had a lot of information flows coming
from different touch points and sources. Yet its internal systems were
collecting information from only a few of the data sources.
The first thing the
organisation did was understand the different touch points with the goal of
achieving a single view of the customer, Williams says.
He says The Heart
Foundation wanted to bring together a customer centric view of these interactions, and chose the CRM system for this.
This is being integrated
with its separate fund raising system to make sure there’s a record for every
individual The Heart Foundation interacts with. This provides the organisation
with a clear understanding of the customer and the best marketing database it
The charity worked with
Microsoft and Adaptable Solution to merge these datasets into a single Dynamics
The holy grail in regards to analytics is to get a real 360 view of the customer.Shaun Williams, The Heart Foundation
One discovery The Heart
Foundation made from its merged datasets is that its customers wear different
hats of have different personas.
Williams says the charity
“sort of knows” this is happening but could not easily prove it before.
Once all those
integration points come together, the charity can see if five different entries
in its websites, for instance, belong to one person who could both be a doctor,
a parent and a donor.
“The holy grail in
regards to analytics is to get a real 360 view of the customer,” says Williams, one of the ICT leaders interviewed by CIO New Zealand for a special report on ‘Thriving in a data-intensive world’.
Williams reflects on what
worked for the charity: “Firstly, start off with mapping the lay of the land
and getting a real good understanding of what are the touch points that your
customers interact with you?
“Then do an assessment –
which are of value, which ones are you integrating? That would open up a
bit of insight into where you can gain information towards that single view of
“Now that we have all this
information, how do we start making it fly?”
Williams says mobility is the next frontier for The Heart Foundation.
For their next project,
he is getting regional staff members fully equipped with mobility devices. When
they are out interacting with public schools and early childhood centres, they
can see the different hats the people they are interact with are wearing, and
provide a more tailored experience, he says.
The staff can show them
The Heart Foundation’s projects right on their mobile devices and sign up
members and donors immediately. Before, they used to take down notes, bring
these back to the office and then acted on them, he says.
“What we find with the testing, people are
more likely to sign up and start using their programs immediately if you cut
that transaction time down.
“If you leave it open and
say that we are going to get back to you, you leave an hour or two window, then
it is not on top of people’s minds anymore.”
With the mobile program
running, “You are getting more time to see more teachers and schools while on
the road and cut down on the double handling of data,” he says.
is the environment in which Tennis Australia operates: “We are a small to
medium organisation, with 200-plus people, for 11 months of the year. One month
of the year, during the Tennis Open, we become a global enterprise, with 8000
people,” says Samir Mahir, who was CIO of the organisation for four years.
Before joining Tennis
Australia in 2011, Samir worked at IBM with its Events Team, and was also
director of information technology at the United States Tennis Association.
Mahir, now working as a digital strategy and consultant, shares how analytics
literally changed the game for the organisation, both on and off court.
He says the organisation
started leveraging analytics by sharing data with fans and patrons. It has
since then been used to grow participation in the game, which is Tennis
Australia’s core mission.
“We thought, we are doing
such a great job in the event, we want to do this the whole year round,” he
Mahir says talking about
what other sports organisations are doing with analytics helped make the
business case. An example would be comparing how a major league baseball team
is leveraging data to improve ticket or merchandise sales.
“We are in the same boat; we
are trying to reach the audience, we are trying to grow the game, improve our
On the event side, Tennis
Australia is tapping into social analytics to help engage more with fans on and
There is a lot of
interesting, good or bad surprises that come from the data, Mahir says. The key
is how you transform and get insights out of the data to benefit you and improve certain things.
“In our case it is how to
engage better with our fans and improve customer experience.
“We just found out that
in fact, we have lot of loyal customers or people who come every year, and have
been for the past 20 years, with their families. They bought the same seats
over and over. You need to find a way to provide better services to these
He says the fastest
growing channel during the event from a social engagement perspective was Instagram,
not Twitter. “People love taking photos, so we put in some activity selfie pods
so people can take their photos and share them.”
Samir Mahir outlines how the organisation used data analytics and business intelligence to engage fans and guide coaches and players during the 2013 Australian Open
He says he had to find a way
to reach people even if they don’t come into the games. IBM CrowdTracker and
the Australian Open digital platforms (ie web, mobile and apps) are hosted on
IBM cloud. The cloud, like the digital platforms it supports, combines
analytics, mobile and social technologies to create and manage the most
engaging and reliable experience for fans across platforms.
“Last year we had over 17
million unique visitors to the website, and there was a 91 per cent increase in
mobile site views,” he states.
allowed Tennis Australia to plan for capacity based on the conversations on
social media or actual statistics on the server and on the website.
You can’t address these efforts with just minimal resources. If you want to do a good job, you need to invest in people with the right skill sets.Samir Mahir
This year, it launched
IBM Crowd Tracker application to learn how the crowd is moving from one gate to
For the first time this
year, Tennis Australia introduced IBM Watson as a layer on top of the
predictive analytics to optimise all the loads in its infrastructure.
On the year round side,
he says Tennis Australia invested in a data warehouse as it used to have
several disparate systems. “The analytics initiative allowed us to think about
better integrating our systems, and put together a digital strategy to make
sure we reach out to all types of audiences,” says Mahir.
“The key is to provide
real time information,” he says. “We have several stores, and a store manager
may want to know how the inventory is doing in real time.
“Analytics helps you do
that and that is part of the continuous improvement for the event.”
need the support of the CEO, the executive leadership,” says Mahir. “Without
that, you can try whatever you want. You could probably manage to do certain
things but not go through a huge transformation.
“The interesting thing we
learned is you can’t address these efforts with just minimal resources. If you
want to do a good job, you need to invest in people with the right skill sets,”
Mahir compares this
approach to a successful doubles team. “In order to be successful, you need to
practice, prepare and plan and then get along very well. If you see doubles
players during the match, they communicate between points and services. How do
you plan the next point just before, during and after?”
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