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​The Heart Foundation: 360-degree view of the customer

​The Heart Foundation: 360-degree view of the customer

IT director Shaun Williams says the charity saw technology as a way to expand its reach, and get its message out to more people.

Shaun 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 people.

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 could have.

The charity worked with Microsoft and Adaptable Solution to merge these datasets into a single Dynamics CRM system.

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 the customer.

“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.

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This 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 says.

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 image.”

On the event side, Tennis Australia is tapping into social analytics to help engage more with fans on and off site.

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 people.”

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
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
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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.

Predictive analytics 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 another.

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.”

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“You 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,” says Mahir.

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?”


Send news tips and comments to divina_paredes@idg.co.nz

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Tags customer focusSamir MahirIBMMicrosoftmobilityWatsoncrmsocial mediaDynamicsShaun Williamsanalytics

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