As the user experience becomes ever more digital, organisations must deploy the most advanced IT solutions to reach their audience. The British Heart Foundation has migrated to Microsoft Azure with Rackspace for IT modernisation, supporting a more robust website and powering its online retail store. Mary O’Callaghan, Director of Technology Engagement at the British Heart Foundation, tells us more about the solution.
Rackspace, the technology services company, has helped the British Heart Foundation migrate to Microsoft Azure and transform the role technology plays within the organisation.
The British Heart Foundation is the largest independent funder of research into heart and circulatory diseases in the UK, which it supports through voluntary contributions, physical stores and its online retail business. As part of its strategy to create a world free from the fear of heart and circulatory diseases by 2030, the charity wants to drive advances across the spectrum of these diseases, preventing these conditions from developing, as well as enabling those with existing conditions to lead better, longer lives.
The move to Microsoft Azure accelerates the charity’s goal, with infrastructure that provides a foundation for growth and supports increased fundraising efforts. The website has become increasingly important for driving this mission by housing fundraising campaigns, the online retail business and acting as a source of information for all stakeholders.
Working with Rackspace, the migration to Microsoft Azure has given the charity a scalable platform that is reliable and has an uptime of 99.9% to capture digital donations from across the globe.
Rackspace Professional Services worked collaboratively with the charity, from designing the solution through to technical implementation. The migration took six months without a minute of downtime. One of The British Heart Foundation website’s recent campaigns drove a significant traffic spike without encountering any of the issues the website faced in the past.
Mary O’Callaghan, Director of Technology Engagement at the British Heart Foundation, said: “As our IT set up moves from being a service provider to a core part of how we achieve our organisational objectives, both the wider business and the IT team itself has had to adopt a different mindset.
“A true partnership has been formed with the Rackspace Professional Services team who have supported us at every step of the process with unbiased expertise, deep platform knowledge and a strong understanding of our operating environment.”
Adam Evans, Director of Professional Services, EMEA at Rackspace, said: “It was crucial for us to work collaboratively with the British Heart Foundation to bridge the gap between its existing platform and an infrastructure ready to support its 2030 goal. Our Professional Services team got to know the business inside out before designing and delivering the infrastructure, automation and migration which was crucial to meeting the charity’s business objectives.”
Lee James, CTO, EMEA at Rackspace, added: “To achieve such an ambitious and important mission, the British Heart Foundation needed to totally transform the role technology played within the organisation. Beyond the cloud migration project, we’re proud to be helping the organisation with ongoing strategic guidance on how to use technology to improve the overall stakeholder experience, scale fundraising efforts, and ultimately, work towards its promise of beating heartbreak from heart and circulatory diseases.”
Mary O’Callaghan, Director of Technology Engagement at the British Heart Foundation, tells us how beneficial the Microsoft solution has been for the organisation and how it has contributed towards helping the charity reach its goal.
How important is having a reliable IT infrastructure for the British Heart Foundation?
A reliable tech infrastructure and website are key to achieving the organisation’s ambitious goals, as set out in our new strategy to 2030. It is the platform for our online retail business, houses fundraising campaigns and acts as a vital source of heart health information for tens of thousands of people every week.
For instance, our London to Brighton Bike Ride is a major annual event and all of its information and fundraising is processed through the website. We see a major peak in online traffic during this time and we had issues in the past with the website slowing down, grinding to a halt, or even crashing, which hampers the user experience and can hinder people from supporting us.
In moving to Microsoft Azure with Rackspace, we’ve established a reliable IT estate that enables us to achieve our ambitious goals. The website can handle increased traffic from campaigns, provide donors with an improved experience and is future-proofed to grow our online retail business.
Why did you choose to work with Microsoft and what appealed to you about its solution?
As part of our strategic review, we recognised the need to transform our infrastructure and the broader role of technology within the organisation in order to deliver on our strategy to 2030. Once we determined that we needed a new infrastructure platform to drive reliability and scalability, we appointed Rackspace as a strategic partner. Having selected Microsoft Azure for its reliability and Platform-as-a-Service offering, Rackspace was key in providing the technical knowledge and expertise to help us tackle the complexity of moving to the cloud and realise value from it as quickly as possible.
What are some of the business benefits you’ve seen since the implementation?
The migration kicked off in October 2018 and was completed in April 2019. Throughout the process, the website stayed online without a minute of downtime, with Rackspace and the British Heart Foundation taking a staged approach across multiple teams to ensure the transition was as smooth as possible.
The modernised platform has provided the foundation for our 2030 strategy. In the past, there had been concerns over whether certain campaigns would break the website. However, after the move to Azure we ran a campaign on dementia and although traffic was significantly up, we didn’t encounter any of the issues across the site that we had in the past. The platform also remains available every minute of the day, along with customer support in case something goes wrong outside of normal working hours.
We’ve also seen additional benefits in recruitment, with an industry-leading platform that makes it easier to attract and retain the talent we need to make our ambitions a reality. It’s the first time we’ve had IT and digital working together, with Rackspace leading the way, setting up all sorts of possibilities for further business benefits in the future.
How has the team adapted to a different mindset and what does this involve?
The role of technology and innovation across the organisation is shifting to underpin our business strategy. With our IT set-up moving from being a service provider to a core part of how we achieve our objectives, we have been able to adopt a different mindset across the team and wider business – something we have learnt from Rackspace’s culture and how it delivers innovation.
Rackspace has and is continuing to operate as an extension of the British Heart Foundation team. The Professional Services team provided us with advice, support and guidance on the right ways to deploy the cloud, transforming the role technology plays in the organisation.
How has the system improved efficiency for the end-user?
Not only have we benefited from Rackspace’s technical expertise, we have also learnt from its mission to always provide a fanatical experience to its customers. This has helped us achieve one of the key goals of our IT transformation: delivering a positive user experience for all stakeholders – both those helping us reach our aim of ending heartbreak by 2030 and those who are benefiting from it.
One way that we’ve delivered on this goal has been through our website, which has improved the website availability and online experience for volunteers and donors. It is also something we are looking to develop by further tailoring the user journey for different stakeholders. We want to introduce personalisation technology to provide individualised content and information to carers or those affected by heart disease, for example. Ultimately, this will ensure that all our stakeholders are having a relevant and useful experience.
How far has the system future-proofed the organisation?
The migration was always about providing a future-proofed platform to support our 2030 strategy and the reliable infrastructure has opened up a number of new possibilities. We’re going to be pushing a lot more traffic through the website in the coming months and years, and we’re reassured it will be able to perform optimally. The new, expandable platform is also helping us think of new ways of helping patients via digital technologies, using data analytics and patient insights.
While the new site is reliable and scalable, we understand it is just the first step in keeping on top of advances in technology. The user experience is becoming increasingly digital and we need to make sure we are using our online presence to better engage with our stakeholders, supporters and beneficiaries. We’re looking at Platform-as-a-Service with Rackspace, which will help us be more agile, more scalable and more stable. It’s ongoing and it’s the way we can best use technology to reach our targets.