Australian Red Cross putting data at the centre of its cloud strategy

The not-for-profit is looking to create a 'master data hub'.

The Australian Red Cross understands being a not-for-profit organisation means that it needs to be cost-conscious in the way it delivers services and makes use of available resources. To improve overall efficiency, the organisation has been working on moving away from relying on data centres and shifting completely to the cloud for the last five years.  

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"Ultimately, our goal is to get out of infrastructure entirely," said Danijel Andric, interim CIO at the Australian Red Cross, speaking during the virtual Boomi Out of This World conference.

The process has involved adopting a data-centric strategy and working on creating what Andric has dubbed would be a "master data hub".

He said a master data hub could serve as a key tool for helping the Red Cross better understand its customers, including clients, members, volunteers, and donors.

"There are a lot of different customer segments and making sure that we use the data for the right reasons, we get the most value out it. Ultimately, it's about helping of those that need the help and data will definitely give us a lot of insights," he said.

Eventually, the organisation hopes the data hub can plug into the organisation's online self-service portal, called My Red Cross -- which is used and accessed by some 270,000 customers, and designed to deliver a "uniform engagement experience" -- without having to rely on manual integrations or CSV files. Currently, interactions with customers occur through a variety of channels, Andric said.

"At the front door, we have a beautiful portal everything looks quite nice, but no data sits in that portal," he said.

"That data could be sitting in a number of systems, so the intent here is really to combine that data to master it, to create that single record of a customer, and then also to have that personalisation embedded in our back end systems, ultimately powering that unified experience."

As an example, Andric highlighted how the hub could simply communication with volunteers. 

"Volunteers could go, log on to this portal, they can then submit what their availabilities are, and ultimately that data then feeds back our back end teams to see if we need to leverage those volunteers because we already have that data available," he said. 

But this is not the first time the Red Cross has noted how crucial data is to its operations. Red Cross Blood Services Australia executive director of Donor Services Janine Wilson previously pointed to how she wanted to reach a point where the organisation could use data to predict blood and plasma supply, so it could be prepared during disasters. 

In 2016, a 1.74GB MySQL database backup containing 1.3 million rows and 647 different tables from the Australian Red Cross was leaked. At the time, it was called the largest unintended release of personal data seen so far in Australia. Despite the incident, Wilson revealed that those affected had, generally speaking, forgiven the organisation for the breach and that Red Cross was focused on never letting that happen again.

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