MAH

Charities look to digital media to gain competitive advantage

Over the past 10 years there has been a shift in consumer behaviour towards online channels. At the start retail and media were two industries which were significantly impacted, with consumers preferring to shop online rather than high street stores. Suppliers which couldn’t adapt quickly enough became insolvent or were bought out. Some high profile examples are Blockbuster, Woolworths and Dixons.

Charities now face a similar challenge. Digital media and online presence is becoming more and more integral to raising brand awareness and collecting donations. Multi-channel interaction with customers is vital to establishing brand recognition in the 3rd sector where today there are over 150,000 charities in the UK competing for donations.

Some Charities have embraced the trend and recognised social and digital media as a huge opportunity to open new donation channels and increase brand awareness.

A recent success story has been Cancer Awareness who raised £8m from a Facebook campaign (girls take a picture with no-makeup and post on facebook to raise awareness for breast cancer).

One agency that is leading the way in digital media to launch campaigns and raise awareness is Amnesty International. To drive its digital strategy, Amnesty’s IT team embarked on an ambitious three-year project to overhaul its hosting platform. This project would involve the consolidation and re-engineering of Amnesty’s hosting infrastructure, and aimed to fully integrate all its online properties, and to provide enhanced data analytics and much greater functionality to users. Other objectives included simplifying the management of the platform and eliminating other inefficiencies, and improving the reliability and flexibility of the online infrastructure.

Claranet has helped us to simplify our back-end processes and to automate fulfillment, so that our staff can get on with more important things like building additional functionality to support our next campaign."
Kamesh Patel, Head of IT at Amnesty

Developer? Is managed application hosting right for you?

Claranet has offered managed application hosting for many years, but when you look out into the hosting market I am constantly surprised by other hosting companies running for the hills at the very thought of taking over the control and ownership of a customer’s live environment, and offering an SLA based on anything above the OS.

Why are most hosting companies scared of taking control above the OS?

It's clearly no mean feat, you simply can't take over a customer’s application and not expect issues. You have to learn how the customers application works, the issues it faces, and devise a contingency plan just in case something goes wrong. Organisations need to invest in processes such as ITIL which is a best practice framework for the provision of quality IT services, build the processes and documentation, and ensure they have sufficient qualified engineers to be able to support an application and all the infrastructure around it 24/7/365.

Why should developers care about managed application hosting?

It's simple, the developer’s core focus is usually based around delivering great code. However, we typically find that they somehow manage to also get burdened with having to run the hosting environment as a side-line. This generally happens because they possess the technical ability and understand their app, but running infrastructure is not what they have studied for years and trained for, and when problems happen this diverts their attention from core business projects.

By letting Claranet manage the application, developers can concentrate on spending more time delivering code, meeting deadlines, and adding more value to the strategic projects their organisation demands.

Speeding up your website with Managed Application Hosting

Most websites contain both static content and dynamic content, a combination that can really slow down user experience.

Of course, you want to avoid this slow-down at all costs and improve your user experience which can be achieved by scaling the web layer.

You might think to throw more server instances at the issue, though ultimately this is both ineffective cost-wise, and eventually not scalable.

Fear not, however, there is a solution, and it’s called caching.

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