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From crowdsourcing to DRaaS: cloud has diverse business impact

Phil Wainewright Profile picture for user pwainewright July 15, 2014
Winners for business impact at this year's EuroCloud UK awards showed the diversity both of cloud solutions and of the UK's cloud industry

The multifaceted nature of cloud computing and the diverse business results it can deliver was on display at last week's EuroCloud UK awards. The event had everything from crowdsourcing youth engagement with UN policy-making to reducing business risk by relocating backup systems to the cloud.

Diginomica was there as media sponsor of the award for Best Business Impact, which gives us the opportunity to write about the winning case studies — more on those in a moment. First up I'd like to highlight that UN case study, which won the separate public sector award.

UN-approved crowdsourcing

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UK-based social ideation platform Crowdicity won the public sector award with its account of "the first-ever crowdsourced document to be granted official UN status."

The document in question was the Global Youth Declaration (PDF) produced out of the BYND2015 Global Youth Summit held in Costa Rica last September. Organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the aim was to give young people an opportunity to influence UN policy priorities for the future of ICT. As Crowdicity recounts:

In addition to 400 young people from 68 nationalities who gathered at the summit in person, the cloud-based Crowdicity community allowed a further 2,700 people from 173 countries to virtually tune in online, share ideas and participate in remote workshops from all over the globe. Young people in countries as diverse as Zimbabwe, Tunisia and Ethiopia logged on to share their opinions — an operation which would previously have been impossible.

The final set of priorities, crowdsourced using Crowdicity, was delivered to the 69th United Nations General Assembly by the President of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla. It was then granted official status by [UN Secretary General] Ban Ki-moon, which marked a significant shift in the way the UN drives global discussion and harnesses external views.

Crowdicity's collaborative innovation platform is delivered as software-as-a-service to a range of enterprises and organizations including John Lewis, the BBC, Oxfam, LEGO, Procter & Gamble, Saint-Gobain, the NHS and the WWF.

The ITU is continuing to use Crowdicity as the platform for its Young Innovators Competition in the run-up to this December's ITU Telecom World meeting in Doha. (Not to be confused with its policy-making Plenipotentiary conference taking place this October in Busan, South Korea, where Internet governance will be a controversial topic).

Life-changing cloud

A non-profit organization was one of the finalists in the Best Business Impact awards, with a potentially life-changing cloud implementation. Coeliac UK implemented the Workbooks CRM system into its website to manage membership subscriptions and purchases, along with their access to a vital directory of establishments selling gluten-free foods.

Within six months of going live, almost forty percent of members had activated the service. Members can directly submit information on gluten-free dishes served at various venues, either via the website or a mobile app. After verification by a member of staff, the information is added to the venue directory. According to Brendan Harris, director of ICT at Coeliac UK:

Historically this entire process relied upon phone calls and manual processes. Now, not only can we provide a far quicker update on restaurant menus but the commercial team has faster access to new leads for advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

With the addition of the mobile app, members are now able to quickly use location based services to locate the closest venue offering gluten-free food.

I previously wrote about SDL's implementation of Fairsail, which was the other runner-up finalist for the business impact award. As a sidenote, it was heartening to see such a strong cross-section of UK-grown cloud vendors in this year's Awards. In addition to those already mentioned, recently AIM-listed Rosslyn Analytics was a contender for best cloud application while the winner in that category was Really Simple Systems, which with 8,000 customers describes itself as "Europe's biggest CRM vendor."

Surprise winner

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ASA wins Award

The surprise winner of the best business impact award was the Advertising Standards Authority for an implementation by infrastructure provider Techgate.

The UK advertising regulator needed to update the business continuity arrangements for its mission-critical complaints database, which hanldes more than 30,000 complaints annually with a target response time of just 5-10 days. The existing arrangements consisted of shipping standby servers to its office and manually restoring from backups.

The Techgate solution replaced this with automated failover to a "disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)" platform based on replicating virtual machines using VMware's Site Recovery Manager product. An IBM shared storage platform and cloud backup to a second data centre complete the solution. According to Techgate:

We have managed not only to reduce ASA's recovery time by an impressive 95 percent, significantly impacting their exposure to risk as a business, but also enhance their overall business continuity strategy by adding manageability to their DR and the ability to non-disruptively and autonomously test the solution for real peace of mind.

Virtual compute and storage are smartly provisioned so that the customer only pays for the resources being used.

The UK winners now go forward to compete against winners of similar contests held by national EuroCloud organizations throughout Europe. The European champions will be announced at an Awards ceremony held on September 30 to coincide with the EuroCloud Congress, which brings members together from across Europe to meet in Luxembourg.

Disclosure: diginomica is a media sponsor of the EuroCloud UK award for best business impact. Fairsail is a consulting client of the author, who serves as volunteer chair of EuroCloud UK.

Image credits: Feature image © igor -; BYND2015 image courtesy of ITU; award photo by @dt

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