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How tech integration helps the Australian Red Cross better deliver its mission

Nurdianah Md Nur
Nurdianah Md Nur • 4 min read
How tech integration helps the Australian Red Cross better deliver its mission
CIO Brett Wilson shares how the non-profit is working with Boomi to build a digital spine for a more connected operation and experiment with AI use cases, at Boomi World 2024 in Denver. Photo: Boomi
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Providing cash assistance grants to affected individuals is one way the Australian Red Cross helps with disaster relief. However, raising funds on-demand and processing a huge volume of transactions in a short period of time can be challenging.

In February 2022, severe floods destroyed thousands of homes and livelihoods of communities in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland. The Australian Red Cross held a five-hour live telethon across three major Australian commercial TV networks to raise funds for the affected.

The non-profit received 30,000 dial-ins on TV and saw 24,000 concurrent web users on its donation page during the event. It was able to ensure seamless connections for those by rapidly scaling its Boomi services to focus on priority systems – including the MyRedCross portal, customer relationship management system (CRM) Pivotal, financial application Technology 1, and other internal cloud services.

“Boomi was the common link that pulled all our systems and data together, handling the telethon’s traffic surge and ensuring supporter engagement was accurate and stable,” says Brett Wilson, chief information officer at the Australian Red Cross in a press release.

In an interview with DigitalEdge on the sidelines of Boomi World 2024 in Denver, Wilson shares: “Once donations come through the payment gateway, they’ll go through our legacy CRM and finance systems linked by Boomi. During the telethon, our legacy finance system was struggling to ingest the [massive amount] of transactions.

“Boomi acted as a messaging queue that [slowed/paced the speed] of transactions [being fed] into our finance systems, ensuring that transactions are being processed instead of becoming a heap while giving us time to tweak our legacy systems to speed up the ingestion process. Normally, we don’t like to slow things down but it was a requirement. We don’t want to end up with transactions that didn’t appear in our finance system, making reconciliation difficult,” he adds.

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Building a digital spine

The Australian Red Cross is progressively building a digital foundation. “We call it the digital spine as it’ll run the entire organisation [and it will help change] the way we operate,” says Wilson.

The non-profit first modernised seven core systems — including finance, HR information system, customer relationship management, marketing automation and enterprise risk platform — over the past 12 months. It also uses Boomi to connect those modern systems with its 240 legacy apps, enabling automation and a single source of truth. 

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For instance, it managed to automate most of the manual steps of its grants platform, which disburses cash assistance to migrants brought into Australia. The last step, however, could not be automated as it involved a fraud check requiring human intervention.

“We estimate that we’ve saved 451 days of manual effort using automation, and this is just for one process [of processing cash grants]. We have hundreds of other processes we have so the possibilities around automation are endless, and we can redirect resources to do something meaningful rather than admin tasks,” shares Wilson.

AI’s role

The Australian Red Cross is also experimenting with artificial intelligence (AI) to further increase its operational efficiency. Wilson states: “We’re looking at Boomi AI to reduce the requirement for technical people to set up connectors so that [non-technical employees like] a business analyst can create connectors on the fly [in natural language].”

Such self-service capability will help speed up time for development, make better use of its lean internal IT team, and free up funding that can be channelled to the community. Wilson expects this capability to help save 1.3 million hours of waiting time the organisation would normally have from employees requesting access to the database, over a three-year period.

Generative AI, he adds, is also being used to develop more personalised EDM (electronic direct mailer) to enhance donor outreach. “We could suggest to a donor who has been donating $10 a month to increase their donation to $15. But if we suggest an amount that is too much, they might stop their regular donation.

“So the more data we get and bring into our marketing automation platform, [we can use generative AI to analyse that data] to find that sweet spot [amount for each donor] and help us deliver richer and more personalised EDMs. And Boomi has a role in that since it sits in the middle of our systems [and is our digital spine enabler],” says Wilson. 

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