Transforming the Lawn Tennis Association

LTA: At the top of its game

What do you do with an ageing infrastructure which is becoming more unreliable and less able to cope with the demands of running major international tennis tournaments and unable to support members and increase revenue? Simple, you undertake a strategic transformation and that’s exactly what the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has done, in partnership with Atech Support.

The LTA is the National Governing Body for tennis in Great Britain, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, and its mission is to promote the sport ‘from grassroots participation through to the professional game’. It is also responsible for the organising and running the oldest tennis tournament in the world – Wimbledon. However, its ageing systems were not only letting the organisation down day-to-day but hampering any ambition for development and growth.

The case for change

Andrew Rowney, Business Development Manager at Atech, walked delegates at TechSmart 2019 through the transformation pathway for the LTA – how the business case for cloud migration was prepared; why LTA chose Microsoft Azure and Atech Support for the project; lessons learnt from the cloud migration project; and how the project has helped to transform the organisation.

“There was a serious need for change – end of life systems and an ageing infrastructure meant that system reliability was poor and would regularly break down under pressure, particularly during a tournament such as Wimbledon.

“Our task was to align the needs of the LTA with technology and provide the platforms for users to be able to do their jobs most effectively, alongside advancing all areas of IT in line with their strategic plans.”

The transformation was a complete success and the Association has been ‘thrilled’ with the outcome, particularly as the changes have reduced costs already by around £500,000 plus there has been a 99.5% improvement in system reliability.

Lessons learned

  • Collaborate via a roadmap to bring people with you by informing them what’s going on and getting them involved
  • Find the right transformation partner
  • Future proof the systems
  • Reduce risk as much as you can
  • Choose the right platform
  • Make sure all stakeholders are involved and engaged

LTA’s transformation was a great success, enabled by the technology not led by it

Christians Against Poverty utilising Gift Aid to make impact

Why wouldn’t you?

“Why wouldn’t you do all you can as a charity or non-profit organisation to make the most of Gift Aid?” asked Dan Kingsley, Head of Fundraising Operations, Christians Against Poverty (CAP) at the recent TechSmart event in London, “it is a huge bonus and it’s just not being talked about.”

Gift Aid plays a significant part in CAP’s fundraising – the £1.2 million that the organisation receives forms 9.5% of its total income. “That means we can help many more people than we would be able to without it,” says Dan.

Unrestricted funding such as that from Gift Aid, are donations a non-profit organisation may use for any purpose that they wish. These funds usually go toward the operating expenses of the organisation or to a particular project of their choice – including digital transformation.

“We all know what restricted funding means but Gift Aid has no restriction – it can help transform your fundraising – it could even transform you digitally if you want to spend it on that, which can ultimately help you raise more funds and make an even bigger impact.”

CAP’s mission

CAP was founded in Bradford, West Yorkshire by John Kirkby in the 1990s. It is a national organisation specialising in debt counselling for people in financial difficulty, including those who need advice to help them in bankruptcy or insolvency situations. It also provides Job Clubs for those who are looking for work and Fresh Start Courses for people who want to overcome addictions and dependencies.

“We are on a mission at CAP to release millions of people from poverty and debt which steal people’s lives from them. By equipping and empowering local churches to reach out on their doorsteps, we’re bringing hope to over 21,500 families every year. Imagine having to choose between buying your children food and being evicted? It is a choice that no-one should have to make.”

CAP has 30,000 regular donors and around 320 staff, therefore needs to be strategic with the money it receives to maximise our reach and impact, and our digital technology helps with this, says Dan.

“Some charities never make a claim from Gift Aid, so do it now and prioritise Gift Aid in your organisation – regardless of manpower.”

Poverty breaks families apart, isolates people from friends and family, shatters confidence and drives many to think that suicide is the only way out.

AI: Bringing people together or the end of the world as we know it?

It is predicted that in the next 50 years we will have built a brain that is smarter than us in every way. This will probably be the last thing we ever create and nobody knows what will happen. It keeps me awake at night and is probably the largest existential threat to humanity, leading AI expert Daniel Hulme told delegates at TechSmart 2019.

Daniel, who is CEO of Satalia and also runs a masters programme at UCL (University College London), views the world of artificial intelligence from both an academic and commercial viewpoint.

“There are two definitions that people often have of AI – the first one is popular and weak: getting computers to do things as good as or better than humans do. The second which is much better, is that AI is goal directed adaptive behaviour that works towards an objective. Good AI learns from its decisions both good and bad, and adapts its behaviour accordingly.”

Often, Daniel told delegates, companies don’t have technology or machine learning problems, they have decision-making problems and many are beginning to realise they have people working for them who have the wrong skills or the culture of the organisation does not motivate and inspire.

“We need organisations with a strong purpose which are empowering people for the future. It is not just about the technology – attracting the right talent is the most important thing. The challenge is how to attract this talent. You need the right culture to enable talent to thrive; traditional hierarchies are not conducive to innovation and the faster you can adapt the better.”

Data is only useful of you have it all in one place, analyse it, and by finding patterns you gain insight which allows you to find out not only what is happening but why, and then gives you the ability to make predictions and take action. “When I build AI solutions they usually have at least these three components – data, insight and action,” says Daniel.

Computers are usually very effective at finding patterns but not so good at adaptive decision-making and solving optimisation problems. This is because they understand what is happening but not why. “Computers can study masses of data and solve some problems in seconds, such as planning a delivery route. The point is that understanding is not what the computer does – people are needed to understand what the data means.

“And when we build the brain that is smarter than us it may remove us from the equation if we are not working together.”

If you give a machine the task of eradicating cancer it may well decide that to do that you need to kill all humans. We have to give machines the right objectives and constraints