When building a platform around your customers’ needs, you must also make sure you create a framework that can adapt to meet future challenges. To ensure long-term impact, one great method is to implement scalable platforms. However, making sure that the mix of elements (such as ecosystems) is just right can prove to be quite a challenge. That’s why planning for scalability right at the start of the project is key, so here’s how we approached it for United for Wildlife.
Created by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, United for Wildlife is an organization fighting illegal wildlife trade in order to prevent critically endangered species from being wiped out. And while they believe raising awareness about the issue is important, they wanted to do more than that by taking a more proactive role in protecting wildlife. They asked us to develop a platform that would make it easier to reach important decision makers, like CEO's, PR and those that actually deal with the issues--each in their own language (level) and needs. The curated and created content would included downloads, copy, presentations, and a Risk Calculator. We realized that since Taskforce Wildlife was gathering so much data, an API from the Risk Calculator could be built.
That’s why Tim Wittig at United for Wildlife developed a way to scrape data from trustworthy online sources indicating which areas and/or transports have the highest risk for illegal wildlife transport. The issue with this was that they hadn’t found a way that would allow them to make such huge amounts of data available to reach different audience groups. Thus, the challenge for this project was to design and develop a scalable platform to share data, identify a business model and automate the process. This platform would help the Wildlife Taskforce of United for Wildlife share data such as documentation, photos, files, alerts and red flags to inform and take action where needed.
Building the data platform
As building a scalable platform requires long-term thinking, microservices is the answer to staying flexible to new changes. Microservices are less restricting than a monolithic architecture and work together perfectly with an agile approach. Additionally, each service can be reused and altered without disrupting the whole architecture, meaning that when new and useful technology comes in, it’ll be easy to implement.
United for Wildlife would have big amounts of data and assets once the platform was up and running; they knew that cloud services like Contentful would be the most suitable option to store, manage and process their data. That’s because with cloud computing you don’t have to worry about hardware and security, but most importantly because it allows flexibility. Depending on the needs, the bandwidth can be scaled up or down easily. And while this was part of the solution, we still had to figure out how we could turn the platform into a business.
Developing for scalability is all about finding solutions which will grow and adapt together with the company. The aim of this project was to design and develop a platform to share data, which we did by implementing Contentful, Auth0, Search Engine (built by Edenspiekermann) and Heroku. However, our collaboration with United for Wildlife is ongoing and we’ll be there to support them in the following steps. For example, we’ll also help them implement tools (e.g. Leadboxer) to enrich user data with more information on behavior and profiles so we can optimize the platform.
Building the business model
That’s where the use of APIs comes in. We noticed that the big amounts of data could not only be useful to send alerts, but also to inform companies who could benefit from knowing where they could intervene before an incident. The best way to provide this information is through an API, which companies can add to their own system; this way they can receive and view the updates in their own digital environment, in a manner that suits their business best. With the help of APIs, companies can insert the trajectory of their transport and as output, receive information about how risky the transport will be and what they can do in that specific situation to prevent wildlife trade.
We’ve noticed that developing and building for scalability remains a consistent issue for many businesses and organizations, as it is much easier to build products and solutions that are “ready to go” for immediate use only. However, future-proofing your platforms by utilizing long-term thinking to create scalable platforms will allow you to adapt essential technology without your services grinding to a total halt. By using API-first solutions such as Contentful and Auth0, as well as other microservices, we were able to allow United for Wildlife to implement an actionable platform that they can continue to scale up as they continue to grow and tweak their business model. At Edenspiekermann, we help you (re)design new business models and business concepts; build prototypes; and implement, test and refine towards a scalable digital product. In other words: we follow the data. And crucially, we help take your business to the next level.
What are the results? Electric brand experiences. True customer-centricity. And new, unparalleled accelerated growth.