News UK appoints Red Badger for Sun Savers app

05 October 2018

British-headquartered digital consultancy Red Badger has been appointed to redesign and enhance the Sun Savers app by News UK. The app was launched just over one year ago, already hosting more than 600,000 users, and aims to save readers money via codes printed in UK daily The Sun.

Red Badger is a UK-based digital transformation and technology consultancy. The firm focuses on clients in the retail, media and financial services sectors, including several of the UK's larger retail banks. Earlier in 2018 it was named one of the fastest growing management consulting firms in Europe, and now as the firm looks to build on its upward trajectory, it has been contracted to help redesign a successful app on behalf of the UK and Ireland wing of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

News UK launched Sun Savers in 2017, linked to daily paper The Sun, and since then the platform has proven popular among the tabloid’s readership. Users can use the app to earn cash back when they collect unique codes printed in The Sun, and at time of writing this has saved some 600,000 users a total of more than £2 million.

News UK appoints Red Badger for Sun Savers app

Now, as Sun Savers looks to kick on from its early success, the Red Badger team will work to improve its usability, as well as to enable new customer-centric features for the app. The product development phase for this commenced in July 2018, with a view to go live at the end of 2018. The new interface will see market leading open source technology, such as React Native, React Native Web, GraphQL, Docker, Terraform, and AWS cloud technologies, used to bolster the project, while The Sun’s team will be empowered to more easily manage content, promotions and automate key parts of the journey.

Commenting on the project, Red Badger’s Managing Director, Ben McLeod said, “We’re delighted to be working on this hugely popular product with News UK. The work we’re doing will make it easier to use for both readers and the marketing team as they aim to grow their loyalty scheme.”

News UK’s Head of Loyalty Justine Salter, added, “Red Badger were chosen because of their design and build capability, their knowledge of React Native and collaborative ways of working.”

The scheme is aimed at incentivising loyalty among purchasers of the paper by offering £5 to readers every time they provide 28 unique codes or proofs of purchase. In 2017 when it launched, sales of The Sun had dwindled by 10.5% to 1.6 million copies per day – as part of a trend across the print media which has seen traditional publications rapidly losing readership thanks largely to digital competition. Meanwhile, as brand loyalty has fallen away in recent years, companies have sought to battle this by offering tailored loyalty strategies – and the Sun Savers app is an example of exactly that.

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How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.