ECB: Improving customer experiences by leveraging the power of Okta
apps integrated with Okta Single Sign-On across the ECB digital ecosystem
increase in user registration completion
access supported for unique users across a portfolio of services within the first 18 months
- Modernising a historic institution
- Understanding customers better
- Running a proof of concept
- Rapid growth and expansion
- Optimising experiences with data
England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) was formed in 1997 to unify roles formerly fulfilled by the Test and County Cricket Board, the National Cricket Association and the Cricket Council. This brought with it several technological challenges, particularly when it came to handling data and understanding the way ECB customers interact with the services it offers.
ECB began to build a data lake to provide a single customer view, as part of its digital transformation journey. It worked with an Identity and Access Management (IAM) solution to overcome the challenges it faced but realised Okta would be a better fit for its needs and decided to migrate across.
Working with Okta partner Atlas Identity, ECB used the launch of a new format of cricket - The Hundred - to test out Okta’s capabilities in practice. It deployed Okta Single Sign-On to facilitate a secure, user-friendly login experience that remains compliant when it comes to users understanding the consent they are giving in terms of the access right of the various apps used by ECB.
Due to the limited nature of the POC, ECB originally aimed to deploy 200,000 email licences for users in its first year of working with Okta. Due to the popularity of The Hundred, and the success of Okta in enabling its registration and ticketing system, however, this quickly expanded to more than 1 million licences.
In the second phase of this journey, planned for mid-2023, ECB hopes to further optimise its offering, taking advantage of the benefits of scale that Okta has afforded. It hopes to work even more closely with data to personalise experiences delivered to individual customers, as well as experiment with new marketing technologies to automate a lot of these journeys.
We don't have any developers internally, we outsource everything, so we needed a partner like Atlas Identity who could do all of that for us. They really took the pain out of that process, and the costs for onboarding new applications have been reduced significantly as a result.
Rachel Robinson, Senior Digital Product Manager, ECB
- 7- minutes it took Okta to rapidly increase licences to meet customer demand
- 13 - key applications integrated with Okta Single Sign-On across the ECB digital ecosystem
- 66% - increase in user registration completion
- 1 million - access supported for unique users across a portfolio of services within the first 18 months
Modernising an institution with a history as rich as the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is no easy task. The services it offers to fans and players of the sport have grown in scope and scale in the decades since 1997, when it was formed to unify roles formerly fulfilled by the Test and County Cricket Board, the National Cricket Association and the Cricket Council. But this growth had brought with it technological challenges, particularly when it came to handling data and understanding the way ECB customers interact with the services it offers.
Over the past six years, ECB has been on a data transformation journey that has seen it begin to build a data lake to provide a single customer view. The intention was to break down the barriers between various silos of information, to provide a more frictionless experience for users. ECB knew it needed an Identity and Access Management (IAM) solution to overcome the challenges it faced but, having worked with a third-party provider, it realised it needed a platform that better suited its needs. ECB decided that Okta offered the best products to meet its ambitions.
“We knew we had lots of disparate systems and different types of people that were interacting with ECB services, whether they’re a fan, player, coach or member of staff,” explains Graham Reid, Head of Technology at ECB. “We needed to join them together to identify each person as an individual and link up all the data we have on them. Our real challenge came with our registration processes, which require different information and previously involved various legacy systems and applications that were difficult to integrate. Okta quickly understood our challenges and was able to offer us the technical solutions we needed to solve them.”
Working with Atlas Identity
As part of this process, ECB turned to Okta partner Atlas Identity to help get the most out of Okta. A big part of this focused on the challenges of designing and setting up registration processes to ensure the best possible journey for ECB customers. The timing coincided with a new cricket format, The Hundred, launched by ECB over the Summer of 2021. So the organisation decided to use this opportunity as a proof of concept (POC) for the wider changes it hoped to implement with Okta, via a new website and ticketing portal. It deployed Okta Single Sign-On to facilitate a secure, user-friendly login experience that remains compliant when it comes to users understanding the consent they are giving in terms of the access right of the various apps used by ECB.
“When we started The Hundred, we were able to get everything up and running really quickly with the help of Atlas Identity,” adds Senior Digital Product Manager, Rachel Robinson. “We don't have any developers internally, we outsource everything, so we needed a partner like Atlas who could do all of that for us. They really took the pain out of that process, and the costs for onboarding new applications have been reduced significantly as a result. We have seen a 50% reduction in SSO onboarding costs and costs continue to reduce based on efficiencies in the onboarding process as Atlas becomes more and more familiar with ECB business architecture, resulting in quicker to market rollouts.”
Expanding Okta usage
ECB has now integrated 13 applications across the ECB Digital ecosystem that power its services, including the Secutix ticketing system used for The Hundred, as well as a variety of internal applications. Integrating Secutix with Okta was important for ECB, as it meant that visitors to The Hundred site receive the same experience when they log in, whether that’s to purchase tickets or simply access extra information that’s available.
“The Hundred registration and ticketing system has been a great success,” Rachel continues. “So we decided to roll out Okta across our portfolio. Within a few minutes, we can understand who is accessing our services and how. It means we can quickly understand how a campaign is going and we’ve been able to improve experiences across our portfolio. And, when it comes to strategic implementations, the reality is that Atlas Identity manages everything on our behalf, which makes our jobs a lot easier.”
Following the successes seen with The Hundred POC, ECB decided to expand its use of Okta across the rest of its services, including the main ECB website, its online store, and wider ticketing systems. ECB originally aimed to deploy 200,000 email licences for users in its first year of working with Okta but, due to the popularity of the project, these licences ran out after just three months and quickly grew to more than 1 million unique users within the 18 months. All of this took place against the backdrop of the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, with Atlas Identity helping to negotiate rate increases and explain the implications of doing so. It’s also leveraging Universal Directory to ensure a single source of truth across ECB products and services.
“In the very early days of deploying for The Hundred, we weren’t really sure what the demand would be like,” says Stephen Williams, Founder and Managing Director of Atlas Identity. “As a SaaS platform, Okta is infinitely scalable so, when user demand was way in excess of our predictions, Okta was effectively able to turn up the volume to meet demand within seven minutes. Rather than having to worry about physical servers and capacity planning, we were able to significantly increase customer limits almost instantly. And Okta has been extremely flexible when it’s come to sudden spikes in user demand. ECB usage is capped at 300 requests per minute and we had one occasion where this leapt to 8,000. Rather than cut off service, Okta just handled it and flagged it with us.”
The Hundred is currently the ECB’s most important commercial property, so factors such as service levels and service reliability are particularly important here. But these are also vital measures across the ECB estate. And, thanks to the ease of flow data capture that Okta has provided, ECB has been able to measure the impacts of its decisions on the customer journeys to make sure they are providing the best possible experience.
ECB has already seen a number of benefits to this approach, particularly in the financial benefits of economies of scale and ensuring reliable delivery of its services. This has seen an increase in the number of customers who complete the registration process, by boosting what Graham terms the ‘stickiness’ of this functionality. Now, 66% of people complete registration, compared to around 30% before Okta. ECB puts this down to the single point of access for a variety of apps that Okta offers, as well as customisations to fit the needs of different brands within the group and the devices being used to access services.
“It's about joining together the whole of ECB and what we offer,” says Graeme. “So, whether you're a player, a fan, or a coach, the experience is the same, and just as quick and easy. That's where we wanted to be when we started working with Okta, rather than having disparate solutions all doing their own thing.”
Planning for the future
Integrating the entire ECB estate with Okta is just Phase One of the organisation’s plans, which is still taking place. Next on the agenda, ECB is hoping to migrate even more of its internal applications to Okta from its original IAM provider. In phase two, planned for mid-2023, ECB hopes to further optimise its offering, taking advantage of the benefits of scale that Okta has afforded.
In particular, ECB hopes to work even more closely with data and optimise what it calls journey orchestration. This involves increasing the personalised experiences delivered to individual customers. It’s also hoping to experiment with new marketing technologies to automate a lot of these journeys.
“From an internal business culture standpoint, we’ve become a lot more data-driven since working with Okta,” Graeme says. “With Okta rolling out across the whole of our estate, we’ve been able to start having conversations around the iterations and developments that we want to see in the future. And we know that by adopting new tools, we can achieve lots of commercial benefits. Another thing we are looking at is the possibility of membership schemes and identity in the context of loyalty programmes. We’re really excited for what the future of our relationship with Okta will hold.”