Service Improvement through Technology

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

Our Mission is to enhance independence for people with vision loss and to be the leader in promoting vision health.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

CNIB has been a longstanding customer of Microsoft products and TechSoup. CNIB has utilized Microsoft products to transform the way in which we provide services in Canada. Here are five examples of how we have harnessed the power of Microsoft technology to achieve this.

1. CNIB provides all alternate format Library services in Canada. Until 2003, this was an analog service delivered on audio tape. Thanks to our partnership with Microsoft to develop the world’s first digital alternate format library built on Windows Server 2003 (implemented on day of RTM), our customers are now able to choose how they select and receive their preferred books:

  • Streamed through the internet, via our library portals which are built on Microsoft Commerce Server and SQL Server technology
  • Browse the collection on the portal and then choose to have the book (burned on demand) to DAISY CD and mailed within 24 hours
  • Selection via profile or a call to a 1-800 number and then mailed on CD or in Braille

In terms of statistics this translates into:

  • Pre-digital library, a circulation of approximately 975,000 titles per year
  • Compared to statistics for 2008-2009 fiscal year which demonstrate a physical distribution of 950,000 titles and 1,154,000 electronic information items provided, totaling 2,129,000 items delivered to end users.

What does this mean for our customers? There is no need to wait for an available copy of a bestseller to come available for distribution. Pre-2003, library users sometimes waited up to a year for a copy of a best selling novel. Most importantly, through the use of technology, customers have gained:

  • the ability to browse books by listening to part of the book before choosing to stream or select the entire book to be delivered in their preferred format
  • and perhaps more importantly, the privacy and independence to select the books they desire in real time

At the same time as we implemented this new service, we radically improved our DataCentre reporting and reliability via the implementation of the original version of MOM, to manage the monitor the operations of our servers and automated processes such as SQL scripts and backups. Since then we have continued to update our versions of MOM (and SQL) and last year we achieved our KPI goal at 99.999% uptime for our 150 server/two SAN infrastructure.

2. In 2005, through the deployment of SharePoint portals across the organization, we were able to eliminate all local file servers and consolidate all applications and file storage to a single DataCentre. In terms of employee functionality, staff were provided with a single repository for organizational documents as well as team and/or project based sites. All staff were also provided with the functionality of seeing all portals of which they were a member as well as access to their email account via OWA, and more recently RPC over HTTP on their main portal page. This made access to corporate information and applications much easier as the portals became the launch point for everything. We are currently in the process of deploying MOSS to further standardize repositories, add workflow and further functionality to the updated portals as we move forward. We utilized Microsoft planning templates to plan the resourcing and structure of our MOSS infrastructure. As we deploy MOSS, we will be implementing specific repositories, team sites, external-facing sites for our volunteer boards and consumer interaction, required metadata rules and individual storage quotas. We will also be using MOSS as the Content Management System for our web presence.

3. In August, 2007 CNIB participated as a Canadian pilot site for Exchange 2007 Unified Messaging. It revolutionized how our staff gain access to messaging information. Most importantly, for our staff with vision loss, it has increased productivity by at least 60%. Here are some of the benefits:

  • Elimination of an inaccessible flashing indicator for messages
  • Notification of missed calls and the number to call
  • Link to further details and contact options about the caller if they are in the recipient’s address book
  • Ability to control everything in email, calendaring, contacts, etc by phone
  • The order of sequencing of messages is retained, as all contact appears in the Inbox. This can be very relevant information.

4. Also in 2007, we began using Microsoft BizTalk 2006 to move data between two related applications. We then harnessed the real power of BizTalk in 2008, on a broader scale - to provide integration among all database applications, with the goal of creating a single federated view of our constituents. As background, a single constituent of CNIB may have many relationships with the organization such as:

  • Client
  • Staff
  • Volunteer
  • Donor
  • Board Member
  • Library User
  • Newsletter recipient

and would therefore have core demographic and contact data stored in multiple database systems. Added to this complexity, many of our constituents prefer alternate format media for correspondence. We utilize BizTalk to monitor for changes in databases and feed the changes to a constituent database of core demographic information – name, contact information and preferred communication format. We then also update from the source database through the constituent database to other matching constituent records in other databases. This is facilitated by storing source IDs, source of data, and last updated data. This greatly increased the efficiency and reduced cost for correspondence with our constituents.

5. During 2007-2008 CNIB Systems Operations staff successfully developed a new tool for analyzing, segmenting and producing mailing campaigns for our Fund Development department, using Microsoft SQL 2005 ETL. The resulting automated process reduced a task that previously took 2 to 3 weeks down to less than 10 minutes. It runs as an automated workflow, providing input through parameters, resulting in the campaign files for mailing and all of the documentation from request to results. In 2007-2008, we produced approximately 8 to 10 campaigns and utilized some out-sourced components to do so. In 2008-2009, using our custom system, the campaign process was completely in-sourced and due to the agility of the custom tool, we produced 45 mailing campaigns. A significant increase in productivity and revenue! As a charity, we rely primarily on the success of our Fund Development campaigns as our source of revenue, in order to provide service to Canadians with vision loss.

In summary, CNIB relies on our Microsoft Windows platform and software tools to automate and gain efficiencies in how we work, fundraise and provide services to our consumers. Every one of the examples cited above have helped to optimize the delivery of our mission. We greatly appreciate the generosity and support Microsoft provides to us, which in turn enables us to meet our goals.

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery
Project Image
Supporting Work Files
Supporting Work URL