BBC Radio Chris Evans Salesforce

Case study: How BBC used cloud technology to power short story competition into the clouds


By The Drum Team | Editorial

April 24, 2012 | 5 min read

This case study highlights how BBC Radio 2 implemented cloud computing technology for its Chris Evans Breakfast Show 500 WORDS competition. The BBC appointed CloudSense to implement the technology, which has enabled the BBC to automate the entry process for its literacy contest, streamline its management of the competition and helped reduce its environmental footprint.

Originality is the lifeblood of the BBC and it aims to be the most creative organisation in the world. To support this objective, BBC Radio 2 teamed up with Hay Fever, part of the Hay Festival of Arts and Literature group, to launch the Chris Evans Breakfast Show 500 WORDS competition. The contest is open to anyone aged 13 years or younger and aimed at inspiring the next generation of writers by asking entrants to submit a short story of 500 words online. The entries are initially judged by teachers and librarians and top stories from the first judging round go through to the National Literacy Trust which selects fifty finalists to attend the Telegraph Hay Festival in June as special guests. At the event, finalists get the opportunity to watch Chris Evans broadcast his BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show live and discover the competition winners as voted by leading children’s authors including Dame Jacqueline Wilson, David Walliams, Lauren Child, Andy Stanton and Charlie Higson.ChallengesThe 500 WORDS competition has been incredibly successful to date and last year the BBC received 30,000 entries. Following the initial success, the BBC is committed to driving awareness of this year’s project with an extensive advertising campaign across its online, TV and social channels. However, the BBC recognised that with more people entering the contest it needed to transform its business processes to more effectively manage the rise in applications. Simon Gowland, project manager at the BBC comments: “Last year we had a semi-manual process in place that required a lot of administrative support. Entries were tracked on an access database and on a protected computer which only certain people had access to. In addition, entries had to be printed and sent to individual judges for marking. Radio 2 needed to optimise its processes for handling the management of the competition and implement a more agile solution that would streamline the entry process to reduce the time spent on manual data entry while ensuring that strict data protection requirements were adhered to.”DeploymentThe BBC chose to introduce technology to automate its workflow management. The BBC employed CloudSense to apply its expert knowledge of IT integration and provide a high-level consultancy service to support the implementation of CloudSense worked closely with the BBC to identify its business requirements and develop an understanding of the competition’s business operations, its major challenges, project plan, goals, risks and concerns. Using this information, CloudSense was able to develop a structured roadmap that identified how the solution would be used at different points in the competition and what processes would need to be put in place to support the solution. To guarantee that the project was delivered against immovable deadlines for marketing the site, CloudSense developed a comprehensive timeline to ensure a timely implementation. The project involved CloudSense collaborating with to implement a public facing website for competition entrants and an internal web portal for competition moderators. Children submitted stories through publically accessible secure web pages on, and the platform was intelligently designed to uphold competition rules by monitoring the number of words in a story, preventing the duplication of entries and ensuring that the judge and child were not from the same region. Crucially, CloudSense was able to format the site functionality to ensure that the BBC met secure protocols for data submission and protected the privacy of children and judges. ResultsThe BBC received double the amount of entries for this year’s 500 WORDS competition, numbers that would have been difficult to manage using last year’s semi-manual approach. The new platform has allowed the BBC to transform its business processes by automating entries, substantially reducing the amount of time needed to carry out administrative tasks. For example, instead of printing individual entries and mailing them to judges, the BBC has introduced an online portal where judges can login and mark stories. This removes the printing and packaging costs that were previously associated with the competition and has the added benefit of reducing the organisation’s environmental footprint. Combining the scalability and speed of with the expert knowledge of CloudSense’s cloud consulting service has allowed the BBC to streamline its management of the competition. In addition, having CloudSense experts on hand to provide support ensures the smooth-running of the project and means the BBC is able to respond quickly to user queries. Simon Gowland comments: “We now have an established platform in place that allows Radio 2 to run the competition efficiently, easily respond to any issues and reduce the amount of internal resource invested in managing the competition. By working with CloudSense we have successfully automated the entry and marking processes in a secure manner that protects the identities of all parties involved.”
BBC Radio Chris Evans Salesforce

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The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters are at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London.

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