Changing the face of men’s health

Movember, a charity that started in Australia, is one of the world’s leading charities for men’s health, providing fundraising, events, information, and support for mental health, prostate cancer and testicular cancer to men all over the world. Men on average die five years earlier than women from preventable causes, and 75% of all suicides are men. Since starting to spread the word in 2003, Movember has become an important voice in men’s health issues, with more than 5 million Mo Bros and Mo Sisters around the world having supported the charity on their mission to change the face of men’s health.

Running an international charity that handles donations, data, events, and localised websites in 21 countries can pose some technical challenges. Born in the cloud, Movember has leveraged AWS technology in adopting new working models, ensuring a flexible IT platform, and innovating faster.

The Movember campaign is a single month each year where men around the world raise money by growing their moustaches, sharing their progress, stories and raising awareness of men’s health issues. 80% of their annual fundraising income is generated in this month. Fortunately, the scalability of the AWS Cloud, makes it achievable and cost effective, which is important for any charitable organization.

“We don’t have a big technical team,” said Tahir Tanveer, Chief Information Officer at Movember, “Our biggest challenge is the need to quickly scale up and down, and the AWS Cloud platform allows us to innovate and rapidly scale new ideas.”

Five teams, three challenges, “mo” problems

The AWS Guild for Good Hackathon bought together a group of people with different expertise in a concentrated effort to innovate and find solutions to challenges that have been holding an organization back. This one-day event saw cloud champions (experienced cloud professionals) from National Australia Bank, Sportsbet, Bendigo & Adelaide Bank, and the Kmart group join cloud experts from AWS and key members of the Movember product team, to tackle the charity’s identified key challenges.

When it comes to innovation, the Movember team is full of ideas about how they could use digital experiences to engage men on health issues, and ultimately save lives. However, their largely product-centric team doesn’t always possess the necessary cloud expertise and experience to design and build the solutions themselves on AWS.

“This is very meaningful for us,” says Tahir, “For a nonprofit, it can be challenging to acquire talent, especially those with specialist cloud skills. Through the hackathon, our people were exposed to new technologies and thinking. Plus, we will be working on innovative ideas that could go all the way to production. Doing good and having fun – that’s what Movember is all about.”

The hackathon gave the teams three challenges to work on. Each team had to ideate, design, and implement a proof of concept which they then pitched to the entire cohort with a presentation and demonstration of the solution in action.

In keeping with the Movember fund-raising boom, their data showed that people tend to engage with the charity for a short time only. The first challenge, “Keep on coming back”, aimed to address this. The second challenge, “The one-stop-shop”, raised the issue that men historically seek help on just one topic, when in fact Movember offers support across a range of men’s health subjects. Finally, “Future state” challenged teams to consider what’s next for Movember, specifically what digital opportunities exist to improve the quality and effectiveness of their engagement with their audience.

Broken out into separate rooms, and armed with laptops, whiteboards, and a steady flow of snacks, teams ideated their solutions, then explored the cloud services that could help make their ideas a reality by the end of the day.

One winner, huge potential

Movember Hackathon Winners

In the pitch presentations, it was clear the teams had outdone themselves with the creativity of their ideas and the rapid construction of proof of concepts. The solutions to the challenges put forward were ambitious and innovative, and ranged from solving data dilemmas to improving customer engagement using Alexa, and even gamification of health awareness issues using augmented reality. Each idea went beyond the conceptual, with working versions of all solutions built for the presentations.

The winning team devised a Web 3.0-inspired idea which would both create a new potential revenue stream for Movember, and also generate more publicity - a Movember NFT marketplace. An NFT, or non-fungible token, is a block-chain-verified unique digital item, which can have immense value to a collector. Jack Dorsey made headlines around the world when an NFT of his first ever Tweet was sold for almost US$3 million. Picture Daniel Craig, or even Barack Obama growing a crazy moustache in support of the charity, then auctioning off an NFT of their Movember image to raise money. The results could be very impactful for Movember, both financially, and in terms of publicity for their cause.

Where to from here?

“The work done today will make a difference to people’s lives,” Tahir says, “People get busy, so putting aside time for this is absolutely critical. I’m very grateful for the support, and really inspired by AWS. Not just the business, but also the culture. Movember and AWS are aligned on our customer-centricity.”

Team members and organizers alike were exhilarated by the day, and excited by the results as they shared some social time after the winning team was announced. In a day all about solutions, it’s shown that one day can make a big difference to the future of the charity, and the people they are striving to help.