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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert
Find out the key takeaways from my conversation with Taronga Conservation Society Australia about their digitization journey

What do you get when you combine a 100-year-plus organization, a wildlife conservation mission, and the search for process optimization?

An outstanding digital transformation story for the benefit for hundreds of employees and thousands of animals across hundreds of species.

This episode of Better Together: Customer Conversations features the world-renowned Taronga Conservation Society Australia (Taronga). It began as the Taronga Zoo in 1916 and has developed into a robust research, education, and conservation society.

As a government-owned non-profit organization, all profits earned through Taronga’s zoo admissions, accommodations, events, and donations go directly into the care and conservation of wildlife. To maximize its impact and optimize its resources, Taronga is dedicated to ensuring its operations are as efficient as possible.

The organization had been facing challenges in two key areas: staff processes and analytics systems. Manual paper-based processes for HR, finance, procurement, and guest experience took staff away from wildlife efforts. Time-consuming manual reporting, error-prone data collection across systems, and a lack of real-time insights made it difficult for executives to make quick and precise decisions. Taronga decided to streamline its operational processes and analytics framework.

Bourne Digital helped Taronga leveraged SAP BTP to create the Stax Staff Experience Application, which unified procurement, HR, IT service requests, and more.

On the executive side, Taronga and Bourne Digital used SAP Analytics Cloud to develop a sole source of data truth. The new system united data from disparate systems, standardized their data, and delivered the real-time visibility they needed to make quick and precise decisions.

On this episode, Mark Kemp, Project Manager, IT Team, Taronga Conservation Society Australia, joins us to discuss Taronga’s digital transformation.

David Jensen, Coordinator, Digital Transformation, UN Environment Programme, shares his insights and expertise about the invaluable intersection of innovation and conservation.

  • Podcast: I join Mark Kemp and David Jensen for a discussion about innovation in conservation. We examine Taronga’s recent digitalization journey and explore the role of technology in sustainable development.

  • LinkedIn conversation: Mark and I take a deep dive into the project design and implementation process. He outlines Taronga’s next steps, and shares advice for the audience.

Here are some key takeaways from our conversations:

The intersection of technology and conservation

Mark shared his first-hand experiences on how wildlife conservation can benefit from digital innovation, “Any sort of efficiency in terms of reporting does save time. So, it also allows for better-informed decisions as well, because the numbers coming in are as close to real-time as we can get.” And to sum it up, “ saved and then redirected into conservation and science efforts.”

David shared his expert insights, “I see enterprise solutions as a major champion for digital sustainability. I think we are never going to hit the kind of transformations we need unless enterprise solutions are part of the solution.”

Consult your end-users

Mark mentioned how helpful it was to ask for regular feedback from the technology’s end-users. “They’re the ones that know the data the best, and do the reporting,” he said, “ it makes sense to have them with you throughout the entire duration of the project.”

He kept an open channel of communication between the IT team and the executive suite, who would be the end users of the analytics technology, to ensure that the framework would capture the right information. “We had that kind of small feedback loop happening for the project, which was quite successful for us,” he said.

David echoed this, saying “Understand their needs, develop the product, get feedback, iterate, continue the cycle, and continue to scale it. I think that’s critical. If you start to build a platform without an understanding of who your users are, you will fail.”

Take a practical approach

David recognized the importance of beginning the design process in the right place. In our podcast conversation he advised listeners to “focus specifically on a problem you’re trying to solve.”

He explained that it’s essential to consider the real-world application of the technology and recommends asking questions like ‘How will this technology benefit people?’ and ‘How will it benefit the environment?’ to keep the project grounded in a practical and human-centered approach.

“Don’t start with the technology, start with the problem, and understand how the technology can solve that problem,” he said. “If you can get that right, you should be able to build an incredible product.”


Simplify your design

Mark also highlighted the benefits of a streamlined user experience. “We put a lot of thought into the design and the UX and simplifying the dashboards,” he said, “which is why the exec and management teams keep using them, and they want to scale them further.”

He acknowledged that this was difficult to do at the beginning of the project when the goal was to incorporate as much information into the framework as possible. But the team recognized that “...paying attention generally to the design of the reporting systems and dashboards as well will keep people wanting to use them.”

Focusing on the simplicity with the user experience meant creating a more user-friendly tool, which was their goal.

“I’m particularly proud of that project because we did put a lot of thought into the user experience,” Mark said.

Tune in

Taronga used digitization to drive conservation, build organizational strength, and inspire guests. Through digital transformation, Taronga is fulfilling its mission of securing a shared future for wildlife and people.

Tune in to hear more, and check out these additional stories about streamlining data for increased efficiencies and sustainability:

  • Natura: Keeping Customers and the Planet Beautiful with Help from Intelligent IT

  • NEOM: Building a Futuristic, Cognitive Urban Area That Reimagines Urban Life

To find all our Better Together: Customer Conversations, visit I’m always interested in hearing from you; let me know which topics you would like us to discuss further. If you would like to be a guest on a future episode, please contact us.