New hire to revamp National Trust’s digital infrastructure

| 22nd Sep 14

The National Trust has hired Tom Barker, formerly of the BBC’s digital lab project, to pour a recent £40 million investment into a complete overhaul of the charity’s digital infrastructure.

The new head of digital admitted that the responsibility of revamping the charity’s website, app, and other digital offerings will be his biggest challenge of 2014.

This is an organisation with 5,000 staff and 60,000 volunteers and it has a huge range of different offerings, so providing a digital infrastructure to support all of those elements is a big ask,” said Barker. “But I think it’s one they’ve got the right people and partners in place to deliver, but it is a significant undertaking.”

While the design of the new website and app are well underway, the charity will look to new technologies and innovation in the digital space, such as beacons, only once the overhaul is completed and fully functional. The National Trust will place a huge focus on offering its members and supporters relevant, personalised information based on previous behaviour and also location.

Barker notes that despite the future plans for innovation, for the sake of their members and supporters they are not rushing into the implementation of new technology for the sake of it.

“We are a charity at the end of the day and we have to make sure we’re accountable for every penny we spend,” he said. “This is a huge, very relevant and very important investment that the organisation is making.”

“I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves because we’ve got to get the foundations right first,” he added.

Barker replaces Howard Scott as head of digital, who was acting as a consultant for the National Trust. Scott will leave in mid-October to focus on his consultancy business.