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Green Flag Undergoes Digital Transformation Using AWS

2020

Green Flag increases business agility—for example, developing a chatbot feature in less than 2 weeks—by transforming its IT using AWS. The company provides vehicle rescue services in the UK. For the chatbot, Green Flag uses Amazon Connect and Amazon Lex with code running in AWS Lambda and data in Amazon DynamoDB.

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Using AWS, we have the foundation to be a more agile, innovative business.”

Jez Bristow
Chief Product Manager, Green Flag

Roadside Rescue Since 1971

Green Flag, a subsidiary of Direct Line Group, provides vehicle rescue services in the UK to approximately 3.5 million customers. Launched in 1971, Green Flag rescues around 2,000 vehicles a day. The company is a challenger brand to bigger rivals such as the Automobile Association (AA) and the RAC. Its aim is to grow its customer base not only in traditional vehicle rescue services but also in areas such as vehicle servicing and repairs.

Driving Digital Transformation

“To increase market share, we want to deliver great service,” says Dean Keeling, managing director of Green Flag. “We need to delight our customers, so if we have an idea for a new service that we think will add value, we want to get it to market as soon as possible.” The company’s legacy on-premises infrastructure didn’t support that goal. The existing system architecture was complex and coded in a way that made it inflexible to develop.

“Our IT capabilities were way behind what we required, so we needed to digitally transform our operations,” says Keeling. “We wanted to change our architecture to improve the efficiency of development processes and start building applications faster than our competitors. We also wanted an ecosystem of digital microservices that we could pick from for each development project. By using the cloud, we would gain the tooling for that ecosystem off-the-shelf rather than having to build it from scratch.”

Cloud Provides the Solution

Green Flag analyzed potential cloud providers to deliver its digital strategy before choosing Amazon Web Services (AWS). Shakeel Butt, technology and delivery lead at Green Flag, says, “We selected AWS over other cloud providers because of the flexibility of the cost model as well as the maturity of its services. Also, I’d worked with AWS in a previous role at Direct Line Group and I knew we’d get the services and support we needed.”

Building New Features Becomes Easier

As an initial step in the transformation process, the company migrated its mission-critical Oracle database to the cloud. Green Flag worked with AWS Partner Network (APN) partner Contino to migrate the system to a cloud-native architecture. This would remove data siloes and make it easy to extract data for web and mobile applications. Says Jez Bristow, chief product manager of Green Flag, “It will be much easier to build features into our mobile app that will delight customers.

For example, giving customers real-time visibility of where the rescue vehicle is and its estimated time of arrival—as well as the name and a picture of the individual who’s coming to rescue them. From the same mobile app, we will glean richer, more granular data in real-time that will help us prioritize improvements and make data-driven decisions to enhance user experiences.”

Introducing Chatbots for Callers

Not every Green Flag customer, however, wants to communicate via a mobile app—many prefer to talk over the phone. Green Flag wanted to automate responses using a chatbot to reduce waiting times and free call-center staff to deal with more complex emergencies and queries.

“This wouldn’t have been possible with the on-premises system,” says Butt. “But with the digital ecosystem of microservices that we were developing on AWS, we could stitch the AWS services together and deliver the functionality.”

Off-the-Shelf AWS Services, Less Than 2 Week Delivery

The company avoided the cost of building a chatbot platform to integrate with its existing call-center systems. It did so by linking Amazon Connect, an omnichannel cloud contact center, to its call-center systems and integrating an existing microservices-based chat feature that runs on the Green Flag mobile app.

The microservice has no server provisioning overheads because it uses AWS Lambda to run and scale code. Plus, to ensure low latency for message responses, the application uses Amazon DynamoDB, a fast and flexible NoSQL database service. For the call center chatbot, however, Green Flag needed an interface that mimicked the human voice.

Rather than having to build one from the ground up, the company chose Amazon Lex, a service for creating conversational interfaces, and integrated it with the microservice, which it then attached to Amazon Connect. “It took us less than 2 weeks to launch our chatbot capability using AWS—and that was while fitting in development work for other projects,” says Butt.

Enabling a FinTech Culture

To free up as much resource for service development as possible, Green Flag wants to go entirely serverless on the AWS Cloud. One goal is to save time writing repeated code by using AWS Step Functions. These let customers coordinate multiple AWS services into serverless workflows. “Soon enough, through services such as AWS Step Functions, we’ll be moving our IT from a great place to an amazing place,” says Butt.

To date, Green Flag has made significant progress in migrating its infrastructure to the cloud. Using AWS, its developers now have access to technology that allows them to concentrate on building new applications and features that continually improve the customer experience. The company can take ideas, turn them into proof of concepts, and, if they fly, iterate on those concepts to design, develop, and test faster than ever before. “Using AWS, we have the foundation to be a more agile, innovative business—we’re well on the way to becoming like the Uber of rescue services,” says Bristow.


About Green Flag

Green Flag, part of Direct Line Group, provides vehicle rescue services to approximately 3.5 million customers in the UK.

Benefits of AWS

  • Ensures business agility
  • Supports internet and app services development
  • Enables chatbot delivery in less than 2 weeks
  • Allows focus on development through serverless services

AWS Services Used

Amazon Connect

Amazon Connect is an easy to use omnichannel cloud contact center that helps companies provide superior customer service at a lower cost.

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AWS Lambda

AWS Lambda lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers. You pay only for the compute time you consume.

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Amazon DynamoDB

Amazon DynamoDB is a key-value and document database that delivers single-digit millisecond performance at any scale. It's a fully managed, multiregion, multimaster, durable database with built-in security, backup and restore, and in-memory caching for internet-scale applications.

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Amazon Lex

Amazon Lex is a service for building conversational interfaces into any application using voice and text. 

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