our report on the 2012
TechSoup Global NGO Cloud Survey in September; we've now had
several months to consider the findings and talk to some of you about what you
In this post, I'll share our thoughts on what should be done next. This post is the first of a series. Find the second in the series here, and the third here.
Our survey found that current usage of the
cloud among survey respondents was very high, with 90 percent of respondents
indicating they use at least one cloud-based service. While usage varies by region, the
range is relatively narrow, with a high of 93 percent in Australia/New Zealand and
USA/Canada and a low of 83 percent in India.
And although NGO current use of the cloud seems
superficial, we were surprised to find that just 9 percent of respondents to our
survey were only using a "light" cloud app, which included office productivity
apps. It turns out that NGOs are trying out an array of cloud services.
Here's what we think about this. For the global NGO sector, cloud computing
has arrived. People are familiar with it and using it, at a minimum, in a lightweight way.
The large response to our survey (more than 10,500 NGO responses from 88 countries
and in 21 languages) indicates that there is strong interest among NGOs to
find out more about cloud technology.
We hope that cloud computing companies
will take note — the NGO sector, which comprises roughly 5 percent of the world's GDP,
is interested in finding cloud-based solutions to address their IT challenges.
survey found that while cloud usage among NGOs is widespread, it is
not deep yet. Thirty-five percent of respondents said that they were using only one
or two types of cloud apps.
We found that NGOs are first adopting cloud
services that include online email, office productivity apps, data
backup/storage apps, social networking, telephone/voice services, and email
thoughts on this are as follows.
There is plenty
of room for NGOs to move more of their IT functions to cloud services. Most
NGOs may be starting with light cloud services like Facebook or Gmail, but a
significant number of respondents reported using at least one heavier cloud
service like data backup and storage.
Our view is that the already strong
interest among NGOs in trying out cloud services is a good thing. It also
heralds a game change in nonprofit technology.
According to TechSoup Global’s
Dan Webb on Microsoft
Technet,"Cloud computing is the next frontier for NGOs. It changes what’s
possible for organizations on the ground."
Global’s co-CEO, Rebecca Masisak says, "As our world becomes
increasingly connected, mobilized, and digitized, cloud computing has
significant potential to transform social benefit work.
programs can become the nexus of networks with a closeness and engagement from
constituents never before possible. Benefits of lower costs, operational
excellence, and ability to innovate can be within the grasp of even the smallest
NGO or nascent civil society project in the hands of a connected social
to see more and more technology vendors offering cloud-based versions of their
products. We recognize that these vendors are actively encouraging users
to select the cloud-based versions of their software.
Given these shifts, we think it's likely that many organizations will need to make decisions about whether
cloud-based solutions are right for them. TechSoup Global's goal is to empower
NGOs worldwide to make informed decisions about technology adoption, and this
includes making decisions about cloud-based technologies.
We also believe
having information about the current state of NGO cloud computing, NGOs' plans for cloud adoption, and the challenges they face will help TechSoup
Global and other organizations better support and advocate on behalf of the
We regard our survey as a first step in
assessing the needs of NGOs.
To quote Marnie Webb, co-CEO of TechSoup Global, "We need to know more about the technology usage of the
organizations we all serve. We all know bits and pieces of the usage. And
surveys, like this one, and also like NTEN’s State of the
Cloud, help us. But we can also do a better job of thinking through the
strengths and capacities we each bring, fitting those together so that we can
get to solutions that work on the ground for the organizations we serve.
to do that in the TechSoup Global Network. We don’t always succeed. I’m not
asking for a big giant enforced collaboration project here. I’m asking that we
actually find three tangible projects that we can move forward in the next year
to help us bring a greater degree of technology savvy and support to the
organizations we are dedicated to helping."
TechSoup Global’s Dan Webb (no relation to
Marnie) adds, "Taken together, we feel that the we — and by we I mean TechSoup
Global, our worldwide network, and every capacity builder, funder, and
technology expert who works in this field — can do more to make the cloud even
"We need to fully understand the business processes of the organizations
we serve. And we need to build solutions that meet the needs of organizations
and, as much as possible, meet them where they are."
our exploration of our 2012
TechSoup Global NGO Cloud Survey results and what to do next. We welcome your thoughts!
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
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