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We released our report on the 2012 TechSoup Global NGO Cloud Survey in September of 2012 and have now had more time to ponder the findings and talk to several of you about what you think of them. This is the third installment in a series of explorations on this. Find the first and second post in this series online.

Like the Pew Internet & American Life Project, we believe that over the next decade most people will access software applications online using several different types of devices rather than depending primarily on tools and information housed on their individual, personal computers.

Now it's time to talk about what we found out about the barriers NGOs have toward wider cloud adoption, and also what NGOs see as the primary advantages to using cloud based services.

What Are the Biggest Barriers to More Widespread NGO Migration to the Cloud?

While security, cost, and Internet access were widely cited as barriers to cloud adoption, lack of knowledge was by far the most widespread barrier. Lack of knowledge was cited by 86 percent of the global respondents as either a major or minor barrier. Lack of knowledge was consistently cited as a barrier across geographies and organization sizes. Further, 30 percent of respondents said they did not know enough about cloud computing to know what the barriers are.

Our Thoughts on This

A part of TechSoup Global's longtime mission and practices has been to increase IT knowledge in the NGO sector. We publish articles, blog pieces, newsletters, web content, and conduct trainings and webinars every day across our network. It is glib to say that we'll simply continue to do this work and that it will answer the needs of NGOs for the knowledge they need to make the successful transition to the new cloud computing paradigm.

When attempting to increase knowledge to support effective cloud decision-making, it is important for us to consider that there are multiple potential audiences with differing needs and perspectives: funders, senior management, IT staff, and users were all identified as having knowledge gaps regarding the cloud.

Our qualitative survey results also indicated that language may be a barrier to cloud adoption. Several respondents we interviewed indicated that cloud products and related information, such as blogs and newsletters, were not available in their local language. This suggests there is a need for creating and/or translating cloud-computing content into a variety of languages to support all organizations worldwide in making better-informed technology decisions.

As we speak, we've already begun to do a robust free Cloud Computing for Nonprofits Webinar Series that covers things like cloud based office productivity applications, cloud backup and disaster recovery, and even cloud-based phone systems. Who knew of such things?

To quote Marnie Webb, co-CEO of TechSoup Global: "Training, you know, is something everyone needs. And it's hard. Because we say we need it. We know we need it. But in the press of the every day and the big intransigent difficulties we are each grappling with, it's hard to make 'go to a technology training class' the most important thing on the to-do list. We have to figure out how we, as capacity builders, leverage technology and our relationships across a number of sectors to offer answers to questions on demand, create mentorships, office hours for experts who are willing to donate their expertise. We need to think about how we get knowledge to people where and when they need it. And how we do that when getting the answer is urgent."

What Major Advantages Do NGOs See in Cloud Computing?

According to our survey results, ease of administration topped the list of reported advantages to cloud computing, cited by 79 percent of respondents, followed by cost-related advantages, and improved partnership and collaboration opportunities.

Individual items noted as major advantages by at least one-half of respondents included: availability or ease of access to hardware and software, improved information sharing and collaboration, easier to recover after a disaster, and little or no up-front capital investment.

Our Thoughts on This

This is an important finding for our worldwide network, especially for capacity building organizations like TechSoup Global, funders, and technology experts who work or volunteer in the field of technology for good. Cloud-based solutions for NGOs need to be relatively easy to implement and migrate existing data into. This is especially important for CRM databases and document management, which can get complicated and difficult to manage very quickly.

We do have something of an emerging vision on what is needed. To quote Marnie Webb, co-CEO of TechSoup Global again: "Cloud computing means that people are keeping data in similar formats. Or can, anyway. If we offer solutions in the cloud, we can provide configuration, sure, but we can offer a way for data to be captured that extends to multiple organizations. And that means advocacy and access can happen in ways similar to open government efforts."

We'll continue our exploration of our 2012 TechSoup Global NGO Cloud Survey results and what to do next. We welcome your thoughts!