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