Ignite is Microsoft’s annual conference for developers and IT support providers. In previous years it has been a week-long event bringing together over 50,000 IT professionals. Because of the pandemic, Ignite 2020 was a two-day virtual conference that ran for 48 straight hours across all time zones. Ignite events included a livestream from Microsoft’s own television studio in Redmond, Washington; hundreds of pre-recorded breakout sessions; and dozens of live Microsoft Teams-based webinars.
With the shift to subscription-based, cloud-hosted and service-oriented software, Ignite is not a venue for Microsoft to announce new releases (such as Apple and Google events). Instead it is an opportunity for Microsoft to highlight recent developments and provide a roadmap for upcoming improvements. Most importantly, they used the event to outline their vision for their future and the future of the technology sector as a whole.
It is the broader vision that is most interesting and exciting for the nonprofit tech community. Thanks to the leadership of CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft has been able to execute on a unique and compelling vision for computing and productivity.
Satya Nadella outlined this vision in his keynote address now available on Microsoft’s YouTube channel. The reality of 2020 was placed front and center throughout the conference. The coronavirus pandemic means that organizations need to focus on both resilience and transformation. Nadella called this tech intensity, using technology to optimize operations, empower people, transform services, and engage with constituents.
This lesson is just as applicable to a nonprofit organization as it is to a business.
Microsoft signaled its continuing commitment to the nonprofit sector by highlighting several nonprofits throughout the conference and focusing several key breakout sessions on the work of the nonprofit sector, both globally and locally.
Microsoft intends to provide the technology infrastructure to support organizations that are engaged in a process of digital transformation. Whether it is from the Azure cloud infrastructure itself (“Azure is now the world’s computer”) or productivity tools such as Office 365, Microsoft laid out a grand and bold vision for empowering organizations.
One should always view the grand promises of tech CEOs with a skeptical eye. At the same time, Microsoft has established a strong track record of delivering on many of its promises over the past 5 years. And while news of the world’s first underwater datacenter, or Azure controlled orbital satellite, are sexy and exciting, it is the more mundane that is the most interesting and relevant to the nonprofit tech sector. For example, Microsoft has done brain scan research to find ways to improve Teams video conferencing so that it is–literally–less mind-numbing. It is developing tools to help restrict and report on abusive language in corporate environments, which nonprofits will clearly utilize.
Bottom Line on Microsoft for Nonprofits Roadmap: Bold visions for for-profit tech will have clear impact on nonprofit tech
At Community IT, we continue to be encouraged by the direction that Microsoft has been going, and the positive value it has created for the nonprofit sector.
Somehow the two-day, virtual Ignite felt just as overwhelming as the week-long in person event. There is a lot going on at Microsoft and it is always interesting to get a first-hand look. Microsoft seems dedicated to serving the nonprofit sector and their vision is no longer just to make nonprofits “fit” into a commercially available product by providing discounted licenses.
For more background on Microsoft in the nonprofit tech sector, check out the video of our co-presentation with Kyle Haines on technology platforms and the impact on your nonprofit of a digital transformation. Our friends at Build Consulting and PicNet have also recorded a video discussion of the Microsoft vision for nonprofit tech and how it impacts your decision making and investments.
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It is a top priority at Community IT to work with our clients to understand your investments in technology, in addition to maintaining your current technology and cybersecurity.
Our process is based on 25 years of exclusively serving nonprofits. Our technicians have certifications across all major platforms, and we constantly research and evaluate new solutions to ensure that you get cutting-edge solutions that are tailored to the needs of your organization.
We regularly present webinars at Community IT about nonprofit technology issues, and we work hard to keep our nonprofit technology community informed and engaged in best practices, including this IT support for nonprofits guide.