A big thanks to everyone who joined us at the Nonprofit Technology Conference this year. And an even bigger thanks to NTEN for putting on the biggest and best conference yet!
Community IT Innovators led three sessions on the conference’s “Technology Track” and it was interesting to see what aspects of these topics got the greatest audience engagement:
- Virtualization: the pros and cons of desktop and server virtualization, leading software, and related issues.
- Cloud Computing: hosted email, file sharing, apps, and related issues such as backups, vendor lock-in, and more.
- IT Planning for “Small” Nonprofits: regardless of whether you have 5 or 85 staff, if you don’t have an on-staff technologist in charge of IT/IS this is probably applicable to you.
If the Technology Planning for Nonprofits panel discussion interests you, you can watch a recording of the session. Or, check out the presentation and this basic IT budget template. There was also question during the session regarding PCI Compliance and a potentially useful website was identified by a member of the audience. For more information or questions, please contact Johan Hammerstrom.
The virtualization session notes, including Twitter feed and links, are available at the conference website. Topics that got the most airtime included desktop virtualization and backup of virtual environments. The cloud session notes are also available. Topics in this session included vendor lock-in, backups, cloud-based file sharing, single sign-on, and rich media backups.
Finally, I was at the IT Directors Affinity Group meeting, where a theme seemed to be the changing role of IT in nonprofits. A few observations:
- There were about 100 attendees, most of whom described themselves as “IT Directors.” About 40% of those were representing organizations with over 100 seats/users/computers.
- Surprisingly to me, almost half indicated that they report to the CEO/Executive Director. This is encouraging since it implies a more strategic view of technology, rather than the traditional “cost center” approach that is more typical when the IT Director reports to the CFO.
- Several mentioned feeling marginalized within their organizations. “Corporate” IT, at the levels of funding it commonly receives in the nonprofit space, is hard pressed to keep up with the technology expectations of staff. Challenges include the pace of change in consumer IT and the introduction of those technologies into the enterprise, and the expense and difficulty in migrating integrated, enterprise-wide systems to newer technology platforms. They feel pressure to keep up despite the lack of funding for or strategic focus on the effective use on technology.
- Moving apps to the cloud and/or outsourcing does NOT mean that an organization does not need to oversee those things. Several shared stories affirming the need to provide ongoing oversight of hosted apps and service providers.
- The role of IT Directors is changing, and some feel threatened while other see it as an opportunity to shift their focus to more value-adding work (if organizations will maintain their investment in the role!).
There’s no doubt there are major changes underway in the technology world, and that roles in the IT department are shifting. I believe the pace of change is frequently overstated, and that this will be a slow and incremental process for most organizations. Nevertheless, organizations need to be thinking about the changes and the opportunities now.