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9 Out of 10 Charities Use the Cloud But Only in a Limited Way Says Global Survey

A survey of 10,500 respondents in the charities sector from 88 different countries has shown that the Cloud is being used by over 90% of charities in some way, albeit limited in many cases.

Mainly Email and Social Networking

The survey by Techsoup Global and its international partners (including CTT in the UK) found that the most popular uses of the Cloud for charities are for email (55%), and social networking (47%). The least popular uses are for compliance (2%) and disaster recovery (3%).

The survey also indicated that a surprisingly high proportion of NGOs are still not ready to commit more to the use of the Cloud. In the same survey 36 % cent of NGOs said that they have no plans to move a significant portion of their operations into the cloud, and 11 % plan for it to take more than three years.

The survey also appears to confirm the presence among charities of some of the common reasons for a reluctance to make a major commitment to a move to the Cloud. These typically include a lack of knowledge about it, a fear of the risks fuelled by misconceptions, and simply not being able to see the value and potential of it.

Misconceptions

Reticence and misconceptions about the Cloud are certainly not uncommon. A recent Technology Trust survey showed that 58% of charities (mainly small charities) still don’t use the cloud, with 45% believing that there is little or no added benefit in using the cloud, and 56% of them being concerned about security and the cost of hardware solutions such as servers.

Myth Busting

In the early adoption phase of new services (particularly where technology is concerned) it is not uncommon for myths to emerge and circulate that focus on negative points and support short term familiar fixes and resistance to major change. Where the Cloud is concerned some of the key points that are often focused on are:

  • Security risks posed by the Cloud. In fact the physical risks posed by hardware (Cloud data is stored remotely), by human error, and by simply using your laptop at home with a wireless connection for example can be far greater. Cloud providers like Microsoft and Salesforce are investing a lot of time, money and resources into ensuring that Cloud security levels as high as possible. Remote, centralised storage also makes backing up your data easier and more effective.
  • The Costs. A move to the Cloud can mean much lower hardware costs in the future (buying and repair costs), the pay-as-you-go aspect of the Cloud can be far more economical and efficient, and updates are automatic so there are no extra costs there. Less physical servers also means lower energy costs. The Cloud can dramatically reduce the costs of in-house infrastructure and systems. Some Cloud providers are also offering large discounts to charities.
  • Environmental / green concerns. Off-site data servers / the virtualisation offered by the cloud can dramatically reduce an organisations energy use and carbon footprint.

What Does This Mean For Your Organisation?

There is of course no pressure to move everything to the Cloud right away without knowing how or why, but as the figures in these reports show many Charities have already committed some of the critical aspects of their operations to the Cloud successfully, and there is no reason why more shouldn’t follow.

If as the Technology Trust survey figures show that around half of charities simply aren’t aware of the benefits and are more focused on the possible costs of switching rather than the longer term cost savings, lack of knowledge about the strengths and opportunities offered by the Cloud could be the reason why many charities are missing out.

There is little doubt among Cloud users that it aids centralised control, collaboration and competitiveness, and it is flexible enough to closely match the exact requirements of your business thus making it a very effective way of streamlining.

Getting some professional consultancy and advice about the potential of the Cloud for your particular organisation could at the very least be a sensible starting point and could help you to make more informed IT decisions for the future. It could also however enable you to discover potential sources of competitive advantage and exciting opportunities that you had not considered.