Technology Trends Affecting Non-Profits: Spring 2011
1. Routine hardware costs are approaching zero. This sounds like a gross exageration, but, I just ordered a network file server for under a thousand dollars, whose equivalent cost over fourteen thousand dollars fifteen years ago. Desktop workstation computers that cost $2400 five years ago, are now under a thousand dollars, and well-equipped laptops that cost $1300 a few years ago, can be had for half that amount. I walked through a college administration building recently. Almost all of the desks had laptop computers on them, plugged into docking stations and there were almost no desktop computers to be seen. The latest hardware refresh for our student computers has been replacing desktop computer labs with collections of laptops. It is the beginning of end of purpose-built computer labs for that organization and a return to a more library like “learning center”, with round tables, fast wireless, and laptops.
2. The movement toward cloud-based services, using shared hardware and software located remotely, is accelerating. Of course, we’ve had these for many years (Hotmail), but now applications, storage, processing, and whole remote servers are available sometimes free (DropBox) or for a few bucks per month.
3. Broadband internet is ubiquitous. Clearly, an “always-on” internet connection is required to access the cloud.
4. Social networking applications; Twitter, Facebook, etc. are seen as viable marketing tools. The question to ask yourself here is whether your clients, constituents or customers are using these platforms. (Actually, you need to ask *them* if they are using social media) If they are… then you should too. But if they aren’t, then you can place your priorities elsewhere.
5. Mobile applications on smartphones and tablets are booming. Some believe that the easy money has been made by the early adopters of mobile computing. What is clear, however is that later adopters are developing a strategy for deploy their applications and information to mobile devices.
As an agency head or technology manager, you might want to consider your view of these examples. Where are you and your organization on the adoption curve? Bleeding edge, early adapter, currently in production, not interested?