At Sparkrock’s annual customer conference, Rory MacDonald lead a discussion about digital transformation and the intelligent cloud. Here we’ve summarized his main talking points for those who couldn’t make it to the session on the day.
What is Digital Transformation?
It’s a big buzz word in technology but it’s not as intimidating as it sounds. Finance and HR teams are still following the same protocols they’ve used for decades but technology is allowing organizations to capture and share data in a better way. Digital transformation can empower organizations to go “from clerical work to value-added work”, thinking about “what-if” scenarios, and looking at strategic objectives instead of capturing data through paper.
The role of cloud
“Cloud” describes internet-based services such as databases and software, as opposed to the traditional “on premise” solutions, which are programs and processes using servers that are on-site. It reduces much of the IT and infrastructure burden from nonprofit and education organizations.
Three-quarters of companies now have at least some cloud-based services, and more cloud solutions are available every day. There are lots of reasons for moving to the cloud, including better access and integration, reduced cost and burden on internal IT, improved security and reduced risk, and cloud is often more cost-effective than on premise.
The goals of digital transformation
Cloud opportunities have created more than $100 trillion in value for the commercial sector, so imagine what it could mean for nonprofits in efficiency and opportunities to improve funding. Microsoft’s “intelligent cloud” describes the integration of systems and devices for cutting edge efficiency and opportunities to use the latest technology such as artificial intelligence and machine learning in your day to day tasks.
It’s often tough to envision how new developments such as AI can impact your sector, but imagine being alerted ahead of time about which funders’ behaviour shows they’re ready to donate, or being able to target funds to programs with the biggest impact while those programs are still ongoing. These are just some of opportunities that AI could have for nonprofits.
No time, no resources, no expertise?
These are the three most common complaints Rory hears when it comes to guiding and implementing digital transformation programs. Everyone is short on time, resources, and internal expertise. That’s why partnering with a provider with experience and expertise in your field is crucial.
Once your digital transformation process is started you’ll find a lot of your current bottlenecks and headaches are alleviated. Common outcomes include doing more with less, better client outcomes and outcome tracking, lower risk and better compliance. For our customers, compliance is especially important. We’ve seen customers discover mismanagement of funds and staff being incorrectly classified and assigned due to the increased visibility in our system.
Lessons from the Learning Enrichment Foundation
Learning Enrichment Foundation VP of Finance Therese Sullivan says her biggest suggestion would be using a change management consultant to help the process, including introducing more rigorous process documentation. One of their challenges was getting staff to consistently use the new system, because many didn’t recognize the problems they were creating down the line by working outside the all-in-one solution.
She also noted that many staff were worried about job losses, so they had to ensure they communicated the opportunities and empowerment the system offered – explaining they were hired for their expertise and were still valued for that. “Essentially your job becomes more interesting,” Therese told them. “This will remove data entry and you can use your skills to have a greater impact.”
Register for the Feb 21 webinar on the benefits of cloud.