October 2011


The technology that makes up many of the systems in the IT world today is at a critical juncture and in the next five years everything from mobile devices and applications to servers and social networking will impact IT in ways companies need to prepare for now, Gartner Vice President David Cearley says.

Cearley offered the following as examples of the way the tech world is changing:

  1. 30 billion pieces of content were added to Facebook this past month.
  2. Worldwide IP traffic will quadruple by 2015.
  3. More than 2 billion videos were watched on YouTube … yesterday.
  4. The average teenager sends 4,762 text messages per month.
  5. 32 billion searches were performed last month … on Twitter.

So what issues need to be on IT’s radar screen for 2012? Here’s a look at the Top 10 Tech Trends and the implications of those issues according to Gartner:

1. Media tablets and beyond: Bring-your-own-technology at work has become the norm, not the exception. With that come security and management challenges that IT needs to address. By 2015 media tablet shipments will reach around 50% of laptop shipments and Windows 8 will likely be in third place behind Android and Apple.

2. Mobile-centric applications and interfaces: Here touch, gesture and voice search is going to change the way mobile apps work in the future, Cearley says. By 2014, there will be more than 70 billion mobile application downloads from app stores every year.

3. Social and contextual user experience: According to Gartner, context-aware computing uses information about an end user’s or object’s environment, activities connections and preferences to improve the quality of interaction with that end user or object. A contextually aware system anticipates the user’s needs and proactively serves up the most appropriate and customized content, product or service. The tipping point here could be technology such as near-field communications getting into more and more devices. Some interesting facts here: By 2015, 40% of the world’s smartphone users will opt in to context service providers that track their activities with Google, Microsoft, Nokia and Apple continuously tracking daily journeys and digital habits for 10% of the world population by 2015, Cearley says.

4. Application stores and marketplace: The key here is the rise of enterprise application stores that can develop specific apps for users. This will let IT manage and control certain apps. But embracing the idea of user choice might be a difficult concept for enterprise IT to embrace, Cearley says. Enterprises should use a managed diversity approach to focus app store efforts and segment apps by risk and value. Where the business value of an app is low and the potential risk, such as the loss of sensitive data, is high, apps might be blocked entirely.

5. The Internet of everything: The idea here is that we are building on pervasive computing where cameras, sensors, microphones, image recognition — everything — is now part of the environment. Remote sensing of everything from electricity to air conditioning use is now part of the network. In addition, increasingly intelligent devices create issues such as privacy concerns. Eventually IT will need some central unified management of all these devices, Cearley says.

6. Next-generation analytics: Most enterprises have reached the point in the improvement of performance and costs where Cearley says they can afford to perform analytics and simulation for every action taken in the business. Not only will data center systems be able to do this, but mobile devices will have access to data and enough capability to perform analytics themselves, potentially enabling use of optimization and simulation everywhere. Going forward, IT can focus on developing analytics that enable and track collaborative decision making.

7. Big data: Big data has quickly emerged as a significant challenge for IT leaders. The term only became popular in 2009. By February 2011, a Google search on “big data” yielded 2.9 million hits, and vendors now advertise their products as solutions to the big data challenge. The key thing enterprises have to realize is that they just can’t store it all. There are new techniques to handle extreme data, such as Apache Hadoop, but companies will have to develop new skills to effectively use these technologies, Cearley says.

8. In-memory computing: We will see huge use of flash memory in consumer devices, entertainment devices, equipment and other embedded IT systems. In addition, flash offers a new layer of the memory hierarchy in servers and client computers that has key advantages — space, heat, performance and ruggedness among them. Unlike RAM, the main memory in servers and PCs, flash memory is persistent even when power is removed. In that way, it looks more like disk drives where we place information that must survive power-downs and reboots, yet it has much of the speed of memory, far faster than a disk drive. As lower-cost — and lower-quality — flash is used in the data center, software that can optimize the use of flash and minimize the endurance cycles becomes critical. Users and IT providers should look at in-memory computing as a long-term technology trend that could have a disruptive impact comparable to that of cloud computing, Cearley says.

9. Extreme low-energy servers: What if you could turn 10 virtual machines in one box into 40 slow physical servers that are tiny and use very low amounts of energy? There is a call for this type of computing to handle big data. For example, thousands of these little processors could work on a Hadoop process, Cearley says. Gartner says that 10%-15% of enterprise workloads are good for this. Moving the application from 10 images to 40 slower, less capable machines will only deliver on that promise if the software will perform the same. Server technologies are going to change to handle big data.

10. Cloud computing: This topic went from No. 1 last year to No. 10 this year, but it’s still an important trend. It will become the next-generation battleground for the likes of Google and Amazon. Going forward, enterprise IT will be concerned with developing hybrid private/public cloud apps, improving security and governance, Cearley says.

GARTNER: 10 key IT trends for 2012

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“Telecommuting” in the old sense is dead. It’s no longer some weird edge case, it is how people work these days.  It’s all about Bring Your Own Device “BYOD”.  I repost a lot about this  on my LinkedIn profile, but never here yet…HMMM

The idea of all your data only accessible from your desk is gone, dead, and good riddance. You can’t manage an iPad or a Droid the way you manage an iMac or a Dell Dimension. It’s just not possible, the devices weren’t made for corporations but their success and  proliferation have made them necessary in corporate networks.

I say, give me a cloud, give me an app, give me secure corporate data access…I say goodbye Telecommuting.

I like this series of articles, but like this one the best having worked with and worked in non-profits.  The entire series can be found here and it is written by Nell Edgington, the President of Social Velocity (www.socialvelocity.net), a management consulting firm leading nonprofits to greater social impact and financial sustainability

In part 11 of our ongoing blog series, Financing Not Fundraising, we are talking about being brutally honest with your donors. If nonprofits are going to truly break free from the vicious fundraising cycle, they must find the courage to tell funders how it really is. And since board members are a nonprofit’s closest supporters and (I hope) donors, you need to stop telling them these lies as well.

If you are new to our Financing Not Fundraising blog series, the series is about how nonprofits must break out of the narrow view that traditional FUNDRAISING (individual donor appeals, events, foundation grants) will completely fund all of their activities.  Instead, they must create a broader, more strategic approach to securing the overall FINANCING necessary to create social change. You can read the entire series here.

And, if you want to learn more about how to apply the concepts of Financing Not Fundraising to your nonprofit, join us for our Financing Not Fundraising webinar on October 18, 2011.

If you want to break free of the exhausting cycle of fundraising, a key step is to start being brutally honest with funders. Here are the top 5 lies you have to stop telling donors:

    1. X% of your donation goes to the program
      The distinction between “program expenses” and “overhead” is, at best, meaningless and, at worst, destructive. You cannot have a program without staff, technology, space, systems, evaluation, research and development. It is magical thinking to say that you can separate money spent on programs from money spent on the support of programs. Donors need to understand, and you need to explain to them, that “overhead” is not a dirty word. A nonprofit exists to deliver programs. Andeverything the organization does helps to make those programs better, stronger, bigger, more effective.
    1. We can do the same program with less money
      No you can’t. You know you can’t. You are already scraping by. Don’t accept a check from a donor who wants all the bells and whistles you explained in your pitch, but at a lower cost. Explain the true costs, including administrative costs, of getting results. Politely, but firmly, explain to them that an inferior investment will yield an inferior result. If they simply can’t afford the price tag, then encourage them to find fellow funders to co-invest with.
    1. We can start a new program that doesn’t fit with our mission or strategy
      Yes that big, fat check a donor is holding in front of you looks very appealing. But if it takes your organization in a different direction than your strategy or your core competencies require, accepting it is a huge mistake. Nonprofits must constantly ensure that money and mission are aligned. Otherwise the organization will be scattered in countless directions with an exhausted staff and confused donor base. Don’t let a donor take you down that road.
    1. We can grow without additional staff or other resources
      Nonprofit staff truly excel at working endless hours with very few resources. They have perfected the concept of doing more and more with less and less. But someday that road must end. Nonprofit leaders have to be honest with donors when their staff and resources are at capacity. Because eventually program results will suffer and the donor will receive little in return for their investment.
  1. 100% of our board is committed to our organization
    If that’s true, then you are a true minority in the nonprofit sector. Every nonprofit board I know has some dead  wood. Members who ignore fundraising duties, don’t contribute to meetings, miss meetings, take the organization on tangents are always present. It’s a fact that funders want to see every board member contributing. But instead of perpetuating the myth that 100% is an achievable reality, be honest with funders. Tell them that you continually analyze each individual board member’s contributions (financial, intellectual, time) and have a clear plan for addressing deficiency, including: coaching, peer pressure, training, asking for resignations. Getting to 100% is probably never realistic, it is far better to demonstrate that you are tirelessly working toward 90%.

Stop the madness. We need to stop telling funders what they want to hear and then cursing them behind their backs when they set  unrealistic expectations. Funders must be made to understand the harsh realities of the nonprofit sector if they are ever to be expected to help bring change.

I saw this on another Blog and loved it.  How far we have come.