By April Pedersen
Nearly a year ago, I wrote a piece that I posted on Huffington Post entitled “Why 2014 Will Be the Year Nonprofits Finally Embrace the Cloud”. I tried to make a compelling case for choosing best of breed technologies. Nearly a year later, I’d like to retract my assessment. It won’t happen this year, and probably not next for all but early adopters, but it will happen.
I don’t blame people for thinking that technology integration is a pipe dream. There’s too much evidence stacked against it. Even with more and better APIs, the shortage of software developers continues to vex us. And change doesn’t come easily in the nonprofit sector, especially with regard to technology. Upgrades to the systems already in place and integrations are agonizingly slow to push out and the increasing risk of change kills innovation.
But even if the pace of change is slow, new developments are making it possible. We’re on a mission here at Frakture to educate, work with organizations to solve really hard data integration problems and offer technology solutions that will allow for a complete refactoring to put campaigners in the driver’s seat instead of being at the mercy of their software platforms. But many ask us, it it even possible to automate integration? We think the answer is “Yes” — at least the majority of it. Connecting different systems involves lots of menial tasks, such as exporting and deduplicating data, and establishing business rules such as what to do when there are duplicates. Once the rules are established, there is no reason to have a human in the loop every day.
Also, with the open, flexible application architecture of the cloud means that integration is far easier and cheaper to manage now than it ever was before. With the standardization of applications and APIs, you can easily connect different services. It’s also possible to connect offline databases.
Let’s imagine an organization has 5-10 (not unreasonable) cloud-based systems (i.e. CRM, email, event management, advocacy, social media applications) and still has a legacy database to maintain. Now, the issues lie in the areas of standardization, data integration, data flow, process flow, vendor management, and diverse and hard to transfer skill sets. While these are very different problems than we were solving 10 years ago (and far more thorny!), they are the problems worth solving if we’re going to help organizations become nimble, creative and responsive without technology as a hindrance, but as a propeller.
Does your organization have data integration problems? Talk to us!