Gaining competitive advantage through the cloud

July 24, 2015 melanie.gasperi

When was the last time that individual giving was the largest source of income for the voluntary sector?

Any ideas?

March 2004. [1]

Insight: recently it’s proved very tricky to attract and keep those new donors.

At the same time, the public sector is reducing its responsibilities in related respects, putting greater pressure on the third sector to overdeliver whilst underesourced.

Charities need to find a way to maintain competitiveness under these less-than-ideal conditions.

And these lot are hardly slackers. The third sector is tough; they run a tight ship already. So how do they squeeze organisational efficiencies essentially from nowhere?

One place they often don’t look is up at the clouds.

The cloud is often described as a ‘utility’ for computing power. Your charity wouldn’t generate its own electricity, because it’s cheaper and easier to let someone else do it. Increasingly, the same goes for your infrastructure and technology.

By outsourcing some or all of your IT infrastructure to the cloud, you can create more space in your charity for creativity and innovation in support of your given cause.

Here are three ways in which the cloud can surprise you with added efficiencies and give you that competitive edge.

1) Greater control over IT expenditure

Buying lots of IT equipment is expensive. And it’s an easy mistake to make to purchase too much or too little – and neither option puts you in pole position to achieve your goals.

With an expert provider managing your IT infrastructure, you are saved the time and expense of procuring and maintaining your own kit. In exchange, you get access to flexible, scalable cloud infrastructure.

Even better: you only pay for what you use.

When a big charity campaign drives a lot of traffic to your website, with a few clicks flex up your capacity to handle it without a problem. When your website is comparatively quiet, there’s no need to be paying for masses of IT capability.

2) A flexible, connected workforce

In a knowledge economy, the sharing of information between workers is a business priority. Connecting your teams and the information they need sparks collaboration.

Cloud solutions release your charity workers from their office walls and enable them to work from anywhere, all with the same software, sharing the same data.

Charities, in particular, could benefit from this by streaming real-time information about donations and donors, for example, and making it accessible to campaign managers on the ground.

Equally, cloud-based communications solutions can combine internet telephony and data on the same network. High quality and reliable voice, video, data and instant messaging streams all converge to bring your workers together, wherever they are.

Your fundraisers can even use the same mobile number and voicemail whether they are sitting at their desk in HQ, or out and about on their mobile – making seamless communication as simple as possible.

Plus, it’s cheaper. Claranet’s own Hosted Voice platform has reduced our average customer’s call costs by between 40 and 70 per cent.

3) Increased focus on your cause

The crux of the competitiveness of the cloud is its ability to free up your understaffed IT department (or even IT person…) to put their limited resources to the best use possible.

Rather than fixing server issues, they can be making your website more user friendly. Instead of filling in order forms for new hardware they can be enhancing the security of your donor data.

They can be doing the important things that give your charity that competitive advantage.

That helps your charity to do amazing things.

Find out more about how Claranet's managed hosting services can help your charity to do amazing things.

References

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/voluntary-sector-network/2014/jan/27/voluntar...

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