In 2020, Cloud services took centre stage as the entire world shifted to working remotely. The term Cloud services encompasses many different types of technology, platforms and applications. Simply put, cloud computing is the delivery of IT services via the internet. Moving to a Cloud based IT solution therefore means moving away from a traditional on-premises server.
So, what are the benefits of Cloud computing and why is it proving so popular?
Regardless of whether your organisation is a non-profit, SMB, or global enterprise there are some common benefits of Cloud based IT solutions. These include:
Security: There is a common misconception that having data stored on a physical server under lock and key is safer than sending to the Cloud. The reality however is quite the opposite.
“Advanced security functions provided by Cloud based IT solutions like Office 365 are significantly greater than those available on-premises. You may need to configure certain settings but when done correctly, data in the Cloud is much more secure and protected,” says Steve Ranson, Director, IT Smart Solutions.
Collaboration: Ensuring staff can collaborate effectively regardless of location is important for all organisations but especially non-profits. Often, charities and associations have part time staff working from multiple locations or Board members meeting, often outside of standard work hours.
“One of the major benefits of Cloud services for non-profits is the Microsoft Teams element. Directors, staff and volunteers alike need to share and collaborate on documents in a secure environment,” notes Steve.
Accessibility: Integral to good collaboration is accessibility. Physical servers have major constraints around if and how information can be accessed outside of the office network. Not so with IT Cloud services. Users of modern workplace technology like Microsoft 365 can access documents and data securely via SharePoint or OneDrive from any device.
“You can now also integrate your telephony with Microsoft Teams which only increases accessibility benefits,” notes Steve.
Cost efficiency: On-premises servers are a significant business investment with large upfront costs. Cloud based IT solutions work on a subscription basis and therefore do not require as much capital investments.
“For non-profits the saving here is even greater. Microsoft offers significant subscription discounts on their Cloud services for non-profits. The offer includes a number of free Office 365 subscriptions and then a heavily subsidised fee per user thereafter. This is very attractive, given that most non-profits are working to a strict budget and would rather direct funds towards their focal cause than IT systems,” says Steve.
In addition to the discounted fees, Office 365 offers a raft of apps that are included in the subscription. This can create a cost saving as non-profits no longer have to invest in multiple point solutions, everything needed is covered by one monthly subscription.
Bigger picture benefits
Beyond these however, there are several key benefits that are specific to the third sector. A substantial 75% of the 2025 workforce will be tech-savvy millennials. In order to be perceived as an attractive workplace, employees will need to have the right technology in place. Whilst millennials want roles that offer purpose, they are also highly tech-dependant.
“If you are serious about your organisation and attracting the best staff, then you need to provide the right tools and technology. Investing in Cloud services for non-profits is a very simple first step to take to achieve this,” notes Steve.
Millennials are not the only group that technology appeals to. According to the 2019 Beyond Digital Survey 85% of supporters and 95% of funding decision-makers say they’re more likely to support a non-profit if it shows them how it is using technology to run its programs in a better way.
Taking the first step
Getting started is often the hardest part of any change and moving to IT Cloud services is no different. Common challenges cited include a lack of funding, resources or the skill needed to implement the solution, and the need to get any decisions made ratified at Board level.
“There seems to be some reluctance amongst non-profits to make the move to Cloud. This is often caused by concerns over costs and resourcing, but these can often be quickly alleviated,” says Steve.
“Generally, non-profit leaders understand the opportunity and the potential benefits but don’t have the ability to act on it. This is where enlisting help from an MSP can help. A good MSP will identify the best vendor offers available and provide support and guidance throughout the process,” adds Steve.
The element of unknown around Cloud services for non-profits is often the biggest barrier to organisations embracing the change.
“Removing the unknown and getting a clear understanding of what your journey might look like is free. Anyone can contact us to ask what is involved and what it might cost. It helps to have this information at hand when making decisions,” concludes Steve.