Technology for social justice

What Microsoft's recent changes mean for your organisation

The latest changes from Microsoft are in line with a gradual shift from on-premise licensing to cloud-based solutions, writes our Consulting Services Manager Matt Walton.

Over the last four years, since Microsoft began offering Office 365 to not for profits in Australia, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of cloud-based solutions.

Today Office 365 is one of the most commonly used platforms in the not-for-profit sector for hosting applications to manage email and documents.

In the future, we expect that cloud technologies will increasingly become a necessary tool for community organisations to survive in this increasingly competitive sector.

Our recent tech survey of not for profits in Australia and New Zealand confirms this trend is gathering pace with a 30 per cent increase in organisations moving to the cloud, and with good reason – generally, cloud offerings are lower cost and easier for not for profits to use.

While not for profits face a range of challenges, getting the best tech at the most affordable price is key to their ongoing viability.

Recently Microsoft announced a range of developments indicating they are changing their donation program and offers to the charity/not-for-profit sector.

These changes are in line with a gradual shift from on-premise licensing to cloud-based solutions and provide not for profits with the opportunity to access Microsoft products and services through the cloud.

Many of the applications currently available through the Microsoft donation program such as Office 365 and Azure have not previously been accessible to most not for profits without significant investment and IT expertise.

If we look at the structure of some of the old on-premise licensing, some products were just not available under the old donation program, or if it was, applications such as Exchange for email or SharePoint for documents required installation on a local server and the purchase of licenses.

These and many other applications are now available at low or no cost in Microsoft’s cloud solution (Office 365) as part of an ever-evolving platform of applications.

Through our work implementing and supporting not for profits to move to the cloud, we have found that there has been a growing need for a broader range of technology solutions including video conferencing, project management tools, collaboration applications and document management.

Having a broad range of tools, as well as purchasing software, in the one platform provides staff with a single login and password and provides management with more efficient administration.

We have also found that not for profits also appreciate the low monthly subscription costs (for the items that aren’t free).

Traditional methods of funding major technology and software upgrades through grants or board approval of capital investments are becoming harder to come by.

The low ongoing operating expense of subscription-based software is a feasible way to ensure that the technology is affordable and always up to date.

When vendors make access to their technology easier and at low cost for our sector, it supports our work by reducing the time, effort and money spent on IT infrastructure and software.

This supports not for profits to focus on leveraging technology to help their organisation achieve their mission and have a bigger impact on the community.

Infoxchange is working on a series of communications, face-to-face events and webinars to share insights on what these changes will mean for your organisation. If you have any immediate concerns or you are planning technology transformation projects over the next few months, please feel free to get in touch.

Originally published by Pro Bono

Filed in: IT advice | Tagged as: Microsoft , Cloud services

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