NFPs Held Back by Lack of ICT Capacity Development - Study
26 April 2012 at 11:26 am
The Australian charity and Not for Profit sector continues to be held back by a growing need for the “right” technology and training to maximise the use of that technology, according to a major study by NFP technology organisation, Connecting Up.
The study says there is a critical need for ICT capacity development in the sector yet there is still virtually no Government investment in the ICT capacity development and no Not for Profit equivalent for the innovation and incubation services provided to other sectors.
A survey of 1,485 charities and Not for Profit organisations was completed in October 2011as part of the Report of Nonprofit e-Business in Australia.
The study says that Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has the potential to be both a facilitator and an inhibitor.
“Harnessed and resourced correctly, it can transform organisations helping to streamline processes, provide greater access to information based resources, and create new touch points and engagement mechanisms with members and donors,” the study says.
“But it can also hold organisations back from making progress, particularly if technology is not future proofed, when organisations become overloaded by information and when the manpower resources and skills are not available to unlock the potential of technology.”
It says cost, training and support are issues for many organisations.
“There is concern about the expense of purchasing software and then getting the most productive value from it, especially if the software is not intuitive and easy to use. Organisations are also trying to keep up with the pace of technological change.
“Major breakthroughs are now happening more than once a year. When the survey was last conducted, new technological breakthroughs might happen only once every two to three years.”
It says that this means there have been some major game changers since the last survey was conducted.
The latest study found that:
- Not for Profits are starting to embrace the mobile revolution; Most have laptops, 40% use smart phones and 21% tablets.
- Social media is transforming the way Not for Profits engage with their members and donors. Many organisations use Facebook (42%) , LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter and Blogs to extend their reach for customer and client contact as well as for advocacy, recruiting and fundraising. 5% of respondents use social media to complement or replace existing methods and approaches to fundraising.
- Telecommunication options such as VoIP is on the increase, up 6% since 2008; from 16% to 22%. VoIP is at times a cheaper form of communication such as when overseas.
- Apple is a major challenger to established providers, 60% of organisations use Windows as an Operating System (OS). Usage of the Apple OS has doubled to 15% since the 2008 survey. The introduction of the Intel chip allowing use across Mac and Windows operating systems and the adoption of iPads and iPhones in the market has introduced users to the Apple platform.
- 83% of Not for Profits have a website
- 74% use digital still and video cameras
In the ICT space, the study says the biggest challenge the sector is facing is how to keep up with the pace of technological change and adapt to and adopt new technologies. A quarter say they are lagging behind or in trouble which is double the rates reported by SME vertical business
Convergence between telecommunication and data is creating new opportunities for cost saving and improved communication through VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and unified communications.
Low cost mobile devices offer new opportunities to manage service delivery more effectively. Cloud computing offers the potential for lower cost software services and new payment regimes.
But VoIP, mobility and cloud computing all carry new issues and problems that need clarification and understanding through training.
The full report will be released at the Connecting Up Conference in Sydney, on May 1, where international keynote speakers will provide best-practice insights to Australia’s Not for Profit sector building ICT capacity.
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