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From Platformation to Graduation: The Evolution of Innoweave’s Cloud Computing Support

Harnessing emerging technologies to better achieve positive social and environmental impacts is often an effective strategy for innovative organizations to explore and employ. To help enable this, the McConnell Foundation’s Innoweave initiative has provided the community sector with leading information on Cloud Computing, and has shared helpful tools with hundreds of groups to assess their readiness for exploring these technology options during the past six years. We’ve established strong partnerships with expert Cloud Computing service providers, developed a large database of skilled coaches in this area, and empowered over 80 organizations with coaching support to implement cloud-based solutions to scale their social impact.

Since introducing the Cloud Computing module, knowledge of field of expertise has greatly increased in the social sector, and numerous other supports have come online, and so we are announcing today that the next cohort for this module will be the last.

Background

Cloud Computing tools have revolutionized the way organizations approach their information and communications technology. Instead of storing files and running programs on private computers, Cloud Computing allows users to run these systems on powerful server computers that are controlled and accessed online, enabling all sorts of innovative benefits.

In 2011, Innoweave held a “Platformation” event and offered funding support for non-profit organizations interested in integrating online and mobile technology into their IT infrastructure. This later evolved into Innoweave’s current Cloud Computing module, which helps organizations understand, select, and implement cloud-based technology solutions that enable them to work more efficiently and effectively while lowering costs. By capturing the benefits of these tools, teams can access documents remotely, track interactions with contacts, and manage e-mail accounts and calendars from anywhere and with multiple devices, for example.

By connecting groups with talented coaches and the funding to engage them, we helped groups:

  • Clarify what they want to achieve with Cloud Computing applications
  • Analyze the benefits and risks of transitioning some or all their technology infrastructure to the cloud
  • Make more informed decisions about technology procurement
  • Identify a range of options and develop selection criteria to use for evaluation
  • Estimate the total cost of implementing cloud-based or hybrid technology approaches
  • Design technology strategies that align with their mission, culture, and available resources.

We have seen great efficiencies from supporting this work, and—in the time since Innoweave first began engaging in Cloud Computing—this rapidly growing field has become well established. Today, most community organizations are familiar with common Cloud Computing solutions, such as web-based e-mail including Gmail, shared online calendars, collaboration tools such as Slack, file management applications like Dropbox and Box, and web-based databases/CRMs like Salesforce.

We have also witnessed considerable growth in the number and diversity of coaches and consultants offering high-quality services to support organizations navigating this always-evolving sector and the explosion of new cloud-based tools being introduced daily. The market for providing Cloud Computing support services to charities and non-profits is now well developed, which is a very positive sign for the social sector.

Our understanding of the field and of the needs of organizations has evolved since the implementation of the Platformation/Cloud Computing module. We are happy to have been able to provide support to organizations to figure out ways to work better and have learned in the process that the first step to doing just this is to clarify the expected outcomes an organization wishes to achieve.

We are pleased by the maturation of Cloud Computing uptake in the social sector. Groups now have access to a diversity of coaches equipped with methods in needs analysis, as well as expertise in Cloud Computing selection and implementation. Increasingly, many are also offering rates that are adjusted for the non-profit sector.

Express Interest for Final Intake

Innoweave will welcome its last intake round for Cloud Computing Implementation Funding applications on January 3, 2018. Organizations that are interested in applying for Cloud Computing coaching support must submit an Expression of Interest by November 15, 2017.

While we will no longer offer funding in this area in the future, we will continue to host and share valuable Cloud Computing information, tools, and resources on our web site. Innoweave will continue to actively refer interested groups to a strong network of talented coaches and dedicated partners that continue to help community-based organizations understand, assess, and implement cloud-based technology solutions to help better enable and scale their impact.

If you have any questions about this transition, please contact us at info@innoweave.ca.