Gartner is one of the leading technology analyst firms in the world. It employs many smart people looking into the technology trends that will have the biggest impact on our lives – both as consumers of technology and professionals working with technology.
For 2015, Gartner identified 10 technology trends it believes will have the biggest impact on organizations over the next three years. Will all of these trends have a direct bearing on nonprofits and associations? Not at all. But, some definitely do.
In Part 1, we explore Gartner’s first five trends for 2015 and provide context around if and how they impact nonprofits and associations.
Trend 1: Computing Everywhere
As mobile devices continue to proliferate, we’ll see an increased emphasis on serving the needs of mobile users in diverse contexts and environments, as opposed to focusing on devices alone.
Nonprofit and Association Impact: Yes and yes! More and more, donors, volunteers, and members are engaging with organizations through mobile devices. Organizations that don’t have a mobile strategy – including, engagement, fundraising, collecting revenue, managing event registration, etc. – run the risk of being left behind. Rich Dietz wrote a recent post about technology keeping up with donors. It’s worth a read.
Trend 2: The Internet of Things
Per Gartner, the combination of data streams and services created by digitizing everything creates four basic usage models – Manage, Monetize, Operate, and Extend.
Nonprofit and Association Impact: This is one to keep an eye on for sure, but no immediate action is required. There is a tremendous number of interesting use cases for the Internet of Things (such as a hospital putting multiple devices and sensors around the building to monitor and track a number of different pieces of information – including air quality, etc.).
Trend 3: 3D Printing
Gartner predicts 3D printing will reach a tipping point over the next three years as the market for relatively low-cost 3D printing devices continues to grow rapidly and industrial use expands significantly.
Nonprofit Impact and Associations: Virtually nonexistent 3D printing is very powerful and useful for research and development, as well as for designers conceptualizing ideas, but usefulness will likely be limited to these use cases for the foreseeable future.
Trend 4: Advanced, Pervasive, and Invisible Analytics
Analytics will take center stage as the volume of data generated in embedded systems increases, and vast pools of structured and unstructured data inside and outside the enterprise are analyzed with a focus on the answers, not the data.
Nonprofit and Association Impact: Oh my goodness, yes. Considering the vast quantities of data most nonprofits and associations have at their fingertips, analyzing the data is essential. Per a comment from a participant of our Donor Engagement Study, nonprofits need to be more diligent at using data to which they have access to provide a more personalized experience. In other words, nonprofits should be using multiple data points to make a single decision versus using a single data point to drive multiple decisions.
Trend 5: Context-Rich Systems
Ubiquitous embedded intelligence combined with pervasive analytics will drive the development of systems that are alert to their surroundings and able to respond appropriately.
Nonprofit and Association Impact: Yes, but not for a while. Think of it as an interaction on a computer that can sense the situation and adapt accordingly. One example (on a very small scale) is the Fundraising Advisor we developed that provides different information to folks based on how they answer each question. Will we have an evolution of this type of interaction between nonprofits and their supporters? Yes, at some point. Again, this is another trend to keep an eye on.