Every year Gartner, one of the world’s leading technology analyst firms, takes a look at the biggest trends in technology and how they might impact organizations.

In Forward Together, we’re taking a look at Gartner’s trends through the lense of our customers in the nonprofit and association sectors. Last month, in Part 1 of this two-part series, we delved into the first five of Gartner’s trends for 2015. Here, in Part 2, we explore trends six through 10. 

Trend 6: Smart Machines

Prototype autonomous vehicles, advanced robots, virtual personal assistants, and smart advisors already exist and will evolve rapidly, ushering in a new age of machine helpers. The smart machine era will be the most disruptive in the history of IT.

Nonprofit and Association Impact: In the short and medium term, artificial intelligence and Terminator-type machines will fall outside the scope of what nonprofit and association professionals need to be thinking about. It will be fascinating to see how this disruptive field evolves and impacts businesses over the long term, but in the short term, this will primarily be relegated to a very small group of organizations dedicated to artificial intelligence, research, and cutting-edge technology.  

Trend 7: Cloud/Client Computing

The convergence of cloud and mobile computing will continue to promote the growth of centrally coordinated applications that can be delivered to any device. 

Nonprofit and Association Impact: This is – and continues to be – tremendously important for nonprofits and associations, and should be an important part of any organization’s technology strategy. As touched on in Trend 1 in last month’s blog, cloud and mobile work well together and change the rules for engagement, fundraising, member management, etc. Anytime/anywhere access with built-in flexibility will help you adapt quickly to emerging digital trends and stay relevant with your members and donors.

Trend 8: Software-Defined Architecture

Agile programming of everything from applications to basic infrastructure is essential to enable organizations to deliver the flexibility required to make the digital business work. 

Nonprofit and Association Impact: The context in which this is important for you to think about is when selecting a technology vendor. Agile development and rapid deployment of upgrades on a scalable platform that supports integrations from multiple technology developers will be key. The world is moving quickly. A system’s ability to upgrade and scale should be a key factor in your product selection.  

Trend 9: Web-Scale IT

Web-scale IT is a pattern of global-class computing that delivers the capabilities of large cloud service providers within an enterprise IT setting. More organizations will begin thinking, acting, and building applications and infrastructure like Web giants such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook.  

Nonprofit and Association Impact: This is one trend for organizations to keep an eye on down the road, but nothing to spend too much time and energy on in the short term.  

Trend 10: Risk-Based Security and Self Protection

All roads to the digital future lead through security. However, in a digital business world, security cannot be a roadblock that stops all progress. Organizations will increasingly recognize that it is not possible to provide a 100 percent secured environment. Once organizations acknowledge that, they can begin to apply more-sophisticated risk assessment and mitigation tools. 

Nonprofit and Association Impact: Again, this is something to strongly consider when looking at a technology vendor – especially a cloud-based technology vendor. What does their security protocol look like? Who does the vendor partner with to ensure the best possible security in a digital environment? How does and organization identify and build a digital security policy that will help mitigate risk?