Third Sector Update

It’s now just over one month since our inaugural market focus roundtable event at the Ritz. This event was all about the Third Sector and discussing how technology and our changing lives have created both challenges and opportunities for charitable organisations.

First Challenge

In our first challenge we asked each table to consider how new-media (voice, video, microblogging, picture sharing, animation, collaboration & chat) can challenge the traditional notions of who creates and who consumes (digital) content. We heard some excellent examples of how video sharing, peer-to-peer and sponsor created content could enliven and improve engagement.

What we’ve done at Exponential-e to ensure that our customers can make the most of the new-media technology available today is continually invest in our network to ensure that we have a great Network for Video. We’ve also recently deployed the Broadsoft UC1 Unified Communications -as-a-Service platform as an upgrade to our hosted voice offering allowing our customers to leverage video, desktop sharing and real-time collaboration from their computers, smartphones & tablets.

Second Challenge

In the second challenge we asked each table to think of a game, well not really a game – but a way of ‘gamifying’ a real world problem that the third sector may face. Gamification – as we all learned- is the process of applying game theory and gaming mechanics to non-game applications. It was delightful to see how every table kept the idea of the first topic alive when creating their games. We had a game centred on a video fund-raising challenge, a “Minecraft” clone where the buildings represented an actual reconstruction in a disaster area, and a fitness challenge that paired the active with the not-so-active.

We of course already knew that gamification is a huge area of opportunity for the third sector. Gamification takes the visual and makes it entertaining; and entertaining things hold people’s attention and get their participation to a whole new level. This is why we’ve enhanced the capabilities of our class-leading cloud computing platform to deliver not only the storage and computing power you need to host today’s visual game systems; but also developed the world’s first GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) enhanced hosted virtual desktops; real graphics workstations in the cloud, perfect for creating the next wave of gamified applications.

For some great reading of what’s already being done in this space in the UK. Click here to see this article from last year.

Third Challenge

Then finally, in our last activity we engaged the tables in a lively debate around the concepts of data security, privacy and employee monitoring. To summarise the broad consensus of the room:

  1. When asked whether personal data belonged to the subject of the data, or to the entity or organisation which gathered it, the room soundly agreed that the data is the property of its subject. This differs from the American concept where data belongs to the gatherer or even in some cases to the person / organisation storing it. We’ve seen in recent years through the revelations around project PRISM that the USA has a very different notion around personal privacy. All the more reason to ensure that your data is stored and managed by a non-US entity.
  2. When asked if we can trust for-profit companies with our personal data, the answer was not unsurprisingly “it depends”. The clinch here seems to have been around ensuring a clear and transparent understanding of what the company intends to do with our data and ensuring that it does only that.
  3. When asked the same question about trust, but this time for non-profit organisations, perhaps surprisingly the answer was the same. It all really depends on the intended use of the data.
  4. When asked next whether employees should be trusted with company data on their personal devices the room was somewhat more divided. It became clear that most of us want to be able to use our personal devices, BUT it seems that the management were still cautious about controlling corporate data.
  5. Lastly, when asked about employee monitoring, it was wonderful to see that the whole room broadly agreed that “big brother” is not a good thing, and that we should instead rely on proper trust and security being put in place that would make intrusive employee monitoring unnecessary.

Data security & privacy is a subject very dear to the hearts and minds of Exponential-e. We’ve always been staunch proponents of businesses using private networks for their critical data and applications (not Internet); and we’ve always believed that the mission critical cloud belongs on the clean-side of your firewall. Today we’re investing heavily in new technologies like Desktops-as-a-Service, and our enterprise grade file sync-&-share, that can be tied into the corporate directory and actively enforce company policy while providing adequate but non-intrusive monitoring and control for BYOD.

Thank you to all those that attended our event – we hope it enabled you to gain a better understanding of some of the challenges and opportunities of ICT in the Third Sector in 2015.

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