NPTech News: 2013 Year in Review

Jim Lynch's picture

The NPTech News for 2013 in review features the tech story that just wouldn’t go away, and probably won’t in 2014. It’s the NSA spying scandal with its deepening info about how little digital privacy we really have. Mobile devices and their integration with social media hve had the biggest impact on NPTech. Also free Office 365 for Nonprofits launched along with three big digital inclusion initiatives. Find an expanded version of this post at the TechSoup blog.

PC Sales Declined and Mobile Sales Increased

It’s not your imagination. Mobile devices are overtaking IT. Tablet sales went up 53% in 2013 while computer sales went down 11% from the previous year. The numbers offer a different picture though. Over 300 million PCs were sold worldwide while 184 million tablets were sold. In other words, PCs aren’t going away, but mobile devices are really moving in to the nonprofit workplace. In terms of BYOD (bring your own device) strategy the biggest headache is what to do when phones and tablets get lost or stolen. This past year Google released a web-based Device Manager that allows you to locate and wipe data from an Android device.

Social Media

How to get ahead of social media was maybe the biggest NPTech trend this past year. Social media is now officially the most common thing we do online. But relatively few charities and are working with it very well. A 2013 survey from The Millennial Impact finds that charities aren’t engaging Gen Y and Gen X donors the proliferating social media channels and most importantly mobile optimized websites. We’re also continuing to see lots of articles like The Guardian’s “How charities can make better use of social media.” 
The patterns are shaking out as well. The fastest growing age group using Facebook and Google+ are people over 45. Younger people use several things like YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram. 

Office 365 for Nonprofits

In the Fall, Microsoft Office 365 for Nonprofits just became available to charities around the world at no cost in 2013. Office 365 is of course the online version of Microsoft Office that includes Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, OneNote, Publisher, and Access. It also has back-end tools including hosted Exchange and SharePoint for file serving. Charities throughout the world can request Office 365 directly from Microsoft

Free Cloud Storage

On a personal computing level, one of the things I liked this year were the bigger free cloud storage offers out there. Here are some good ones: 100 GB 100 GB
MediaFire 50 GB
MEGA 50 GB 15 GB
Google Drive 15 GB 10 GB
SkyDrive 7 GB

Big Data and the Internet of Things

Many people this year were talking about the Internet of Things (IoT) as something to watch this year. MIT Technology Review declared 2013 the year of the Internet of Things. To define it, IoT is the emerging phenomenon in which everyday objects (as opposed to humans and their mobiles and computers) are connected through the Internet to each other. These connected things combine to generate vast amounts of data about us, which is in turn consolidated into big data in the cloud. 
This all entails putting circuit boards and sensors in lots of things that are not PCs, tablets or phones. An example are the increasing number of things in your house and office that are connected to the smart grid and anticipating your moods and habits while saving energy. Cisco is calling it the ‘planetary skin’ that monitors trillions of sensors on, above, and below the earth. 
The connection with NPTech? IoT may be a bit limited to us NPTech geeks who just like innovation, but I think also to the protection of human rights. IoT and Big Data are combining to generate the copyright issue for the ages. We are now generating significant digital selves which mirror us with frightening precision. The copyright issue is that governments and companies tend to own our digital mirror selves, not us. That’s why the NSA spying scandal and digital privacy rights are the NPTech issue probably for this decade. For a more down-to-earth view of big data, check out my What Does Big Data Have to Do With Me and My Organization?

Nonprofit Technology Organization of the Year

This one was easy. This years’ Nobel Prize for Peace was awarded to the technology oriented Dutch NGO, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. To be sure there was other incredible NPTech work going on elsewhere as well.

Digital Inclusion

2013 was a big year for digital inclusion. Three major programs launched this year.
The Alliance For Affordable Internet was the latest big global digital inclusion project to launch this year. It aims to find new ways to bring affordable Internet to low-income people. TechSoup donor partners, Microsoft and Cisco are teaming up with Google, and a host of additional charities and tech companies to launch the initiative. 
Facebook’s launched just before the Alliance For Affordable Internet this past fall and with a good deal of controversy. It aims to develop very low-cost Internet on mobile phones for low-income people around the world. The controversial is that the program serves Facebook all too well. Find more on this at my, “Will Facebook’s Bridge the Global Digital Divide?”
Connect2Compete launched this past spring. It is the biggest digital inclusion project in the U.S. and is aggregating all the various digital inclusion projects in the country and also working on big national deals with telecom companies for reduced rate broadband Internet.
Anything I missed? Please comment on this blog post.
Image: TechSoup