For some reading this, you’re probably wondering who this “Gartner” is and why you should care what technology trends they’ve identified for 2013. Good question.

Gartner is a technology analyst firm that has been around since 1979 and has been pretty “spot on” with their technology predictions throughout the years. As technology continues to play an increasing role for nonprofits going into 2013, the types of technology challenges and opportunities identified by an organization like Gartner become more and more relevant for the nonprofit sector.

Gartner has identified ten technology trends that will have the most impact in 2013. We’ll explore the ten trends and what they mean for the nonprofits in a 2-part series. Below are the first five:

1. Mobile Device Battles

According to Gartner, mobile phones will overtake PC’s as the most common Web access device worldwide, and that by 2015 more than 80 percent of the handsets sold in mature markets will be smartphones.

What does this mean for nonprofits:  Mobile is real. Organizations without a mobile strategy will struggle to fully engage with supporters in a meaningful way.

2. Mobile Applications and HTML 5

According to Gartner, the market for tools to create consumer and enterprise facing apps is complex with well over 100 potential tools vendors. For the next few years, no single tool will be optimal for all types of mobile application so expect to employ several, the most popular being: native, special, hybrid, HTML 5, Message and No Client.

What does this mean for nonprofits: The choice of vendor or consultant to help with your mobile app development and mobile app strategy becomes increasingly important as the mobile world continues to grow in complexity. Organizations that take a more aggressive role with their mobile strategy will be best prepared to fully engage supporters.

3. Personal Cloud

According to Gartner, the personal cloud will gradually replace the PC as the location where individuals keep their personal content, access their services, etc. The personal cloud shifts the focus from the client device to the cloud-based services delivered across devices.

What does this mean for nonprofits: While this trend focuses more on supporters’ use of technology, we’ve discussed in previous posts the importance of cloud computing for nonprofits and the impact it will likely have, especially as costs continue to drop for a variety of cloud services. Organizations should strongly consider an investment in cloud technologies for a variety of IT services.

4. Enterprise App Stores

According to Gartner, enterprises face a complex app store future as some vendors will limit their stores to specific devices and types of apps forcing the enterprise to deal with multiple stores, multiple payment processes and multiple sets of licensing terms.

What this means for nonprofits: This will impact much larger organizations that are structured similar to a more typical for-profit enterprise IT shop. Sourcing apps and securing licenses should be part of the planning process for larger organizations.

5. The Internet of Things

According to Gartner, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a concept that describes how the Internet will expand as physical items such as consumer devices and physical assets are connected to the Internet (things such as watches, cars and refrigerators).

What does this mean for nonprofits: From a donation collection perspective, the Internet of Things can revolutionize the way nonprofits think about fundraising and engaging donors. The ability to use digital devices to make financial transactions (or to even simply engage) opens up a whole new world of possibility for nonprofit organizations to consider.

In my next post we’ll look at the remaining five 2013 technology trends identified by Gartner and what they mean for nonprofits. In the interim, here’s a link to the full list.

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