Why using a low-code CRM is a game changer for nonprofit organizations

A low-code CRM platform allows for rapid digitization and innovation and greater cost savings for nonprofits and NGOs.

It is a common misconception that customer relationship management (CRM) software is only of use in a business environment, which relies heavily on the connections it maintains with its customers. Of course, nonprofits and NGOs don’t work with customers in the traditional sense, so the word ‘customer’ in the acronym can be misleading.

That said, NGOs do work with volunteers, who are analogous to employees, and benefactors, who are analogous to customers. Managing these relationships is broadly similar to how it is in any industry, in that success hinges on factors like personalization and having timely access to the right information. That, in essence, is what CRM is all about.

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What is vendor lock-in, and what does it mean for low-code software development?

Many low-code platforms are closed-source ecosystems tied to specific vendors, which means vendor lock-in is a common concern – but there are exceptions.

If you purchased music over the Apple iTunes store prior to March 2009, you could only play it in the iTunes media player software. Everything in your music library was locked into that one ecosystem. If you wanted to use another media player or device that didn’t support the iTunes app, your only option was to buy all your music again from another vendor. This is a textbook example of vendor lock-in.

While vendor lock-in is frustrating for consumers, it can be disastrous for businesses to the point that it can completely derail their digital transformation strategies. It’s a common issue in cloud computing, for example, because many vendors take deliberate measures to prevent or discourage their customers from switching to another vendor. As such, it can be very difficult to migrate databases between platforms, and there may be high data egress fees when doing so.

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How low code is reducing costs and empowering innovation in healthcare

Healthcare providers must deliver modern, digital services, but many are held back outdated legacy systems. Here’s how low code can help close the gap.

Electronic health records (EHR) and the exchange of digital information underpin the delivery and management of any modern health service. Yet despite recent advancements, especially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, many of today’s EHR systems are outdated, existing on legacy architecture that results in delays in – or even a lack of – the exchange of essential health information between services.

Addressing these issues has long proven extremely challenging and expensive, with projects frequently going over budget and taking much longer than anticipated. For example, in 2013, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) abandoned patient record system was described as the biggest IT failure ever seen, ultimately wasting approximately £10 billion. The cause of the debacle was put down to the government’s inability to successfully manage large IT contracts.

Cases such as these are why the healthcare sector has been relatively slow to innovate over the past decade. However, a lack of innovation is not the answer to mitigating risk and enabling better patient outcomes. If EHR and other vital healthcare systems aren’t kept up to date, they will be unable to keep up with demands and expectations that set the standards for a modern healthcare service. After all, in healthcare, time isn’t just money – it can also be the difference between sickness and health.

While there are many potential barriers to innovation in healthcare, arguably one of the biggest is the shortage of specialized IT skills, which has also led to a significant increase in the costs of IT projects. This results in delays and inadequate technical solutions that fail to meet their goals.

Low code solutions aim to address the technical barriers by making development much more accessible, more affordable, and much faster. By reducing the engineering effort required, the low-code approach provides an easily scalable architecture that can integrate with numerous data sources, thus facilitating seamless transactions of EHRs and other healthcare data. An open-source solution goes even further by allowing healthcare organizations to preserve total control over how they govern and protect sensitive data like patient health information (PHI).

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How low code can help financial institutions deliver modern digital services

Established financial institutions face rising competition from digital-only alternatives, making clear the case for using low code to enable rapid innovation.

The steps involved in almost any type of financial transaction are largely the same across the board. This makes the routine ways we interact with financial institutions prime candidates for app-based account management and automated workflows. It’s also why neobanks and other digital-only financial services have become enormously popular in recent years.

Despite this, the actual user experience that clients have when working with financial services varies dramatically. Sometimes, these experiences are unnecessarily lengthy or complicated, particularly when it comes to the application and enforcement of security controls. More often than not, this is down to the fact that established financial institutions often heavily reliant on legacy architecture, which is harder to integrate with today’s software solutions. Financial startups, on the other hand, face different challenges, such as limited resources for developing modern app-based services.

Developing a bespoke financial services application from scratch using the traditional method is time-consuming, expensive, and subject to numerous testing and refinement cycles. Low-code solutions can help reduce that technical debt by facilitating fast and agile development, applying visualized and fully automated workflows, and continuous testing and feedback.

Given that financial workflows, such as transferring funds and opening accounts, are so similar within their respective domains, low code is particularly suitable for driving innovation in the sector. By providing the underlying framework, including business logic represented as drag-and-drop visual components, low code makes it easy to develop branded financial services applications in minimal time.

This is also why the banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI) sector now accounts for almost a third of the entire low-code market. However, given the highly regulated nature of the sector, and the fact that regulatory regimes vary significantly between jurisdictions, there are still significant barriers to its adoption.

Digital sovereignty, which is especially important in the financial services space is, after all, far harder to achieve when relying entirely on closed-source ecosystems – which most low-code platforms are. However, there are exceptions, like Corteza, which gives businesses complete freedom over how and where they host and manage their data. This makes the combination of open source licensing and low-code development a natural fit for driving innovation in the finance sector.

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Data privacy and regulatory compliance in low-code platforms

Concerns around data privacy and regulatory compliance shouldn’t derail the adoption of low-code platforms. Here’s how to ensure low code doesn’t equal high risk.

The adoption of no-code and low-code technologies is soaring. Gartner predicts that by 2025 70% of new enterprise applications will be created in low-code development environments, up from just 25% in 2020. This growth accompanies an acute shortage of professional software developers in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, businesses and non-profit organizations alike face constant pressure to innovate rapidly.

No-code and low-code technologies present a way to close that gap, since they allow almost anyone to become a software developer. As co-founder and CEO of GitHub Chris Wanstrath famously said back in 2017, the future of coding is no coding at all.

However, while the value of low-code is undeniable, we cannot afford to lose sight of one of the biggest barriers to its adoption – data privacy and security. Low code doesn’t necessarily mean low risk. After all, allowing more people in the enterprise to get involved in development can naturally lead to creating new vulnerabilities, such as lack of oversight and visibility.

Adopting low-code software development is especially challenging for enterprises which have relied on in-house development for decades. As is the case with any transformation, the risks of something going wrong are ever-present, and adopting low-code platforms is no exception. On the other hand, the costliest words in business are ‘we’ve always done it this way’. That’s why digital transformation must always approach privacy, security, and regulatory compliance by design and default. Here’s what that means in the context of low-code development.

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How low code can become a driving force in the shift to eGovernment

Government organizations face growing pressure from citizens to deliver more efficient public services. Here’s how low code can empower eGovernment initiatives.

If there’s a silver lining to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s how it led to the acceleration of digital transformation, particularly in sectors that have traditionally lagged behind when it comes to innovation. The government sector is one of those sectors, with bloated bureaucracies facing growing criticism from both the media and the general public.

Although governments might not manufacture goods or sell services, their job is to secure and protect the rights of their citizens. To that end, citizens and businesses alike rely on essential government services ranging from renewing public documents to filing tax returns to voting in elections. How governments deliver those services is falling under increasing scrutiny.

Governments face an urgent and growing demand from their constituents to provide innovative digital services that are more accessible and efficient to the general public. Enter the new era of eGovernment, in which the application of digital communications and online platforms leads to increased efficiency, transparency, and citizen participation.

However, despite the rapid advancement of eGovernment initiatives in recent years, there’s still plenty of room for improvement at regional, state, and national levels. Most governments worldwide are still struggling to modernize and replace legacy applications to integrate next-generation digital ecosystems.

The combination of low-code software development and open-source licensing is the perfect solution to the challenge. While low code is ideally tailored to governance across agencies and digital environments and public sector collaboration, open source ensures digital sovereignty in a world where the vast majority of the world’s proprietary technology is owned and operated by US-headquartered tech giants.

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How open-source software can help nonprofits achieve their data equity goals

By making software development more accessible, open source and low code platforms help nonprofits achieve true data equity to further their causes.

The world’s four biggest technology companies – Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, and Amazon – are all headquartered in the US and have a combined value exceeding $7 trillion. That’s far in excess of the entire GDP of Japan, the world’s third largest economy.

With the world in the midst of a digital revolution, and the future heavily orientated around data, the immense and wholly disproportionate economic gains of the largest technology companies highlight the growing global problem of data inequity.

We live in a time where, largely regardless of where we live in the world, our personal data is ultimately under the control of US technology giants and, by extension, US jurisdiction. Their business models have become strongly reliant on collecting personal data from people all over the world and exploiting it for targeted advertising. To make matters worse, and in spite of new regulations like GDPR and CCPA, they’ve often done so without informed consent as well. At the same time, the sheer volume of data these companies have has brought not only massive profit gains, but also heralded in a new era of surveillance capitalism.

For NGOs and nonprofits, data equity is emerging as an essential consideration. After all, they face constant pressure to adopt more transparent practices to earn the continued support of their volunteers and donors and to better serve their beneficiaries. To do that, they must not only practice what they preach, but also understand the implications of data inequity in an increasingly technology-focused world.

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How nonprofits can use low code to drive innovation

Nonprofits face a growing demand for digital solutions that help them expand their missions. Here’s how low-code platforms can help them do just that.

Low-code software development is often praised for facilitating the rapid delivery of enterprise apps at a time when digital transformation must be agile and continuous. However, although nonprofits share these same challenges when it comes to digital innovation, they also face some unique challenges of their own.

Chief among the challenges is the fact that NGOs and nonprofits rarely have the same degree of financial backing that major enterprises have. Hiring talented software developers to build applications from scratch, in a way that incorporates privacy, security, and data sovereignty by design, is often far beyond what their budgets allow.

At the same time, the philanthropic space is entirely built on trust. Donors and regulators alike expect complete transparency into how and where their budgets are spent. What they do with donor information is another key area, especially in the case of nonprofits that operate across borders, where concerns about digital sovereignty factor in. These factors are much harder to address if digital innovation results in heavy overspending, lengthy delays, or vendor lock-in.

Low-code promises to make software development more equitable, but the truth is that most low-code development platforms (LCDPs) are tailored for business use. These platforms tend to serve specific target markets, such as sales and marketing teams in traditional enterprises – areas that have very different needs and priorities when it comes to nonprofit organizations.

Fortunately, open source is a natural fit for low code, as well as a natural fit for nonprofits. By empowering data equity and sovereignty, open-source low-code platforms give nonprofits the opportunity to leverage the inherent benefits of low code, albeit without the risks of sovereignty and vendor lock-in concerns.

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5 essentials to consider when choosing a low-code platform

Low-code software development has become a vital enabler of digital transformation, but with many vendors to choose from, navigating the marketplace isn’t easy.

Picking the right low-code platform can be difficult, and not just because there are hundreds of vendors to choose from. Selecting the right platform is also a significant responsibility, not least because the solution you choose will likely come to play an integral role in your ongoing digital transformation journey. In this article, we’ll explore some of the key considerations when evaluating potential low-code vendors.

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3 ways open-source software helps nonprofits keep up with data protection demands

As the driving force behind the future of data sovereignty, open-source software is the natural fit for nonprofits seeking to adopt modern digital solutions.

NGOs and nonprofits face many of the same threats to their data and digital assets as large enterprises. The fundamental difference is that they rarely have the budgets to implement the latest enterprise-grade data-protection measures and hire top expertise in the space. In fact, according to the CyberPeace Institute, 86% of NGOs lack cybersecurity plans.

As a result, many philanthropic ventures are highly vulnerable to threats like cyberattacks and data leaks, with half of NGOs reporting being targeted in recent years. At the same time, they face the same pressures from industry regulators as the business world to protect personally identifiable data.

Perhaps the most sobering fact about cyberthreats facing nonprofits is how philanthropic work itself makes them a target. Many cybercriminals make a point of exploiting peoples’ goodwill by launching targeted social engineering scams with a view to stealing donations away from good causes. For example, charities in the UK lost £8.6 million to fraud between April 2020 and March 2021. Naturally, when this happens, donors start losing confidence, with potentially crippling impacts on legitimate nonprofits and their beneficiaries.

Of course, data protection isn’t just about protecting against malicious threats, but also about protecting data from threats like accidental leaks or compliance failures. In a sector that relies immensely on trust, reputation, and accountability, these challenges must be tackled together as one. At the same time, however, NGOs and nonprofits must address the challenges in a way that doesn’t end up interfering with their long-term policy goals.

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