Allyson Fryhoff, managing director of Nonprofits at Amazon Web Services (AWS), recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz regarding the results of a recent survey that reported that more than 75 percent of nonprofits saw an increase in demand from their customers following the start of the pandemic.
In addition, Fryhoff also discussed how the AWS Nonprofit team is helping its customers improve their cloud platforms and implement data analytics as well as address many of the talent recruitment challenges across the nonprofit, technology and federal sectors during the latest Executive Spotlight interview.
You can read the full interview with Allyson Fryhoff below:
ExecutiveBiz: A recent survey found that more than 75 percent of nonprofits saw increased demand for their services after the pandemic, but expenses also significantly increased. What can you tell us about the most significant challenges facing nonprofits to modernize their organizations?
Allyson Fryhoff: “For nonprofits, it’s not uncommon to be strapped for resources. And the last few years have brought those challenges into even greater focus. But we have also seen that the drive to modernize and digitally transform has accelerated.
Nonprofits we work with are adopting technology to utilize their resources more effectively and efficiently. At the same time, we know that leveraging technology to achieve their missions is not easy with limited resources and staff.
A 2020 Salesforce.org report found that the vast majority (85%) of nonprofits surveyed said technology is the key to the success of their organizations, yet less than one quarter (23%) actually had a long-term strategy and vision for how technology would be used in their organization.
And lack of access to the most up-to-date IT infrastructure services should not stand in the way of nonprofits from accomplishing their mission. We’ve heard from nonprofits that they often lack the resources to really take advantage of technology. AWS is focused on removing those barriers so that our nonprofit customers can benefit fully from the advantages of cloud.”
ExecutiveBiz: With the AWS Nonprofit team providing agile, responsive and mission-focused cloud capabilities, how are you helping your customers improve their cloud platforms and benefiting their data analytics?
Allyson Fryhoff: “At AWS, we’re focused on helping nonprofit customers use the cloud to increase their impact and solve some of the world’s most pressing issues. Cloud computing enables nonprofit organizations to focus on their missions, not their IT infrastructure.
AWS offers a broad set of services that can help – things like computing power, storage options, networking, and databases, delivered on demand and available in seconds with pay-as-you-go pricing.
With the cloud, nonprofits can run lean, freeing them to be fast, agile, and even global, while still being efficient with IT spend, paying only for what they use so they can focus resources on their important work.
We also know that nonprofits rely on large amounts of data to serve their stakeholders, deliver programs, and report on impact. For many organizations, the first step in a technology transformation begins with centralizing data that is siloed across a variety of systems and sources.
Our nonprofit customers are looking to extract actionable mission insights from their data, but it can often be challenging to capture, store, and analyze all the data being generated. AWS provides the most comprehensive set of services for putting data to work in order to make better decisions, respond faster, deliver mission outcomes, and uncover new opportunities.
We’re working to make that process even easier for non-profits in partnership with Salesforce through Data Lake for Nonprofit Cloud powered by AWS – an offering that enables Salesforce Non-profit Cloud customers to automate bringing their data into an AWS Data Lake.
The solution will be available on GitHub, enabling non-profits to tailor it to their specific needs and improve the technology continuously over time.”
ExecutiveBiz: With there being some challenges related to talent and critical skill sets across the non-profit and technology sectors, what is AWS doing to help improve training and learning opportunities in the industry?
Allyson Fryhoff: “At AWS, we really pride ourselves in turning our customers’ challenges into opportunities to invent and innovate. A major challenge our nonprofit customers are facing is upskilling – or developing the workforce and building their capacity.
In order to keep up with the changes in technology, it’s important to build an IT workforce that understands what the new technologies are and help them stay ahead of the technology learning curve.
We’re committed to expanding the availability of cloud technology training. We want to make sure the barriers are as low as possible for our customers and our partners to access the cloud services they need. That’s why we announced in 2020 that by 2025 AWS will help 29 million people globally grow their technical skills with free cloud computing skills training.
We are providing training opportunities through existing AWS-designed programs, as well as developing new courses to meet a wide variety of schedules and learning goals. The training ranges from self-paced online courses—designed to help individuals update their technical skills—to intensive upskilling programs that can lead to new jobs in the technology industry.
This commitment builds on some existing AWS programs, such as:
- AWS Educate, our global initiative to provide students and educators with access to our technology in order to accelerate cloud-related learning and help train the cloud IT workforce.
- AWS re/Start – this program is a full-time, 12-week, high-impact course that prepares unemployed or underemployed individuals for careers in cloud computing and connects more than 90 percent of graduates with job interview opportunities.
- Our Cloud Learning Pathways offer learning tracks made up of 30+ hours of curriculum across job families like Cloud Architect and Software Developer – and a Job Board with internships and entry-level cloud jobs from employers around the world.”
ExecutiveBiz: We often discuss digital transformation from the technical or capability side. What are some of the unique challenges that you’ve seen on the business side that haven’t been addressed or discussed enough?
Allyson Fryhoff: “A lot of the biggest challenges for organizations to move to the cloud aren’t technical, they’re about people and culture. The biggest differences between organizations that talk about moving to the cloud, and those that actually do it and are having the most success often comes down to a few key things:
- First, the senior leadership team needs to be aligned and truly committed that they want to move to the cloud. They need to set the vision as to how the organization will be able to better meet and exceed their outcome goals through use of technology.
They need to be setting clear direction and expectations with the rest of the organization to get everyone on the same page and working towards the same thing. It’s easy for others to do nothing or block things if the leadership team isn’t making the move a priority and building a culture for change.
To help with this challenge, AWS hosts Working Backwards workshops – a no cost offering that helps customers align on organizational challenges and prioritize solutions to address them.
- Then, the most successful organizations moving to the cloud started with an aggressive top-down goal that focused the organization to move faster than it would have organically.
- Third, it’s really important that organizations build their employees’ capacity by training them on the cloud. This will help ensure they are comfortable with cloud concepts as part of the whole process. AWS offers free digital training and trains hundreds-of-thousands of people a year for that purpose.
- And last, sometimes we find that organizations can get paralyzed if they can’t figure out how to move every last workload. There is no need to boil the ocean. So we often work with organizations to do a portfolio analysis to assess their data and each application and build a plan for what to move short term, medium term, and last.
This helps non-profits get the benefits of the cloud for many of their applications much more quickly, and it really helps inform how they move the rest.”