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An Introduction to OnDemand

Are You Watching Technology Trends?

I’ve asked around, and it seems that a lot of people receive major reports about new technology trends much like any other piece of media news – mostly indifference, unless the trend is immediately relevant to their life circumstances and it makes a positive impact. Maybe some among these people are “would-be techies” simply guarding themselves from information overload. If so, I can empathize.

I remember back in the early ‘80s when the development and marketing of tech trends for mainstream consumers stretched across a much longer timeline compared to that of today. In other words, thirty years ago most of the public had more time to process and adapt to the latest trends in technology. Nowadays, does even a week pass without major news about developing trends in social media, mobile hardware/software development, or just anything Web related? Not often.

The Times They Are A-Changin’

In 2014, it’s a different world – a radically different world. Emerging tech trends arrive on the scene quickly enough to demand almost constant monitoring in order for us to remain technologically fully informed; hence, my empathy for those aforementioned “would-be techies.”

A portion of those masses comprise people occupying positions within a variety of non-profit organizations such as churches and schools. And some of those people wonder if there’s a clear path of applicable knowledge blazing through the dense and rapidly expanding jungle of technology trends. Perhaps you’re one of those people.

What Your Organization Wants – And Doesn’t Want

I’m convinced that clearer paths through that jungle do exist, and finding your clearer path depends on knowing what your organization wants to accomplish with technology. Listing those “wants” is relatively easy.

Just as important, though, you must know what your organization does not want from technology. Have you ever approached things from that angle? It can complicate the planning and research, but it can save you much time and expense in the long run.

Here’s a simple example: Due to unexpectedly swift growth, there’s a need for your church to ramp up its administration capabilities. You might say, “It’s time to invest in a more robust church or school management software solution. We’ll also expand the number of our administrative staff positions and purchase more equipment in order to run an efficient local area network.”

That’s what you and your organization want to do. At least you think that’s what you want to do. But, think about this…

If your organization had the choice, would it choose to carry the following responsibilities?

  • Maintaining and updating the church or school software
  • Purchasing and maintaining data servers
  • Securing and backing up the data

The choice would likely be to avoid those labors and their associated expenses. These things are among what your organization doesn’t want from technology. After all, your organization carefully budgets time and financial resources as a part of its mission.

Here’s some good news: There is an alternative to your organization shouldering all of its own technology-related overhead.
Where’s that alternative?

It’s in the Clouds

Even if you intentionally stand outside the tech trend information circle, by now you’ve possibly heard the terms “cloud computing” or “the cloud.” If not, here’s a good introduction to the subject. The cloud is one tech trend that I recommend you don’t ignore. It’s here, and chances are you’re already involved anyway. According to senior cloud architect Beth Cohen, “Anyone with a smartphone or a tablet is living on the cloud – whether they know it or not.”1

Okay. But, what does that have to do with performing the multitude of administrative office tasks required in your organization? The answer to that question depends on your organization’s commitment to leveraging technology towards administrative efficiency and effectiveness.

Cloud Technology Is Your Answer                  

In what practical ways can your organization leverage cloud technology to its benefit?

  • Having your organization’s administrative/management software delivered via the internet (which means 24/7 access from any device with a live internet connection).
  • Someone else ensuring your software is maintained, backed up, and updated on dependable servers?
  • Someone else ensuring your precious data is secure – highly secure.

Most importantly, imagine that “someone else” possessing a thirty-plus-year track record reflecting the highest business integrity and technological competence.

All of those potential benefits for your organization flow from a technology model called SaaS. The term SaaS stands for “Software as a Service.” With the SaaS model, your software is hosted outside of your organization and delivered via the cloud. So, your organization is liberated from all the maintenance concerns associated with multiple desktop software installs and on-site dedicated servers.

ACS Technologies offers a top-notch SaaS solution for your organization. It’s called OnDemand.

Preparing Your Invitation to OnDemand

In this Invitation to OnDemand, among other things, you’ll read a couple of testimonies from people who actually work with OnDemand. They’re “in the trenches” just like you every day, and they’re experiencing the best of what cloud technology has to offer their organizations. In the end, we’ll tie it all in and invite you to embrace OnDemand.

Is Your Organization Prepared for the Unexpected? 

In other words, what kind of positive impact does the software that your organization uses make within the context of hectic weekly administrative tasks? Let’s face it, there’s no glory in tasks such as creating funds, running reports, organizing class schedules, or enrolling class attendees. However, a lack of so-called glory doesn’t mean a lack of importance. No. We know better than that. Actually, such tasks are among the most vital to your organization – administratively speaking. And such tasks aren’t immune from the unexpected.

For example, if your organization is a church, it might organize and host an annual Vacation Bible School (VBS) during the summer. What if enrollment greatly exceeds expectations? That’s the story of one pastor I spoke to whose church has used OnDemand for a number of years now. Recently, on the first day of VBS, attendance was much higher than anticipated. The pastor was able to quickly round up a few extra laptops, establish internet connections, and log in to the church’s OnDemand account on each laptop.

Thanks to SaaS technology in the form of OnDemand, the pastor and his staff were able to immediately convert each of those laptops into a check-in station for students. The church avoided what could have been significant delays to the VBS schedule on opening day. Is this the kind of flexibility your organization wants helping it overcome unexpected challenges?

Does Your Organization Have the Mobility It Needs? 

The same pastor told me that OnDemand has also increased the administrative productivity of his church due to the mobility of the product. Several years ago, he sustained significant physical injuries in an accident. The injuries required him to spend many weeks convalescing at home.

But in some ways, it was like he didn’t miss a day of work. Once again, thanks to OnDemand, the pastor was able to operate his ACS software with the same functionality as if he were sitting in his office at church.

He further testified that his church staff members have gained similar benefits when they’ve been home with personal or family member illnesses. With OnDemand, they can access their work wherever they have a reliable internet connection. So, whether they’re at home with a sick child or anywhere else for that matter, important work can get done.

He finished our conversation with the words “ACS OnDemand takes care of us.” That’s a remarkable statement considering the volume of administrative tasks that pastor and his staff handle every day.

Even When Times are Hard, There are Solutions

Not all stories from OnDemand users relate ideal circumstances. Just surviving can be an everyday challenge for some organizations. I spoke with a church office administrator who told such a story. Since the departure of the founding pastor, the church has experienced a decline in membership and attendance over the past year or so. Sadly, that resulted in a decrease in revenue as well as administrative and ministerial staff.

Undaunted amidst those circumstances and determined to survive, the remaining church leadership and staff embraced a much leaner approach to the daily administration of the church. A major part of that plan involved transitioning to OnDemand. Immediately, precious time and money were saved with the automation that OnDemand brought. There were no more server maintenance requirements and manual ACS software updates.

Furthermore, the mobility of OnDemand access has enabled the creative thinking of the staff to flow regarding how their church can maximize the effectiveness of its mission amidst its current challenges. With OnDemand, staff can work remotely and rotate being onsite at the church building. As a result, they’ve emptied some of the office space to be used for critical forms of ministerial outreach such as counseling – all because their administrative work can be accomplished in the cloud. This church’s very survival is bound up in its embracing of cloud technology.

Consider This… 

Multiple stories are told by organizations with diverse circumstances, missions, and needs. I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on your organization’s story and how the success of its story depends on the wisdom of looking ahead. The internet has an amazing future, and the cloud will continue to expand. Now’s the time to take notice of what cloud technology offers your organization. Your organization’s existence may depend on it. That’s no exaggeration. Regarding the cloud, don’t be like some organizations twenty years ago with the attitude “We don’t really need the internet.”

You’re Cordially Invited

With OnDemand, there’s no wasted technology potential for your organization – it’s all action with excellent results delivered to you.



Jason Dailey is a technical writer for ACS Technologies.

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