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Global Summit: Day Three

You’ve heard me say before that technology is no longer a “nice to have” but a “necessity.” In order for each of us to fully realize the vision that drives our organizations and to scale our impact to meet global needs, digital transformation is essential.

November 8, 2018


By Lauren Woodman, CEO, NetHope

You’ve heard me say before that technology is no longer a “nice to have” but a “necessity.” In order for each of us to fully realize the vision that drives our organizations and to scale our impact to meet global needs, digital transformation is essential.

This morning’s plenary sessions featured vivid examples of what the theory of digital transformation looks like in practice.


Radha Basu, CEO of iMerit, shared the importance of Artificial Intelligence in digital transformation for business and how it will have profound impact on international development, social enterprises, and investment in all our lives. Her work with iMerit in creating the “Future of AI workforce” is truly inspirational. It impacts 1,700 people globally, enabling livelihoods for young people from vulnerable populations by servicing the private sector with bleeding edge technologies.

Speakers from Facebook, including Christopher Weasler, Global Spectrum Policy & Crisis Response Program; Laura McGorman, Public Policy Research Manager; and Annette Gevaert, head of Workplace for Good, highlighted the role Facebook plays--not just in connecting us to one another—but in building safe communities. Innovative platform tools like Safety Check, Community Help, and Workplace, as well as data partnerships like Disaster Maps all play a role in ensuring that communities stay safe during times of natural disaster. We saw much of this firsthand during the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Jed Sundwall, Head of Global Open Data for AWS, outlined the essential role of data for every nonprofit organization and the actionable insights it can provide. He discussed how to develop a data-driven vision for your organization and how to find new insights to enhance mission execution.


Justin Spelhaug, General Manager of Microsoft, was joined on stage by Art DelaCruz, COO of Team Rubicon, to illuminate how an enterprise solution has resulted in collaborative exponential impact with the potential to benefit the entire nonprofit sector. Microsoft and Team Rubicon built a volunteer management system that borrowed from existing intelligent business applications like Microsoft Dynamics, but was fully customized to their needs. As a result, Team Rubicon effectively manages and deploys more than 85,000 volunteers. This innovative volunteer management system, built on the nonprofit Common Data Model, will be available to the entire sector in the spring of 2019.

Gary Bolles, Chair for the Future of Work at Singularity University, challenged us as problem-solvers and innovators in the nonprofit sector to think, not as competitors, but as collaborators. Gary is legendary as a catalyst in the impact arena, helping many organizations leverage exponential thinking and technologies to deliver maximum impact so that we can make greater progress than we ever thought possible.

Following his keynote, Gary joined a panel that delved into the complexities of “The Future of Work and Learning.” It was moderated by Dianna Langley, Digital Workplace Manager of Oxfam and included panelists Paul Miller, Group CEO and Founder of the Digital Workplace Group, and Leila Toplic, NLG Tech Task Force Lead for NetHope. The panelists underscored the human-centered potential of the digital future of our work. AI, IoT, blockchain, 3D printing, and other disruptive technologies will vastly accelerate and alter the way we work during the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.” They have the promise of solving current and new problems such as global refugee issues, epidemics, and natural disaster response.

Twenty-three breakout sessions filled the afternoon agenda addressing myriad challenges and opportunities facing the nonprofit sector.

A notable one was “The Future of Identity,” moderated by Leila Toplic, which included panelists Christine Leong, Managing Director of Accenture Digital Identity Innovations; Kim Cameron, Architect of Identity for Microsoft; Rosa Akbari, Sr. Advisor, Technology for Development at Mercy Corps; and Paige Nicol, Manager, Intellectual Capital of Omidyar Network. Over 1 billion people around the world, including refugees, stateless, and forcibly displaced, lack an officially recognized ID. The resulting incisive discussion centered on Why “good” identity matters, what it will take to make it possible, and who needs to be involved, with an emphasis on the role of the nonprofit sector.


Jeremy Roche, Chief Product Officer of Unit4, outlined the new Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS) economy, and how that translates from the for-profit to the nonprofit context. He shined a light on how we can adjust how we view beneficiary needs and how we can deliver services that respond to those needs.

If you couldn’t be here in person, many of the sessions were recorded and are available on NetHope’s YouTube channel.

The day concluded with a short bus trip for Summit attendees to the Community Celebration, hosted by CDW and Unit4. The gathering took place at the iconic Guinness Storehouse, home to the thick, foamy elixir for which Dublin is famed. Guinness represents a timeless brand that has sustained its relevance for nearly 260 years. That’s something to admire and worthy of a toast (or a few).

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