A Customer-Centric Approach to Transforming Technology Pro Bono

Customers are at the core of VMware’s mission. That is why VMware engineers software that gives its customers freedom from constraints, empowering them to build capacity and scale at speed to accomplish their missions and move forward. VMware’s culture of possibility is fueled by its people’s curiosity and passion to turn the impossible into the possible and realize the unlimited potential for the future. VMware people live this EPIC2 culture every day as technology pioneers at work and active global citizens in their communities.

Technology Pro BonoVMware people transform technology to empower their customers, and they enable nonprofits to build capacity. The concept of capacity building is the premise of the VMware Foundation’s Kernel & Cache program, and it inspired the inaugural research paper by the VMware Foundation, Transforming Technology Pro Bono.

In collaboration with Taproot Foundation, the VMware Foundation conducted global focus groups and interviews to develop this practical approach to engaging technology talent for nonprofit capacity building. While technology is commonly at the core of capacity building, the social sector is severely behind the for-profit sector in investing in and fully utilizing technology. This research paper serves to advance the conversation of how technology pro bono can bridge the growing digital divide.

”Through this research, the importance of two things emerged: starting with the customer’s needs and applying established best practices. In this case, the customer is a nonprofit,” notes Jessamine Chin, director of the VMware Foundation, “When you hone in on the similarities between the social and for-profit sectors, many for-profit best practices are easily translatable.”

Adopting this new mindset shifts the technology pro bono approach. Rather than starting with the technology, it becomes customer-centric by beginning with the needs of nonprofits. Inspired by the systems development life cycle, the VMware Foundation and Taproot Foundation created the Solution Development Framework to guide stakeholders in co-creating sustainable solutions that support nonprofits in achieving their missions.

“We know just how important a need technology is for nonprofits and that many nonprofits don’t have the resources or the know-how to access that expertise,” says Liz Hamburg, Taproot Foundation president & CEO. “I am thrilled by the possibilities from this research paper because it connects nonprofits with technology solutions that transform their organizations and solve our communities’ challenges.”

Solution Development Framework

A technology pro bono project by Andrew Berenato, VMware Technology Partner, illustrates this framework’s potential for impact.  Andrew leveraged AirWatch and ProntoForms technology to digitize patient forms for Surgicorps International, a medical care nonprofit, after identifying the organization’s need for a more expeditious and accurate, centralized patient record system than the previous paper and pen forms allowed for. This technology improved Surgicorps’ operational efficiency, increased the accuracy of patient records, and enhanced the patient experience.

Whether a person is working in technology, working for a nonprofit, leading a corporate engagement program, or a donor, they can adopt this new approach and integrate the Solution Development Framework to create solutions for a brighter future. VMware has created this approach for people who want to invest in the systems, processes, and technology that increase a nonprofit’s effectiveness in achieving its mission.

Jessamine Chin says, “Together, through our collective impact, we can advance the direction of technology pro bono and help bridge the growing digital divide.”