An outsider’s view of an open Blackbaud

March 21, 2016 Travis Warren

In this election year, we have all heard the term “Washington outsider.”  It’s been mentioned in almost every debate at some point with a notion that an outsider can bring new blood, can break down “establishment’s” wall, can open the closed doors.  Well, I am not going to talk politics, but I would like to share my view as a former outsider, a Blackbaud outsider, who is now an insider witnessing an evolution.

Competing against Blackbaud for years, the number one notion I constantly heard from schools was that Blackbaud was closed, to other vendors and partners, and not willing to play nice.  Now that I am a part of Blackbaud, I have a better understanding of why that perception existed.  The reality is the underlying technology didn’t lend itself to be 3rd party / partner friendly.   The interest to be more open was there, just not feasible.  That’s all changing, rapidly.

If you were at bbcon last October or have followed Blackbaud news, you may have heard about Blackbaud SKY. Blackbaud SKY is the modern, integrated and open cloud for the global philanthropic community.  But it’s more than just technology, it’s a movement across all of Blackbaud.  A movement to fully harness the power of a total solution including a similar user experience and shared services across all products, and to be open to allow partners and customers to extend the functionality of our solutions.

The K-12 team here at Blackbaud is also embracing this movement but to do so effectively, we have to make thoughtful yet tough decisions. Decisions, I believe, that will shape a path forward to create and sustain an open future for our clients.  One of these early decisions is to discontinue integration WhippleHill built between the "ON" products and providers like Senior Systems, Veracross and PCR.  Initially, this may seem like a move back to being closed, but it’s actually quite the opposite.   We have many priorities for our product resources to make them the best they can be and maintaining individual integrations is quite taxing on these resources.   Rather than continue to develop one-off solutions, we are investing heavily in our open API.  Our open API, again,  is a cloud-based solution that allows partners and schools (if they desire) to create robust, customizable, web-based integrations with the “ON” products.  I am excited about the possibilities an open API represents.  The ability to work with partners, customers, and even competitors to fully extend the value of the “ON” products and to provide our schools with what they have always asked for, one solution easily connecting their whole school’s data and experiences.

Continue to follow this blog and join us at our K-12 User Conference this July in Boston for future details.


About the Author

Travis Warren

Travis Warren is the SVP and President of Blackbaud’s K-12 Group, where he leads the team moving the combined suite of products built to connect the whole school forward with the same vision. Travis frequently speaks about technology and communications, and runs hands-on workshops to help schools engage the newest mediums in their communications strategy. Travis lives in Amherst, NH, with his wife and four children. Away from work, he enjoys coaching football, digital photography and serving as a trustee for his alma mater, Proctor Academy.

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