From the Lab of Kevin Maloney, Chief of Research and Development

From the Lab of Kevin Maloney, Chief of Research and Development

For the last 15 years I have focused my energies on the research and development of Revolution Online.  I want to share some of the things I’ve been working on over that period, starting with the evolution of the application itself.

The big thing about Revolution Online is that when we first started building it, we took the time to create a strong infrastructure – from the application server components to the database to the back-end business rules processing – such that it was much more flexible and scalable than it probably needed to be at the time.  Over the years that flexibility and scalability meant we didn’t have the episodes of periodic upheaval that you often see in other tech companies. You probably know the kind of thing I’m talking about, where every few years they end up scrapping everything and starting over from scratch with a version 2, version 3, new programming languages, new database vendors, and on and on.

At ROI Solutions we don’t really have versions – the closest thing we have to a version number is today’s date.  Instead we have a constantly evolving platform that can be extended in whatever new ways our clients need. While the user interface is dramatically different compared to what we started out with, the backbone of the system is similar to what it was 12 years ago and it is still very strong.

Behind the scenes in the lab, we monitor a lot of statistics about Revolution Online and its use by our clients: what parts of the application are getting the most action, what reports are being scheduled, processing times for uploads, client log-ins, credit card processing by card type.  It’s fascinating to witness all these stats and continue to learn from them. One thing I’ve been looking at lately is the kinds of things that our power users are doing – the people who author their own scripts and execute their own SQL queries. In any given week, Revolution Online users execute over 4,000 custom SQL queries.

There are a few other developments that have me pretty excited lately. First, is that we’ve teamed up with a world-class Data Science company to explore ways to use advanced analytics and machine learning to improve our clients’ marketing effectiveness.

We also recently launched our Constituent Care module. In this project we worked with the same design team that collaborated on High Touch and a great client advisory group, with the goal of streamlining the work flow of users who deal with donors on the front lines, whether it’s telephone service or email engagement. It’s now in active use by a number of clients.

People sometimes ask me what the future holds in nonprofit data management.  While I don’t have a crystal ball, and it’s hard to predict what the next advances in tech will mean for our clients, I promise we will be ready for it.