Presenting with NetHope @ Microsoft


NetHope LogoI’m here on my third day in Seattle, in the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington. This place is fantastic, and yesterday I swear I saw Steve Ballmer (CEO of Microsoft) walking down the corridor! We also did a tour of Microsoft’s vision for how we will work in the next 3-7 years, round table video conferencing was particularly exciting and will be released later this year by Microsoft!

Yesterday I did my presentation for NetHope on the work I’ve been doing for the past 9 weeks in Bangkok. The response was fantastic, it seems all these global NGO’s are looking to build collaboration portals for their organisations! A lot of them are using Sharepoint because it is specifically designed out of the box for an easy to administer collaborative workspace. In fact, my own vendor selection for NetHope’s collaboration Intranet chose to use Microsoft Office Sharepoint 2007.

However, the problem several of the NGO’s have with using Sharepoint is field access. Field access refers to the small field offices that do the work out in the field for the end beneficiaries. These offices are numerous, especially for large NGO’s like World Vision that have over 1000 offices world wide, and only around 50% of them with some connection to the Internet! If you imagine a small office in the middle of a village in Africa, using limited dial up (if they’re lucky!) to access the internet, then you get the idea of what kind of problem these guys have!

Most portals nowadays are developed for the “broadband” internet, they don’t worry too much anymore that a page may have (in the case of Sharepoint) 500kb of JavaScript to load just to provide all the fancy dynamic features on a page.

It appears to be a common problem for the NGO’s, and its interesting to see the whole IT world rushing towards rich internet applications to take advantage of the bandwidth we are now taking for granted in the western world, while over half the world barely has internet, let alone anything faster than a 56k modem (and remember 56k is under “ideal” conditions!)

I will be doing some more research on this over the next few days and posting some ideas/solutions to this problem.