by Jiten Patel

Sun Rises In Seattle … it sure does

May 21, 20094 mins
IT Leadership

Sun Rises in Seattle

Got back early this morning from Seattle (having caught a red-eye) … And felt really energetic, excited, enthusiastic, eager and restless. 

And yes, I was sleepless in Seattle, but not because of late nights …

This week I attended the NetHope CIO Member Summit on the Microsoft campus in Seattle.  NetHope is a nonprofit IT consortium of leading international NGOs (non-governmental organizations) serving tens of millions of end beneficiaries each year in 150+ countries.  They’ve attracted millions of dollars in donations, discounts and training from technology companies to support their efforts.

The Summit focuses on discussing critical needs of the member organizations, prioritizing these, forming cross-organizational project teams to work on the key projects, leveraging each member’s strengths, experiences, and expertise, and sharing of technology best practices and technology itself.  

This was my first Summit;  we are not yet full-fledged members of NetHope as yet, but Bill Brindel, NetHope CEO, was kind enough to extend an invite.

The level of collaboration amongst members was amazing, and truly refreshing. There was a strong esprit de corps amongst the members, which you do not ordinarily see anywhere especially not across twenty-six organizations and some of whom are competitors (for donation dollars and otherwise).  I tip my hat to all of them.

To add further luster to the shine, Microsoft availed themselves and not just through the use of their facilities but by providing open access to their key product managers, who were passionate and not just about their subject-matter but also about wanting to improve the lives of billions of poor around the globe. They were very insightful, knowing who their audience was they tailored their presentations to address our needs … i.e. how to leverage their products whilst working in challenging environments where electricity comes and goes, broadband Internet connectivity bobbles up and down, and the broadband is more like getting drops from a leaky faucet (not a great analogy, but it is the best I can think of … as drowsiness and sleepiness is catching up on me).

The trip was the icing on the cake / the cherry on top / cerise sue le gateau … you get the drift and the gist, at least I hope.

Here is one thing that Microsoft does such a lousy job of, communicating all the good that they do. I am not talking about the Gates Foundation but of Microsoft itself.  Even their own staffs, especially their account teams do not know that they help in a myriad of ways – software donations is an easy one but also by availing their technical resources.  Do not stop this good work (keep it up) Mr. Ballmer, we desperately need such assistance especially when we are all struggling to get access to funds, in our case from the Capital Markets, to extend our outreach to touch millions of people in need.  

Now since I am on this bandwagon then I must also acknowledge the good work done by other technology vendors via NetHope – CISCO, INTEL, and others.  

I will echo the words of my friend Daryl Skoog, of Opportunity International, that it was like drinking from a fire hose … access to so much information, and very good info at that.

Then there was the wonderful experience that all of us had last night at a restaurant in Seattle, at FareStart ( … check out the website , and if you are not inspired then you need to get your head tested is all I can say. And even here I met /bumped into some truly wonderful people from Microsoft.

All in all it was a truly worthwhile trip in many ways.