There are three fairly standard reactions I receive when I am telling people about the work Microsoft is undertaking with Governments and community partners to improve lives and drive national competitiveness and first up is usually surprise! I find people are generally unaware of the breadth and depth of work we are doing at a grass roots level in areas such as access to technology, skills training, disaster response and the fight against human trafficking. They are also generally surprised by the amount of this work being undertaken specifically in Asia Pacific.

Second reaction is usually admitting they had never thought of technology having such impact outside the technology sector. People rarely think of the technology inside robotics that increases productivity in manufacturing or technology to allow Governments to better plan and deliver services to their constituents. Technology to most people is the IT Manager doing and IT job when they start to see the demonstrations as to how technology is improving hospitals and saving lives they are genuinely surprised.

The third reaction is along the lines of "I know a person or organisation that could benefit from one of those programs and I will have to let them know about it”. So as 2010 was drawing to a close we decided it was time to try and spread the word and showcase the work not only of Microsoft but also of our community and Government partners across the region.

A two-day event - the inaugural Accelerating Asia Pacific 2010 – was launched on December 14 to share what we stand for and are investing in across Asia Pacific. The event attracted more than 55 journalists and analysts representing local newspapers, industry publications, international news wires, and other regional press.

Opened by the newly announced Area Vice President for Asia Pacific (and former Country Manager for Australia) Tracey Fellows, the morning session was followed by Orlando Ayala, Corporate Vice President, Chairman of Emerging Markets, Chief Advisor to the COO, who delivered a keynote address on “National Competitiveness - Asia in the Global Context” discussing the important role of cloud computing in the context of national competitiveness and the way in which the IT industry drives both social and economic impact for local economies. 

Tracey Fellows, Area Vice President for Asia Pacific at Microsoft addresses the Summit

Over the course of the first day, the audience heard stories about how technology and Microsoft’s partnerships are having an impact on addressing societal issues like, child safety, education, workforce development and disaster response.

Bindu Sharma, Policy Director, International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC), Singapore making a point during the Technology to Protect Those Most Vulnerable session during the summit which highlighted how technology can drive major scientific breakthroughs and help solve some of the world's most pressing societal issues such as child online safety. The discussion covered how technology can track online predators and the importance of the first 24 - 48 hours when a child goes missing. Also pictured are Bindu’s fellow panelists Cecilia Flores-Oebanda, Founder & President, Visayan Forum Foundation, Philippines and Deborah Henry, Founder, Save Education Centre, Malaysia.

On the second day of the event, speakers showcased ways in which Microsoft solutions are enabling the healthcare, education and defence sectors to deliver services to the public and how government are using technology to raise their economic productivity and national competitiveness.   All up the event comprised of more than 40 speakers from within Microsoft, our non-profit partners, government and industry.

If you would like to see more videos of all the presentations and demonstrations are available for viewing here.