February, 2011

  • Call for young marketing minds to create a plan for Social Good; Are you one? Win a trip to Cannes!

    So you are a rising marketing star in the corporate world; could your ideas change the lives of others?

    Maybe you used to rock marketing competitions in High School and college, or maybe you just love watching “The Apprentice” and wish Donald would give you the task of using your creative mind to solve interesting marketing tasks. If you have the will to help create change, and the talent to beat the rest, you might just win a trip to the beautiful south of France!

    Microsoft Advertising, in association with USA Today, launched the 2011 Young Marketers Competition where you and a teammate can work together to develop marketing strategy for non-profit Kiva.Kiva.Logo

    So if you are under 30, work client-side, live in the US, and fancy supping espresso, while exchanging ideas to help a charity who helps others around the world, and would love learning from the top creatives and digital marketers on the Cote d’Azur… What are you waiting for?

    It really is as easy as un, deux, trois!

    1 - Register your team of two by 24th February 2011. Then, on February 25th, you will receive your challenge, which will consist of creating a marketing plan for Kiva.org, the world’s first micro-lending website for the working poor that empowers individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. Entries will be submitted online and judged by a panel of marketing professionals.

    2 - Finalists will be selected and flown to Redmond, WA, for a full day at Microsoft. You’ll present your work, tour Microsoft HQ, visit the Home of the Future and meet with a Microsoft executive.

    3 - One grand prize winning team will qualify to represent Team USA at the international Young Lions Competition at Cannes and compete against other teams from around the world.

    Microsoft Advertising has sponsored the Cannes Lions for the last 8 years, not just because it’s one of the global advertising events of the year, but because it gives young people just these kinds of opportunities to have their work showcased, to learn and to shine.

    So, if you’re eligible, check out our 2011 Young Marketers Cannes Lions Competition page and register. Then keep up-to-date with the latest on the competition by visiting us on our Facebook page.

    Don’t miss this opportunity bathe in glory of helping others, and maybe the sunshine on France’s south coast.

    Bonne chance!

  • Seattle Works Redefines its Office Space with the Cloud

    Last Friday we had the pleasure of announcing Seattle Works as one of three worthy winners of the Tech for Good Contest sponsored by Microsoft and TechSoup. With so many great entries, it was hard to pick just three winners, but Seattle Works rose to the top for their innovative use of the cloud as a way to reduce expenses and rethink collaboration during tough economic times.

    Two years ago, Seattle Works – like many nonprofits – was faced with sobering reductions in corporate and individual giving. With an eye on surviving a sustained economic downturn, the organization decided to turn to one of their guiding principles – innovation – to ensure they were positioned to not only survive, but to emerge more agile and flexible than before.

    Seattle Works took stock of their expenses to see where they could make cuts to get ahead of the new economic reality. They quickly realized their physical office space was a substantial monthly drain when they considered the total cost of rent, parking, servers, storage, phone systems, and more. Embracing their innovative core value, they decided to take a leap – to the cloud! They traded their more traditional office space for a smaller, more flexible workspace, and added “virtual workspace” by implementing Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite. “BPOS,” as it is commonly referred to, includes Microsoft Exchange Online for email and calendaring; Microsoft SharePoint Online for web-based collaboration portals and document sharing; Microsoft Office Communications Online for instant messaging and peer-to-peer audio calls; and Office Live Meeting for web and video conferencing.

    Having these tools at their disposal, but not having to host and maintain them on their own servers meant Seattle Works was able to define a new way of working. Now, Seattle Works staff still collaborates, shares files, meets and chats, but instead of commuting to the office every day, they have a flexible workspace. In their words, “We shifted our notion of what a workspace looked and felt like… When all was said and done, the net difference was almost $20,000, which – for a small nonprofit like Seattle Works – is a considerable cost savings!”

    “Microsoft BPOS has enabled our team to work from anywhere in the world – literally! We have sent weekly emails from Washington DC, from 10,000 feet in the air, and even from Egypt!” said Bevin Wong, Communications and Development Coordinator for Seattle Works. “Staff can go from an in-person meeting with a community partner in the U-District, to a staff meeting via Microsoft Live Meeting at a coffee shop across the street, to a training on the other side of town all without skipping a beat. No snow storm, car troubles or anything short of a real apocalypse can stop Seattle Works from connecting volunteers, developing emerging leaders and inspiring dialogue.”

    Further, Seattle Works has also been able to use SharePoint Online to engage their board and give them a dedicated space to collaborate and share files. “Our board is comprised of smart, talented and very busy individuals,” said Bevin. “The time that they spend on behalf of Seattle Works is time we want to maximize and use wisely.” Giving them their own space to collaborate on SharePoint helps them access what they need without rifling through old email attachments, freeing board members up to focus their time and talents where it can help Seattle Works most.

    You might say that Seattle Works has performed magic with the help of the cloud. Despite shrinking their physical office space and their expenses, the organization has grown its number of volunteers, volunteer hours, and its programs in the last year. They are truly an inspiring example of how technology can help nonprofit organizations do more with less. Congratulations to Seattle Works on their Tech for Good Award, but most importantly for tapping their innovative spirit and the potential of technology to engage volunteers and inspire new leaders in our community!

    You may not be ready to downsize your office space, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t benefit from the cloud. To learn more about how the cloud could help your organization, attend our free webinar on February 23rd, “To the Cloud: What it is and why it matters to nonprofits and public libraries,” or visit www.microsoft.com/cloud. Also, Make sure you are taking advantage of the technology resources available to you for little to no cost by visiting our technology donations page.

    Learn more and get involved with Seattle Works at www.seattleworks.org!

    Did you miss yesterday’s Tech for Good Contest post? See how Densho used technology to preserve history.

    To see all the entries in our Tech for Good Contest, visit www.showyourimpact.org/microsoft.

    For more information on Microsoft’s Citizenship effort please visit:

    Microsoft.com/Citizenship

    To stay up to date on the latest Citizenship Stories:

    Twitter.com/msftcitizenship (@msftcitizenship)

    Facebook.com/MicrosoftCitizenship

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  • Celebrating Technology for Good in Washington State

    After years of working to build the technology capacity of nonprofits, I have to admit: great examples of technology for good can be elusive. I often hear nonprofit organizations say, “We don’t know what we don’t know.” They want great examples from their peers for both inspiration and to share in the lessons learned. They don’t have time to find these examples. Nonprofit case studies seem to elude us all.

    It is for this reason that Microsoft decided to work with our long-time partner, TechSoup Global, to sponsor the 2011 Tech for Good Contest for Washington State nonprofits and public libraries. We wanted to help highlight organizations using technology to engage their communities and create real impact. More than 50 Washington State nonprofits and public libraries stepped up to share their stories of technology for good. And they weren’t just good, they were great...

    With so many wonderful entries, selecting three winners was not easy. But today, at our Tech for Good Leadership Summit in Redmond, Washington, we were pleased to announce the Tech for Good contest winners and share their inspirational and savvy examples of technology use with the 200+ nonprofit staff in attendance.

    And the winners are…

    Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project

    Densho is a Seattle-based nonprofit that promotes awareness and critical thought about civil liberties through the preservation and examination of the Japanese-American experience during World War II. Densho needed a better way to capture, preserve and widely share the stories of a disappearing generation of Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during World War II. In lieu of operating a physical museum, Densho was able to use SQL Server, Visual Studio, and ASP.NET to digitally collect, preserve and – most importantly – share these personal stories on its site, which includes over 10,800 photos and documents and over 450 interviews of Japanese Americans. Today, Densho has more than 150,000 web site visitors from all 50 states and 123 countries, a reach they couldn’t have dreamed of achieving without the help of technology.

    Read Densho’s full contest submission >>

    Visit densho.org >>

    Seattle Works

    Seattle Works' mission is to connect volunteers, develop emerging leaders and inspire dialogue. When the economy hit rough times, Seattle Works, like many organizations, saw both corporate and individual gifts decline. They knew they needed change how they were spending money in order to survive. So they gathered their courage and took a leap – to the cloud! To reduce high fixed costs related to their physical office space (rent, parking, phone service, hardware, and data storage, to name a few), Seattle Works implemented Microsoft’s cloud solution, Business Productivity Online Suite (“BPOS”). They now use SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, LiveMeeting (online meeting software) and Communicator to collaborate virtually. In their words, “Staff can go from an in-person meeting with a community partner in the U-District, to a staff meeting via Microsoft Live Meeting at a coffee shop across the street, to a training on the other side of town all without skipping a beat. No snow storm, car troubles or anything short of a real apocalypse can stop Seattle Works from connecting volunteers, developing emerging leaders and inspiring dialogue.” Seattle Works shifted its notion of what a workspace could look like, and shaved nearly $20,000 off their expenses in the process.

    Read Seattle Works’ full contest submission >>

    Visit seattleworks.org >>

    YWCA Seattle, King & Snohomish County

    The YWCA Seattle, King & Snohomish County advances the quality of life for women of all ages, races and faiths, and their families. But with offices and services spread over 32 geographical locations, they were struggling with efficient communications, collaboration and work processes. According to Cathy MacCaul at the YWCA, “Every minute wasted looking for or recreating a file, document or process was time wasted from the service of our clients.” Using Active Directory and SharePoint, they were able to network all locations together and create a robust intranet. “The ability to bring all locations into a centralized medium for information, document sharing, and collaborative tools has revolutionized this organization.” Further, they used InfoPath to automate more than 50% of their processes, moving key organizational processes from manual, paper-based processes to dynamic, electronic workflows hosted in SharePoint. Staff is collaborating more, better able to share mission-critical information, and can shift focus to what matters: the mission.

    Read YWCA Seattle’s full contest submission >>

    Visit ywcaworks.org >>

    Congratulations to all of our winners, who will each receive a $5,000 cash grant, up to $100,000 worth of donated Microsoft software, and consulting services donated by NPower Seattle to help them continue their journey of IT adoption. I can’t wait to see what they do next!

    Finally, while our winners will provide inspiration to many nonprofits who want to “know what they don’t know,” I hope you’ll also take a look at the other stories in the Submission Gallery, each is a winner in their own right.

    On a personal level, I hope these stories will encourage you to learn more about what technology can do for your nonprofit.  Why not to visit our software donations page to discover how you can receive software donations from Microsoft. 

    Thanks to everyone who entered the contest, we all now have a fantastic gallery of nonprofits using technology for good. Here’s to continued learning from and with you!

  • Happy International Mother Language Day!

    By: Lauren Woodman, Microsoft General Manager, Partners in Learning

    While you still have a few months to send your mom flowers for Mother’s Day, today we take time to appreciate our Mother tongue. As designated by UNESCO, International Mother Language Day reminds us of the need to preserve and respect the deep history and culture associated with the many languages spoken around our world. And rightly so. There are roughly 6,000 languages spoken globally, and half of those are projected to be in danger of being lost forever over the next century.

    At Microsoft, we support the preservation of this element of culture through our Local Language Program (LLP), and in honor of today, International Mother Language Day, announce support for several new languages in Windows 7 and Office 2010. Dari (Afghanistan), Mongolian (Cyrillic - Mongolia), Turkmen (Turkmenistan) and Valencian (Spain) are now available with Windows 7 and for Office 2010, we added support for those same languages plus Maltese (Malta). With these additions, Microsoft Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010 are now available in nearly 96 languages, 60 of which are through the Local Language Program.

    This program not only helps us to preserve local languages and cultures, but also helps in finding new ways to create economic opportunities and build IT skills. Through the LLP, we strive to help ensure that the identity of communities continues to thrive worldwide. As a matter of fact, nearly 1.7 billion people speak the languages that are supported by our most recently released products in the Local Language Program. We also work with Visual Studio to provide technology access in a variety of languages, including new support this year to speakers of Czech, Polish, Turkish, Brazilian Portuguese, Greek, Hungarian, Malay and Thai.

    While in many parts of the world, technology has transformed the way people and businesses share and use information, improved the way children and adults learn, and helped governments address social and economic issues in ways never before imagined, people must first have access to the technology and the skills to use it. Through joint efforts by Microsoft Unlimited Potential, governments, universities, local language experts and NGOs, we’re working to reach all those currently underserved.

    For a look at the real-life benefits of this tool, check out how Jan Martinovic, Associate Professor, VSB Tech University of Ostrava is using it to help his students learn programming. He shares that the “first programming language that our students learn is C/C++. When they start their study they have to not only learn this programming language or programming in general, but also how to use specific development tools and in the most cases they have to also learn English. Students study English during their education and eventually they get used to materials or tools in English. Usually English is not a problem for them after several semesters. But at the very beginning this can be a difficult situation for them and some of them even won’t make it because of their poor English. Using Visual Studio 2010 with native language pack can be crucial for such students. They can focus on programming and not on English using this language pack.” A video case study including his experience with the LLP support for the Czech language is here.

    For more stories about the impact of the Local Language Program, visit the Worldwide Public Sector Virtual Press Kit.

    Join me today in appreciation of the many cultures that make up our world and the ways we can help them thrive.

  • Update on New Zealand Earthquake

    A magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck Canterbury Province in New Zealand (population: 440,000) Monday just before midnight local time. There are approximately 75 fatalities confirmed with a potential for that number to reach more than 300.  The New Zealand government has declared a state of emergency and has been conducting search and rescue efforts throughout the day yesterday and overnight (local time). 

    The structural damage is reported to be more significant than the 7.2 magnitude quake that impacted the area last September due to the depth and epicenter location, but assessments are ongoing. 

    Microsoft activated its Disaster Response protocol and we are taking a number of steps, including ensuring the safety of our employees and offering customers, partners, and local response agencies technical support to help ensure business continuity.

    We know from our work supporting response efforts for other disasters  in the past that technology can help response agencies to deliver aid more quickly and efficiently. We are working with lead government organizations and non-profits to assess where our resources can be most helpful.

    In addition, Microsoft New Zealand is offering support to effected customers and business partners.  We hope this will help our customers as they respond to the disaster and rebuild their IT capability in the coming weeks and months. More information about our support offerings can be found here.

    As with any disaster, we know our employees want to help, and we will direct them to donation and volunteer opportunities as they become available.

    We extend our heartfelt condolences to the people affected by this devastating earthquake and hope that our support will help with relief and recovery efforts in the coming weeks and months.

    Posted by Claire Bonilla, Senior Director, Microsoft Business Continuity and Disaster Response

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