Results tagged “Inveneo” from Wayan Dot Com

Check Out Inveneo's New Website!

| in ICT4D

new inveneo website cake

As one of my last acts at Inveneo, I helped design and launch their new website. Well, I did a bit more than that. I spent the last two years bemoaning our old website and lobbying for a new one.

For a small company that sold best though in-person meetings, it was hard convincing others that we needed to invest in a new website. In addition, there was a perception that websites were expensive - at least $100K. So there was a long road to get the green light to change Inveneo.org

I am proud to say that we came in pretty much on time and on budget - and our budget was a tiny fraction of what they thought it would be. I will have to thank Lee Heidel of Heidel Design for both helping me demonstrate that websites can be built for very reasonable investments and actually building the new site within the expected costs. (Yes, I highly recommend him for your web needs)

But enough about the backstory - that's not as much fun as the visual feasts this cake represents. Now dig in to http://inveneo.org!

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Goodbye Inveneo, the best job I've ever had

| in ICT4D

peace out, inveneo

Four and a quarter years ago, I joined Inveneo with the dream to accomplish three goals with the company. I aimed to grow the local ICT partner program to a market differentiator for Inveneo, raise the company's profile in the Washington DC market, and get Inveneo on large USAID programs.

I am proud to say that I've achieved each of my goals.

  1. The ICIP program grew to be what sets Inveneo apart from all other ICT companies and has become a major reason we are sought out as a partner and implementer. Now under the leadership of FJ Cava, the program has achieved success in Haiti and around the world beyond my expectations and has inspired similar efforts at other organizations.
  2. Unquestionably, Inveneo is now known in Washington DC. Today, it's rare that I have to explain what Inveneo does or even hand out a business card. All the major players know of Inveneo, many of their staff have met Inveneo staff personally, and the conversations start with "How can we partner?" - with real business opportunity in mind.
  3. Inveneo is now sought out as the preferred technology partner for major USAID RFPs and IQC's, to the point where Inveneo is on multiple primes' proposals as the exclusive ICT solution designer and implementer.

In addition, Inveneo now has a deep pool of staff that can support its Washington, DC business. Sybille Fleischmann has ICT in education deployment experience from Microsoft and in Haiti that eclipses my own. Lisa Lin brings deep experience with USAID contracts beyond any level of detail I would ever want to have. Kristin Peterson and the sales team know their way around the different contracting vehicles and how to read the proposal and partnering tealeaves.

Moving On

So it's with the satisfaction of knowing I've propelled Inveneo into the highest levels of international development that I now take my leave from the organization. I am moving on from Inveneo on September 7th with a full heart of goodwill and happiness for the organization and my departure from it.

I feel truly blessed to have worked at Inveneo for the last four years. I loved, LOVED, every minute of it, often to the point of tears when I saw our impact on the communities we serve. It was truly the best job I've ever had.

I will cherish the working relationship I've had with the Inveneo team. I will especially miss Kristin and Mark, who were more than my bosses - they became great friends to me and I appreciated their continued support and endless patience.

The Next Challenge

Yet its time for me to take on a new marketing challenge with another organization. Starting September 10th, I will be joining Development Gateway in Washington DC. They develop results monitoring and big data ICT solutions for bilateral and multilateral donors and national governments and are instrumental in supporting the growing momentum around the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI).

Not to worry, I will still be in the ICT4D space and I will not forget Inveneo. I will continue to be a tireless advocate for both. I will start by suggesting that you subscribe to ICTworks, one of the many initiatives I started at Inveneo that I know will live on well past my exit.

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Yesterday, Erik Hersman (aka. White African) dropped a blog bomb into the sometimes contentious debate around the term ICT4D - information and communication technologies for development. In his The Subtle Condescension of "ICT4D" post he says:

I have cognitive dissonance over the term "ICT4D". The term "ICT4D" is confusing, hypocritical and has a whiff of condescension that makes me cringe. As I understand it, it's what NGO's do in places like Africa and Asia, but if the same things are done in poor communities in the US or Europe, it's not called ICT4D, it's called civil society innovation or a disruptive product.

To be honest, at first I felt Erik was being confusing, hypocritical and condescending himself, as he is the co-founder of a very successful project, Ushahidi, which is an amazing free-to-the-user grant-supported tool for crowdsourcing information and visualizing data that was sometimes thrown into an emergency as an instant cure-all to those under served and misrepresented - the best and worst of ICT4D all in one.

olpc-helicopter.jpg

But then I calmed down, thought about how ICT4D might look like to the average African. They might be seeing it as OLPC, the poster child for all the wrong ways to go about ICT4D. I spent six years of my life kicking OLPC in the shins to try and change their approach as I believed that they we sullying a good idea with their foolishness.

Now I will take six minutes of my life to change the ICT4D debate to make sure good ideas are better understood.

ICT4D and ICT4$ are two whole different industries

Let us not confuse two whole different uses of ICT. In the tech start up world, ICT is a means to make money. Software developers code products like MXit or M-PESA and hope to sell them at a profit to to venture capital funders and people that are currently under served by the market place. The focus is on $. This is ICT4$ and they should be proud of their efforts.

In the international development world, ICT is used to deliver education, healthcare, etc more efficiently. We have great products like FrontlineSMS, ChildCount+, and Ushahidi, and sell them to donor funders so we can deliver them free or subsidized to those under served by government or in market failure situations. The focus is on impact versus $. This is ICT4D, and I am proud to use the term.

Notice the different focus. In no way should a tech startup and its funders seeking to maximize profit seek to work in ICT4D, just like it would be laughable for a development organization (funder or implementer) to run a tech startup to be the next Facebook.

Projects can be ICT4D and ICT4$

Having said that, there is overlap. A product can be both ICT4$ and ICT4D. Let us take Mxit and Ushahidi as examples.

yoza-ict4reading.jpg

MXit is certainly ICT4$ - its sole aim it to create wealth for its developers. At the same time, MXit can help promote literacy, expand needed communications, and be a foundation on which development organizations do their efforts more efficiently. That would be an ICT4D use of an ICT4$ product.

Ushahidi certainly started as ICT4D - its sole aim was to help those without a voice be heard. At the same time, it can be sold as ICT4$ as a tool for business to increase their profitability. Say Coke uses it to track stockouts or customer satisfaction - in Africa or Arkansas. I would cheer on that usage of Ushahidi just as much as Haitians did after their earthquake.

Neither ICT4D nor ICT4$ is perfect

Now Erik does point out that there are many development workers who parachute in, talk too much, then leave too quickly to have their projects make any real difference. The same can be said of a number of software developers too. We've all met arrogance in every field.

Erik also points out that many ICT4D projects are not financially sustainable - they exist as long as the grant funding does. The same can be said about startup companies. The current Silicon Valley metric is that only 20% of startups succeed. The World Bank says 30%-60% of theirs succeed.

Now we can argue what "success" means, but the greater point is that failure happens everywhere. We should not be ashamed of it - in fact we should celebrate failure. At least we're doing something.

ICT4D and ICT4$ should be symbiotic

I am firm believer that ICT4D has the same overall goals as ICT4$ - to do well by doing good. We are all here to make money, even if we do it different ways. And we want to feel good about our work, regardless of the end client.

So I wish Erik all the best in keeping his distance from ICT4D while a co-founder of a great ICT4D project. I remember a conversation we had once where he reminded me he is a web technology professional first, and made more from that than Ushahidi. I'll be the first to tell a venture capitalist that they should invest in his next startup, or in any African software developer's big dream. There is real money to be made in Africa. I support efforts like VC4Africa and Coded In Country every way I can. And I have certainly pitched the idea of investing in African companies to VC's before - often to jeers and laughter.

But VC's dismissal of African opportunities hasn't stopped me from investing my time and efforts into a nonprofit tech startup, Inveneo, which is combining the best of ICT4D and ICT4$ the best we can. We sell our consulting services, we sell hardware, and gladly take grants and donations. We are certainly mercenary in our business approach - there are no "charity" projects. Yet our services are all designed to do good while we do well.

We work through local ICT companies, who often make much more than us on projects, and a few have even grown larger and more profitable than Inveneo itself. We do not "parachute" anywhere - if a project is not designed sustainably, we don't do it (yes, we have walked away from projects and left cash on the table). And we tirelessly promote good ICT4D practices, because Erik is right, "ICT4D" can be a loaded term to some.

I work every day to make sure the load "ICT4D" carries is a positive one that benefits those who need it the most, first. I ask you and he to do the same.

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Fail Faire DC 2011 is a celebration of failure. We will have great speakers with fun, fast, Ignite-style presentations of their professional failures. Audience participation is not only encouraged, it is mandatory! We are all peers and none of us is perfect. Expect much laughter as we navel-gaze at where we have all gone wrong in ICT and international development.

Yet we will LEARN from failure. Failure is no reason to be ashamed, and there is great value in examining our mistakes. So while we encourage irreverence and humor, we will be improving our profession too.

We will have light refreshments to lubricate the conversation and there will be an after-party to continue the celebration. However, an RSVP is mandatory for attendance and space is limited, so sign up today!

Fail Faire DC 2011 Sponsors

Fail Faire DC 2011 will happen on October 13th at the World Bank.Those that RSVP will be sent the specific room location just before the event.

Fail Faire DC 2011 is brought to you by theWorld Bank, Development Gateway, and Inveneo.

Agenda:

  • 6:00pm: Welcome and drinks
  • 6:30pm: #FAIL-Slam
  • 7:30pm: Open Discussion
  • 8:00pm: Mingling, learning, networking, more drinks

Featured Speakers (so far)

  • Dr. Tessie San Martin, CEO, Plan International USA
  • The World Bank on their 70% ICT4D failure rate
  • Ian Schuler, Internet Freedom Programs, U.S. Department of State
  • You? Apply today!

Remember, you must RSVP to attend.

Power. That's the real problem for information and communication technologies (ICT) in the developing world. Specifically, electrical power, and the lack there of. All the coolest ICT tools, from radio to computers, the very Internet itself, require electricity, and usually vast amounts of it.

solar power in Africa
$10 per Watt in Africa

Yet in the developing world, electricity is very rare and expensive. National electrical grids don't extend past the national capitol or major trading city. Outside of population centers, electricity is generated by local, even personal generators.

Often noisy, polluting, diesel or petrol generators that need constant repair, or very expensive and delicate solar panels that break or disappear overnight. Either way, electrical infrastructure costs usually exceeded the ICT investment, often by 2-3 times.

These two opposing forces collided during the 2000's, as the international development industry, local governments, and communities themselves tried to bring ICT to rural and underserved areas, with disastrous results.

Untold millions of dollars, man-hours, and even computers were lost in these ICT for development (ICT4D) projects when energy sucking computers starved themselves and their hosts, as they gorged on rare, expensive electrons.

We would still be wasting silicon and staff today, if it were not for one, very small invention that has literally revolutionized an industry: the Intel Atom processor.

Atom CPU: Disruptive ICT4D Innovation

In 2008, partly in response to the hype around One Laptop Per Child, Intel announced the Atom series of processors. Here was a processor that had enough power - 1.6 GHz clock speed - to do most applications that users deemed necessary.

Intel Atom motherboard

It also was very energy efficient - 2.5 Watts - and Intel sold them at very cheap prices to computer manufactures.

The power envelop in such a cheap and energy-efficient package was truly a disruptive new-market innovation that has shifted the ICT demand curve.

New-Market Innovation

Clayton Christensen, the originator of the disruptive innovation concept, says that "new-market" disruptive innovation is when non-consumers - consumers who would not have used the products already on the market - are now able to consume.

In the information and communications technologies for development (ICT4D) field, we've been using a number of different solutions to try and bridge the gap between high-powered computers and the low-resource environments we want them to work in.

We've tried everything from only using older, lower performance technology like AMD Geode-powered computers, to reducing the number of computers involved to match the amount of electricity a community can support.

But these were only stopgap measures. Every day the grid-powered world got better, faster technology and everyone else got farther and father behind. We, and the communities we served, were non-consumers of the faster, better technology.

Our clients could not afford the infrastructure for modern computing or had to travel great distance and expense to use it in major cities.

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Making ICT4D Affordable

With its low price, and low power consumption, the Atom was doubly affordable in ICT4D applications. We could move from non-consumers to immediate, large-scale consumption of modern information and communication technologies.

The Atom's lower processor price meant that the end computing product, be it a netbook or desktop PC, would have a lower retail price. In fact, quality netbooks can now be had for $400 - less than half the cost of the cheapest laptops just 3 years ago. But these savings, while significant in isolation, pale in comparison to the power-cost savings.

The real disruptive innovation is the Atom processors power profile. The chipset is so energy-efficient, Inveneo could develop computing solutions that draw less than 20 Watts - the output of a battery - and free ourselves from direct generator power or large solar panel arrays. This drastically reduced the electrical costs of computer deployment, making ICT even more affordable.

A typical desktop computer can consume 200 Watts of electricity in normal operation. In Africa, where a solar power installation costs an average of $10-15 per Watt, that's $2000+ just for the power infrastructure for one computer. An Atom-powered desktop can use just 17 Watts, requiring only a $170 solar power investment - 1/10th the cost of comparable computing systems.

In fact, with Atom-based computing, the total cost of computer ownership drops below free. As we calculated above, even donated traditional computers actually cost at least $2,000 - their electrical infrastructure cost - while a new Atom-based computer and is power infrastructure is less than $1,500.

Inveneo Computing Station

Significant Market Impact

At Inveneo, we've switched to an all-Atom product lineup and our sales have jumped. We're seeing double-digit growth in our equipment sales. Our Computing Station performance meets the needs of our clients at a fraction of the absolute and total cost of traditional computers - even donated ones.

And we are not alone. Almost everyone else in the ICT4D space is all-Atom all the time as well, and from what I hear, also experiencing a noticeable uptick in product sales and project sustainability.

The Atom chipset also spawed the netbook, which has opened up computer sales to two new buyers:

  1. Urban elites in Africa and South Asia who can now afford a laptop for themselves and their families
  2. Mobile phone companies like Safaricom, who are selling subsidized netbooks to increase data network sales

In addition to the developed world buyers, they've helped drive netbook sales to $11 billion in 2009 - over 20% of the entire mobile computing market from 0 in 2007.

So for all of us in ICT4D, I'd like to thank Intel for the disruptive Atom processor innovation. Its a bright spot for an otherwise cut-throat hardware industry that often ignores ICT4D needs.

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Inspiring Women in ICT for Development

| in ICT4D

As a new father of a young daughter, the recent Educational Technology Debate on Gender Equality in ICT Education was a very personal for me. I look at the strong women I see in technology and I hope, dream, that some day my Hanalei will be a leader in whatever profession she chooses.

So was with great interest that I read about how Brooke Partridge and Karen Coppock found inspiration for their achievement in ICT. To complete the triptych of women in ICT that I admire, I also interviewed Kristen Peterson, a co-founder of Inveneo and now its CEO.

She's built the organization from just an idea in 2002 to a leading ICT4D organization I so admire, that I pretty much begged her to hire me (and she's now my boss). Here, I interview her about how she came to be in the technology industry:


Its interesting that she noted the importance of parents & mentors, especially her early mentor source: TV. Through this often maligned ICT, Kristin saw powerful women role modes to emulate and give her inspiration. I hope that times have changed enough that my Hanalei can find her own inspiration in real women she sees leading the world.

Epidemics and a shortage of healthcare workers continue to present grave challenges for governments and health providers in the developing world. Yet in these same places, the explosive growth of mobile communications over the past decade offers a new hope for the promotion of quality healthcare - billions now have access to reliable technology that can also support healthcare delivery.

mhealth
Mobile-empowered healthcare

How can this access to mobile technology, radically improve healthcare services - even in some of the most remote and resource-poor environments?

Please join Inveneo's Eric Blantz and Vital Wave Consulting's Dr. Karen Coppock in a discussion around mHealth - how technology can empower better and more efficient healthcare services throughout the developing world, with an emphasis on mobile and cellular technologies.

Of special focus is the recent United Nations Foundation and Vodafone Foundation Technology Partnership report, mHealth for Development, authored by Vital Wave Consulting

Opportunities for mHealth in Development
March Technology Salon in San Francisco
March 3rd, 8:30-10am
@ Inveneo
972 Mission Street 5th Floor (map)
San Francisco, CA

Please RSVP as we only have seating for 15 and after that, there will be a waitlist.

About Wayan Vota

| in
wayan vota
Wayan Vota on 60 Minutes - CBS News

Wayan Vota is passionate about technology and international development. He is convinced that information and communications technology (ICT) can accelerate the social and economic advancement of the developing world.

Wayan is a Technology Advisor at FHI 360's TechLab. Previously, he was senior staff at Development Gateway, Inveneo, and IESC Geekcorps, and a consultant to infoDev at the World Bank.

He co-founded Kurante, ICTworks, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, Technology Salon, Educational Technology Debate, and OLPC News. You can read his full work profile on LinkedIn.

When not off in distant lands or coveting clock-stopping hot technology, Wayan lives in Washington, DC, with his lovely wife Amy, daughters Hanalei and Archer, and the family mascot, Taxi Dog.

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