This month’s issue of Baseline Magazine has an excellent overview of World Bank’s information and communication technology related activities, infrastructure, and budget. (Warning: Don’t blame me if your eyes pop and jaws drop at the numbers mentioned in there.)
The article spans about 12 pages, so for those of you who do not want to read it in its entirety, here is the gist:
World Bank selected SAP R/3 as its ERP system in 1997. SAP’s Financials, Fund Management, Controlling, Materials Management, Project Management, Project System, Human Resources-Travel Management and Enterprise Buyer modules manage the Bank’s procurement, materials management, project systems and financial reporting. Final cost of the project: $54.3 million.
A few other interesting applications within the Bank’s infrastructure
- Oracle InterMedia database is the repository for official records, reports, email, audio, and video.
- Teragram’s TK240 automatically reads, categorizes, and tags all the documents (in multiple languages of course) uploaded into the Bank’s document management system.
- The list includes Vignette content management system, IBM’s WebSphere servers, iPlanet directory server, Google search, Lotus Notes for mail, and Lotus Sametime for collaboration.
Now for the most exciting piece of information in that article: To serve its offices and employees around the world, the Bank has built-out its own global network infrastructure with three regional satellites. Using this infrastructure as the foundation, the Bank has created 120 Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) centers in 80 countries.
What is so exciting about a massive organization with endless resources and its state-of-the-art infrastructure? Glad you asked. This cutting-edge infrastructure, connectivity, and technologies including multi-country video conferencing, multi-media centers, facilitation, interpretation, etc., is available to any people, groups, or institutions for “organizing a learning or communication activity on a development-related topic.” The centers charge rental and service costs. But even with that cost, I don’t know any other facility like this that can help NGOs big and small organize multi-country events with cutting-edge distance learning and event technologies.
Check out the GDLN web site at http://www.gdln.org/ for more details. The site even has a handy estimator tool to help you estimate the costs for an event. I checked out how much it would cost to conduct a live event in six sites – US (Host), Afghanistan, Brazil, Egypt, India, and Mexico. Five participants at each site with videoconferencing, multi-media, and some interpretation services. (Hey, it is just estimating, so I do have all the money in the world for that one.) It worked out to a total of $6,945 or $232 per participant.
While that is not an inexpensive amount, I do not know of any other alternative of conducting a face-to-face event or training with 30 people spread across 6 countries. Do you?