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IBM Takes 'On Demand' To The Community

Taking a cue and inspiration from the philanthropy world, IBM Monday launched a new project to supply the non-profit community with tools from its "e-business on demand" program.

The Armonk, N.Y.-based computer giant's utility computing initiative is based on making computing resources available to corporations and suppliers in the same way that the power company supplies electricity for lights. In the end, the customer can order up and get charged for only as much as it needs. This enterprise model is also being adopted by Big Blue's rivals including HP and Sun.

Called "IBM On Demand Community", the new program lets IBMers across the globe access an Intranet site that serves as home base. When they register at the site, the employee will have access to a full range of technology such as virtualization tools.

To help evangelize the message, IBM said more than 25,000 of its employees are expected to participate as on demand volunteers in the next two years. The goal is to put more than 140 IBM technology assets and other innovative resources, strategies, programs and tutorials in the hands of organizations and schools. IBM says its advantage is its massive size and support.

"What sets this initiative apart from other corporate employee volunteer programs is the size and scale of the enterprise," said Stanley Litow, vice president of IBM Corporate Community Relations. "IBM On Demand Community enables us to engage thousands of employees on a worldwide basis, and give them resources that will transform the schools and community organizations where they donate their time. We're taking community service to a whole new level."

For example, an IBM employee in New York who wants to volunteer in her child's classroom will find eight technology solutions on the site that include dynamic classroom activities, science presentations, mentoring a student, leading change in schools, and helping teachers with technology to name a few. The same process holds true for employees who volunteer at a not-for-profit organization. They can choose from several support options including technology planning and assessments, and software for senior organizations to help people with vision and other disabilities better navigate the Web.

As an incentive, employees that participate as regular school volunteers would be eligible for better technology or cash awards to the school. An individual is eligible for $3,500 in technology or $1,000 in cash donated to the organization a year.

"We now have the opportunity to demonstrate what "on demand" means when addressing a community challenge," Litow said. "If a teacher needs better strategies for using the Internet to advance learning, an IBM volunteer can provide it -- on demand. If an executive at a local charity wants to improve services and outcomes through technology, an IBMer on the board can help guide the process with an on demand solution. "IBM is no stranger to getting its employees involved in the community. Last year, IBM employees donated over 4 million volunteer hours. But, this is the first time that they have been able to take full advantage of IBM's on demand tools.

IBM said it will hold launch events for the new initiative at 90 company sites this month in North America, Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia Pacific. By mid-2004, all of the technology solutions and assets associated with IBM On Demand Community will be available in 10 languages.