Microsoft in the UK has been running a novel new competition over the past couple of months – DesignIT, inviting people to submit a systems design that, if chosen as a finalist, will be displayed in an art gallery in London. The instructions were to be creative and innovative with the design. Voting runs until 5pm(GMT) on 25th May, so please support the competition by voting: htp://

OK, I confess to having more than a passing interest in the competition. I decided to give it a go and submitted two entries – one for each category (there is an individual section and a charity section)… and, amazingly, both have made it through to the final (I’m well chuffed 🙂 ) BUT, much as I’d love everyone to just vote for mine, please look through the finalists and vote for the ones you think are the best.

Unsurprisingly, both my entries involve SharePoint. The entry for the charity category is for an intranet replacement for BasicNeeds. BasicNeeds is a UK-based charity (their office is near my home, in Leamington Spa) who work in the developing world to alleviate the suffering of people with mental illness and ensure their basic needs and rights are met. They have been looking to use technology to support and grow their activities. One area that has had significant benefits already has been the use of Skype to reduce telecoms costs. We are looking at some of the newer technologies – blogs, wikis and RSS – to revamp the web site, support cross-org collaboration and raise their profile online and we’ve even got some ideas that involve virtual worlds such as SecondLife. Internally, the intranet is long overdue for updating as it is currently little more than a file-sharing repository. BasicNeeds are already using Microsoft’s Small Business Server 2003, making SharePoint an obvious candidate based on their requirements (doc sharing, search, calendar sharing, etc.). They have been able to experiment with SharePoint to decide if it fits the requirements, thanks to Microsoft’s hosted trial site. My involvement with BasicNeeds sprang out of a chance conversation during this winter with its founder, Chris Underhill, whilst standing at the station waiting for a delayed train.

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