Latest column, on the intersection of technology and international justice.
Organization That Fights Slavery Stretches Its Network
David F. Carr, 07.13.10, 06:00 AM EDT
International Justice Mission and the importance of centralizing and optimizing.
When John Lax joined International Justice Mission (www.ijm.org) to manage its IT systems, he stepped into another world after 30 years in the software industry.
The IJM combats child sex traffic and slavery, working to identify instances of these practices and convince local authorities to crack down. By contrast, his previous job involved product development at Intuit ( INTU – news – people), the company behind Quicken and QuickBooks. Lax says he made the jump so he could be “working on something with meaning, rather than adding another $100 million to the company’s bottom line.”
In his new job, he faced an extreme version of the same technology challenges faced by many organizations, large or small. IJM has about 340 employees, 80 at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. and the rest overseas. Like every other organization, IJM needs to maintain communications with its branch offices. The problem for Lax, though, is that many of those offices are in developing countries, where network bandwidth is scarce, expensive and unreliable.