Week of November 29, 1999
  Editor's Choice Web Pick
   of the Week

Ginfo.net Aces the Global Information Test

Business, in case you've been pulling a Rip Van Winkle, has gone global in a big, big way. Indeed, business folks everywhere are forever saying that they're "global thinkers," working, by golly, for venturesome companies that have "gone global big-time."

And, fact is, that's what you'd better do, at least if you plan on still being in business come the next millenium. Nonetheless, substantive Web sites with a truly global focus seem far harder to find than today's seemingly endless stream of "going global" rhetoric.

Here's a site, though, that aces the global information test: ginfonet (www.ginfo.net), the Global Information Network, which bills itself as "designed by global business users for global business." Ginfonet matches that hype with substance to spare. In fact, it's hard to know exactly where to begin in describing this site.

And that's a compliment. Users will find a ton of ways to go after various slices of the ton of online information that's available here. In short, this site is as rich in international information as the old globe itself. After test driving the site, this reviewer, for example, was able to tell our thoroughly bewildered receptionist, "You know, it's 9:08 a.m. right now in Pago Pago, American Samoa."

A Wealth of On-Site Electronic Interfaces

Effectively going global requires loads of information and lots of electronic interfaces to keep everybody on the same page. And that's one area in which ginfo.net sparkles. For example, this site can provide users with:

  • The "Global Calendar" feature, which allows users who've registered with the network to track schedules, contacts, to-do items and notes from any Internet-connected computer. (Registration, by the way, is free and painless.) This feature can also store appointments and recurring events, and it can send users e-mail and pager reminders.

  • The "Webmail" feature, which allows users from any Web location in the world to read, write, check, reply to, forward and store their e-mails using the ginfo.net's high-powered servers.

  • The "Timezones" feature, which allows registered and unregistered users alike to check times around the globe. This feature can be a huge irritation saver in scheduling global conference calls. (And, by the way, did you know that, of this writing, it's 3:38 a.m. - tomorrow, at least from where this reviewer is sitting - in Tongatapu, Tonga?)

  • The online "Currency Converter," which provides users with a fast home-page click-through to a version of Xenon Laboratories' well-respected Universal Currency Converter site (www.xe.net/ucc/).
Ginfo.net also provides users with ongoing business news content through its linkage to "Daily Brief" (from Trade Compass). Daily Brief headlines, which are updated daily, appear on the ginfo.net home page. Users can also tap the Daily Brief's searchable archive for previous stories.

Personalizing Your Information,
Interfacing with Other Users

Users who register can also use the "MyGinfo.net " feature to configure each part of the system, designing a personal site interface that reflects their individual needs and preferences.

Ginfo.net also actively promotes networking among registered users. For example, the "Business Cards" feature enables registered users to add their name to ginfo.net's business card directory, which is searchable by company name, user name or country. (While the "Business Card" directory appears to be relatively thin in content -- as least judging from our search for member listings working for several of the world's biggest companies -- you don't have to register to search this directory, only to be listed on it.)

Ginfo.net's "Message Board" feature also allows registered ginfo.net users to post messages to other registered users. Registered users can also receive free downloads of the Global Information Network's "Flash News Ticker." The ticker provides an ongoing feed of real time business news headlines, which will scroll at the bottom of your PC. (Some users, however, may find this disturbingly attention-distracting. For those folks, those scrolling headlines may prove to be like endlessly hearing that wickedly useless adage to not think, whatever you do, about dancing pink elephants. On the other hand, with the ascendancy of the Web, we're all discovering that humans have far greater capacities than heretofore imagined to process multiple streams of information.)

Links Aplenty

Another strong feature of the ginfo.net site is its practically endless wealth of links to outside expertise.

Those links are divided into six general broad categories: "World Regions," "Resources," "Trade Info & Reference," "Business Segments," "Service & Buyer Guides" and "Software Guides." (And, no, there are no online links to those dancing pink elephants, hopefully saving time for those readers now thinking about them.) Within those categories you'll find a huge number of linked sites. Most of them, judging from our spot-check, are well respected for the quality of their work and services.

But you certainly don't have to use that hunt-in-peck, ingest-the-whole-damn-thing style that's indigenous to lowly Web reviewer scribes. It's far more practical to use this site's search function, which is powerful and fast. In addition, the site offers quicksilver navigation, both internally and with the thousands of other sites with which it's linked.

"Site Selection/Economic Development"
One Online Site Category

Mind you, this is in no way a site that's about real estate or economic development per se.

There is, however, a "Site Selection/Economic Development" category that's listed under "Business Segments." That category provides users with a host of worldwide links to economic development groups and agencies that promote inward investment.

A click on that category also links users to a number of other valuable commercial and nonprofit organizations. For example, you'll find on-site a link to the prestigious International Development Research Council , the world's leading corporate real estate association, as well as a link to (blush/shucks/gosh) SiteNet (www.sitenet.com), the network that brings readers The SiteNet Dispatch.

Ginfo.net's lack of a real estate-centric focus, however, doesn't in any way diminish the value of this site. Indeed, as the industry's leading lights agree, the only real business of corporate real estate is the business of the business. And business, as we're constantly reminded (we know, already!) is very much global. Ginfo.net definitely delivers when it comes to global business information.

And, by the way, did you know that it's now 7:52 a.m., tomorrow, in Port Vila, Vanuatu?

Time flies, doesn't it, when you're going global.



©1999 Conway Data, Inc. All rights reserved. Data is from many sources and is not warranted to be accurate or current.