Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Mobile Development Report - A Review

Reports come in various shades, shapes and sizes. Mostly, reports are seen as means to fill up shelf spaces, attempting to make one look more informed than one might really be. At times, reports are sources to be quoted in a B-Plan or used smartly to justify certain viewpoints. Usually, reports are the result of painstaking research carried out by domain veterans. But the fact remains that not all good researchers are good story-tellers and that leaves behind somewhat unwieldy (not to mention costly) paperweights that might be full of unnavigable facts and figures.

There was one report however, that captivated me more than most others out there. I found a link to this report through Jan Chipchase's blog while trying to find out what exactly it was that the Indian mobile consumer at the so called bottom of the pyramid wanted?

The Mobile Development Report (note: its a 15+ MB download, 114 pages pdf), released over a year ago, commissioned by Nokia and beautifully executed and presented by Dr. Aditya Dev Sood and his team at CKS (Center for Knowledge Societies)

The report aims at finding out exactly what the next billion people waiting to be connected through the mobile network want. In other words, it seeks to find what developmental role the mobile can play in the Indian rural context.

The report first examines and explains the diversity India is known for and derives its justifications for a classification. Eminently readable, the article is full of graphics and images that provide a peek into the ecosystem. After laying a solid foundation for even the uninitialized to understand the social fabric, the report then proceeds towards listing out the following opportunities for mobile development:
1. Transportation
2. Micro-commerce
3. Financial services
4. Healthcare services
5. Governance
6. Education
7. Infotainment

The really interesting part of this report is the case studies section. It allows the reader to view first hand the life of people who would benefit and how they might benefit through the mobile revolution.

We had the opportunity of personally meeting Dr. Aditya Dev Sood at our studio last year - an enigmatic personality with a lot of energy and a mystic glow in his eyes. This report perhaps reflects some of that youthfulness and charm from him and his team at CKS.

A must read for
a. anyone seriously planning to be a stakeholder in the rural/ semi-urban mobile ecosystem.
b. anyone starting on writing a report with an intention that people would actually read it.
c. anyone who wants a peek at the real vibrant India, the next billion waiting to be connected to the rest of the world and each other.

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