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Putting People First

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Posts in category 'Emerging markets'

17 April 2013

CGAP CEO: Human-centered design for the Base of the Pyramid

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Tilman Ehrbeck, CEO of CGAP (the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, affiliated with the Worldbank), writes about how his organization has used human-centered design recently to generate demand-side insights and design innovative products that work better for low-income households.

“Half of all working-age adults globally lack access to formal financial services. And contrary to popular belief, these people are often entrepreneurs in the informal economy — by necessity, not by choice. Unbanked people don’t live financially simple lives; they have a strong need for income-generating opportunities, the ability to build assets, and tools to mitigate risks and smooth consumption in the face of emergency. By listening to what these people really need, we can dramatically fast-track innovation in financial services to reach more people with a greater range of products at affordable prices to help them improve their lives.”

16 April 2013

iHub Nairobi welcomes Michele Visciola

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Michele Visciola, Experientia’s president and user research director, will speak at Kenya’s iHub this week, on Friday 19th April.

Michele is currently in Nairobi preparing research, and has been invited to be a guest speaker at iHub, Nairobi’s Innovation Hub for the technology community.

Michele will talk about “User-centred innovation: fostering culture evolution and behavioural change through design”, and the implications for technology development in East Africa.

iHub’s mission is to catalyse technology growth in Kenya. The hub’s community of technologists, investors, tech companies, young entrepreneurs, web and mobile phone programmers, designers and researchers will be invited to hear Michele speak.

iHub is part open community workspace (co-working), part vector for investors and VCs and part incubator. It runs a number of initiatives designed to build an ecosystem around the Kenyan tech entrepreneur: iHub Research, iHub Consulting, iHub Supercomputing Cluster, and the iHub User Experience (UX) Lab, to connect the people with ideas to the people with money to help them grow.

The iHub UX Lab is the first User Experience lab in sub-Saharan Africa that will put together a flexible, efficient and state of the art User Experience design testing space as well as provide designers with global standard master classes to improve their competitiveness.

13 March 2013

Will mobile education arrive in the developing world

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(As if it hasn’t already).

In developing countries, where smartphones and dependable cellular networks are still scarce, it’s been difficult to gauge the real impact of the mobile education movement. But with the combination of different factors — the advent of new technology, decreased pricing for data, a worldwide lust for mobile education, and a persisting patience for smaller screens and lower connection speeds in nations with little alternative — the landscape in developing countries may be at a tipping point.

By the way, make sure not to miss the mobile education image (here reproduced in small)!

7 March 2013

Reaching those beyond Big Data

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Opening up the Stories to Action edition of Ethnography Matters is Panthea Lee’s @panthealee moving story about a human trafficking outreach campaign that her company, Reboot, designed for Safe Horizon.

In David Brook’s recent NYT column, What Data Can’t Do, he lists several things that big data is unable to accomplish. After reading the notes to Panthea’s talk below, we’d all agree that big data also leaves out people who live “off the grid.”

As Panthea tells her story about Fatou (pseudonym), a person who has been trafficked, we learn that many of the services we use to make our lives easier, like Google Maps or Hop Stop, are also used by human traffickers to maintain dominance and power over people they are controlling.

Panthea shares the early prototypes in Reboot’s design and how they decided to create a campaign that would take place at cash checking shops.

In this post, Panthea shares her notes to the talk that she gave at Microsoft’s annual Social Computing Symposium organized by Lily Cheng at NYU’s ITP. You can also view the video version of her talk.

3 February 2013

Redesigning public services so they can actually help people

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Although I don’t agree with the implicit meaning of this Fast Company title (i.e. that public services currently do not help people – whereas the real issue is the degree of impact), I am always excited to hear the latest updates on Reboot, a design agency that focuses on service design in international development, particularly if it is through an interview with Reboot principal Panthea Lee.

“Plenty of thought goes into good industrial design and good interaction design. We do the same for public and social services. In our view, service design is a multidisciplinary approach to creating more useful, effective, and efficient services.

In the space of international development, we find designers particularly well suited to the task of creating good services because they are highly analytical systems thinkers.

Services are more than just pulling a lever to get a result. Services are a complex series of interlocking relationships and institutions, and each one is different. Their design requires deep empathy for users and a nuanced understanding of context. And you’ll never get it right on the first go–they require significant testing and refining until they’re right.”

11 January 2013

Intel’s ‘Women and the Web’ report

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From the press release:

Intel Corporation released a groundbreaking report on “Women and the Web,” unveiling concrete data on the enormous Internet gender gap in the developing world and the social and economic benefits of securing Internet access for women. To better understand the gender gap, Intel commissioned this study and consulted with the U.S. State Department’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, UN Women and World Pulse, a global network for women. The report issues a call to action to double the number of women and girls online in developing countries from 600 million today to 1.2 billion in 3 years.

On average, across the developing world nearly 25 percent fewer women than men have access to the Internet, and the gender gap soars to nearly 45 percent in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, according to the report. Further, the study found that one in five women in India and Egypt believes the Internet is not appropriate for them.

Seeing another 600 million women online would mean that 40 percent of women and girls in developing countries — nearly double the share today — would have access to the transformative power of the Internet. This goal, if realized, could potentially contribute an estimated US $13 billion to $18 billion to annual GDP across 144 developing countries.

The report’s findings are based on interviews and surveys of 2,200 women and girls living in urban and peri-urban areas of four focus countries: Egypt, India, Mexico and Uganda, as well as analyses of global databases. The findings were unveiled during a panel discussion today in Washington, D.C. as part of the 2-day international working forum on women, ICT and development hosted by the State Department and UN Women.

5 December 2012

What does it mean to be a digital native?

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The war between natives and immigrants is ending. The natives have won, argues Oliver Joy on the CNN website.

It was a bloodless conflict fought not with bullets and spears, but with iPhones and floppy disks. Now the battle between the haves and have-nots can begin.

The post-millennial “digital native,” a term coined by U.S. author Marc Prensky in 2001 is emerging as the globe’s dominant demographic, while the “digital immigrant,” becomes a relic of a previous time.

[But] as technology filters into every corner of the globe and tech cities spring up in some unlikely places from Bangalore to Tel Aviv, a new gulf is emerging to separate the digitally savvy from the disconnected: Poverty.

26 November 2012

Technology is useless if it doesn’t address a human need

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Facebook is great for checking out photos of your exes and all, but for social innovators working in the developing world, there’s no point to new technologies unless they make life better for the people they’re trying to help, writes Meagan Fallone.

“How can our illiterate and semi-literate grandmothers use technology to tell the stories of their ongoing transformation once they return home? How can we help them communicate, measure, and evaluate their success? […]

Silicon Valley expanded our learnings around innovative process. We learned what key-placed resources can catalyze within an organization, essential to maximizing and leveraging them to drive more significant change.

We in turn can teach Silicon Valley about the human link between the design function and the impact for a human being’s quality of life. We do not regard the users of technology as “customers,” but as human beings whose lives must be improved by the demystification of and access to technology. Otherwise, technology has no place in the basic human needs we see in the developing world. Sustainable design of technology must address real challenges; this is non-negotiable for us. Social enterprise stands alone in its responsibility to ensuring sustainability and impact in every possible aspect of our work.”

30 October 2012

Designing products for value

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By encouraging more focused collaboration among multiple functional groups (notably marketing and sales, operations, engineering/R&D, and procurement), these leaders are combining deep insights about customers [particularly in developing markets], competitors, and supply bases to strip out costs and amplify what customers truly value. The results—including better products, happier customers, higher margins, and, ultimately, a stronger ability to innovate—should serve these organizations well in years to come.

In this McKinsey Quarterly article, authors Ananth Narayanan, Asutosh Padhi, and Jim Williams look at three such companies. Their experiences offer insights for any product maker hoping to improve its competitiveness.

25 October 2012

How the Kenyan Base of the Pyramid uses their mobile phone

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In order to understand mobile phone usage at the Base of the Pyramid (BoP) in Kenya, iHub Research and Research Solutions Africa conducted a 6-month study, funded by infoDev (World Bank).

A total of 796 face-to-face interviews were conducted along with 178 diaries, 9 interviews with Kenyan developers, 12 focus group discussions (FGDs), and 10 interviews with key stakeholders in the industry. The full report will be released to the public in November 2012.

The following were key findings from the study:
– 16% of Kenyans at the BoP use Internet on their mobile phone
– Low awareness of other existing mobile applications
– Health and education Information most desired
– 1 in 5 forgo an expenditure to buy credit
– Calling, SMS, Mobile Money Transfer are the major uses
– No difference in mobile phone usage between men and women other than mobile Internet usage, which is dominated by educated male youth
– Higher likelihood of technology usage by those educated past primary level

25 October 2012

Want proof that market fit is everything? Test your app in the slums of Sao Paulo

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For the Stanford-educated founders of Emprego Ligado, creating a successful app in Brazil required dismantling every assumption about the target audience.

Emprego Ligado, which translates to “connected job,” launched in Sao Paulo this summer with the aim of connecting unskilled laborers to jobs close to home via SMS: Workers text the system when they need a job, and they system texts back with jobs in the area that match their preferences. It sounds simple enough, but arriving at a working model required dismantling every assumption the founders had about their target market.

He and his two cofounders, Rosenbloom and Nathan Dee, decided to tackle the problem with good old-fashioned sociological research, which they used as a basis for a simple working prototype.

Read article

16 October 2012

Creating behaviour change in people using mobile technology

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Rajeev Suri posted a short interview with Gustav Praekelt of Praekelt Consulting and the Praekelt Foundation, who focuses on creating behaviour change in people – particularly in emerging markets – using mobile technology.

In the interview he explains the notions of Computational Social Science, Influence and Susceptibility of an individual in a network, building on the work of behavioral scientist Sinan Aral at MIT. He also talks about the social community they built called YoungAfricaLive.

6 October 2012

Making mobile phones work for the poor

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In this BBC article, David Edelstein, a leader in the mobile for development space, argues that human networks are the essential ingredient for mobile phones to improve the lives of the poorest.

“Focusing on the technology betrays a truth that must be understood if we are to get beyond this hype and harness the true potential of mobile. To truly make a difference to the lives of the world’s poor, I believe that we must complement the existing mobile networks with well structured human networks.

What do I mean by a human network? To understand what they are and the impact they can have, our network of more than 850 Community Knowledge Workers (CKWs) in Uganda offers a good example.”

Read article

4 September 2012

Africa embracing m-commerce

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In a new report from its ConsumerLab, Ericsson maps out the potential of transformation within m-commerce across the region of sub-Saharan Africa.

Based on in-depth, extensive interviews with mobile phone users in Ghana, South Africa, and Tanzania, the report has four key findings: that consumers are constantly looking for new ways to improve their personal budgets; the speed and convenience of m-commerce points to great potential in the market; current behaviors and social structures indicate that the use of mobile payment services will expand; and that consumers need more information about the functionality and security of m-commerce transactions.

Consumers tell Ericsson researchers that they use mobile payment services for person-to-person transfers and purchasing airtime on their mobile subscriptions, and that they like the convenience of accessing money everywhere and at anytime, regardless of service hours. In Tanzania, for example, 38% of subscribers send money person-to-person over the mobile phone.

Another conclusion of the report is that people who use m-commerce keep little separation between private and business accounts.

Experience leads to greater trust, and the report finds that 44% of non-users of m-commerce are very worried about the integrity of their account information in case of theft or loss of their phones.

Press release
Media kit

21 August 2012

The first Informal Economy Symposium in Barcelona – October 12, 2012

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HOW WILL the informal economy impact the global business landscape?

The landscape of the Informal Economy is vast – from street vending to P2P networks, from piracy to ad-hoc businesses – it is the fastest growing sector of both emerging and developed markets. In fact, the global informal sector has been growing even in the face of economic recession.

  • If the global informal economy were a country, its GDP would be on the order of $10 trillion a year, which would make it the second largest economy on earth after the United States.
  • In Europe the informal sector amounts for 20% of the annual GDP. In developing countries in Asia and Africa this can go up to between 25 to 40%.
  • 1.8 billion of the total working force of the world – that means half of it – works in informal economy. This ratio is predicted to be 2/3 by 2020.
  • In countries like India, the ratio of informal workers can go up to 85% of the total working force.

This means that now is a critical moment for businesses to investigate the scope of the informal economy, and the challenges and opportunities it poses for them.

THE FIRST Informal Economy Symposium in Barcelona: October 12, 2012

A group of thinkers and doers, engaged in a variety of projects that challenge conventional views of the informal economy, are gathering for a day of keynotes and panels in Barcelona. Drawing inspiration from street-level ingenuity, alternative currencies, P2P networks, copy-cat innovation, crowdsourcing and other drivers in the informal economy, the symposium seeks to better understand the relationship between informal commercial practices and formal economic structures. A better understanding of this relationship is the first step towards new business models, innovation approaches, and collaborations within, across, and between the formal and informal.

Visit the Informal Economy website.

Confirmed speakers include

24 July 2012

Our Frugal Future: Lessons from India’s innovation system

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Drawing on the latest data and over 130 interviews with Indian policymakers, entrepreneurs and academics, this report by NESTA, the UK innovation agency, explores the policies, institutions and industries that are driving research and innovation. It measures how India’s research strengths are developing, and maps how the geography of Indian research and innovation is changing.

It takes a purposely broad approach, aiming to chart the direction of travel for Indian research and innovation. All this is with a view to help UK policymakers, businesses and universities better understand the opportunities and challenges of engaging with Indian research and innovation and how to strengthen their efforts to collaborate.

6 July 2012

Digital devices as embodied experiences in remote Indian village

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In arguing that digital technologies enable embodied experiences that reshape the very ways in which we conceptualize our everyday life, Nishant Shah, founder and Director of Research for the Bangalore-based Centre for Internet and Society, tells us a story from the village of Banni in the desert region of Kutch, located at the North-Western borders of India and Pakistan.

“In this small village that is about 80 kilometers from the biggest town with amenities like hospitals and schools, almost every household has a smart phone with access to the internet. In the absence of more popular forms like radio, which are disallowed because of the proximity to the turbulent India-Pakistan borders, the Chinese-made smart phones become the de facto interface of communication and cultural production. The phones become not only the life-line in times of crises, but also everyday objects through which the villages stay connected with the world of cultural production and entertainment. The internet services on the phones allow them to access Bollywood songs and movies, images and games, popular television programming and other popular cultural products in the country. In many ways, Banni is probably more digitally connected than many parts of the larger cities in the country.”

Read article

11 June 2012

Charles Leadbeater: A curriculum for the Next Billion

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Immediately a second post on writing done by Charles Leadbeater.

Here he asks if we were to think of the future consumers of the developing world (whose income is rising from around $2 a day to between $5 and $7 a day) as parents and learners, what would kind of education will they be looking for?

Put it another way, if we were to design a curriculum with ‘the next billion’ what would they want?

Read his (initial) answer here.

28 May 2012

Video online of Experientia’s mobile phone concepts for emerging markets

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Experientia® has posted a new video on its vimeo channel, showcasing mobile phone concepts for emerging markets.

The video was made three years ago for a project in developing markets for Vodafone, but we can only show it now.

Set in India, the video introduces a suite of mobile phone concepts to help people at the economic Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) in emerging markets carry out daily tasks, such as package delivery, travelling home alone, or accessing the internet for the first time. It imagines solutions outside of the usual commercial alternatives, taking advantage of existing networks and workflows.

Detailed background on the project can be found in our “Developing markets” project description.

9 April 2012

From banker to service designer

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Olga Morawczysnki, project Manager of Grameen Foundation’s AppLab Money Incubator (a CGAP-sponsored new initiative that develops mobile financial products for the poor) and Jan Chipchase, executive creative director of global insights at frog, argue that large scale adoption of (mobile) financial services by the poor will only happen if providers in this sector approach the problem of financial inclusion like service designers, and look at the current experience of banking in poor communities.

“Imagine if a banker approached the problem of financial inclusion from the perspective of a service designer. For starters, the banker would leave his comfortable air-conditioned office and drop his assumptions about the poor. He would spend time in the villages, travelling by overcrowded shared taxis, to learn about the lives of this segment. He would look at the drivers of financial behaviors, and build a richer understanding of why particular financial habits exist. He would also quickly recognize that “the poor” are not a homogeneous group, and that ample opportunities exist for creating segments, such as traders, cash-crop farmers, mechanics and shopkeepers.”

Read article

A longer and more thorough reflection on the same matter can be found in the paper “Mobile Banking: Innovation for the Poor” by Tashmia Ismail and Khumbula Masinge of the University of Pretoria’s Gordon School of Business Science (GIBS).

Access to, and the cost of, mainstream financial services act as a barrier to financial inclusion for many in the developing world. The convergence of banking services with mobile technologies means however that users are able to conduct banking services at any place and at any time through mobile banking thus overcoming the challenges to the distribution and use of banking services (Gu, Lee & Suh, 2009). This research examines the factors influencing the adoption of mobile banking by the Base of the Pyramid (BOP) in South Africa, with a special focus on trust, cost and risk including the facets of risks: performance risk, security/privacy risk, time risk, social risk and financial risk. The research model includes the original variables of extended technology acceptance model (TAM2) (Venkatesh & Davis, 2000).

Data for this study was collected through paper questionnaires in townships around Gauteng. This research has found that customers in the BOP will consider adopting mobile banking as long as it is perceived to be useful and perceived to be easy to use. But the most critical factor for the customer is cost; the service should be affordable. Furthermore, the mobile banking service providers, both the banks and mobile network providers, should be trusted. Trust was found to be significantly negatively correlated to perceived risk. Trust therefore plays a role in risk mitigation and in enhancing customer loyalty.