Multi-channel service design, the African way (EURO IA 2012 version)


Published on

Presented at Euro IA 2012 on the 29th of September 2012.

Recent evolutions in mobile technologies are fostering new modes of interactions and allowing the creation of services that work seamlessly across devices. The same is true in Africa, given a penetration of mobile phones well over 50% of the population. The difference? Many: dumbphones instead of smartphones; low literacy level limits the possibility to use text-based services (be it web or SMS); scarcity of PCs; importance of community radios in rural areas.

Starting from projects services for farmers in West Africa, the talk presents some of the most interesting cases of multi-channel approaches – that combine different eras of technology in one service. It details the possibilities. In conclusion, it reflects on the learnings and how these can be applied to Europe and North America.

Published in: Design
1 Comment
No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • In case you have not read the schedule, I am Franco Papeschi, and I work for a Non-Governmental Organization called The Web Foundation. Let me tell you a bit more about these, they are my favourite subjects.I’ve worked as User Experience consultant for 10 years now. First in Milan and in Rome, then in London. Agency side (working on clients such as Canon, British Telecom), then at Vodafone, exploring what products and services would be interesting to propose in the next 5 years. That’s where my focus shifted towards emerging markets, there’s a lot to do and propose there, it’s like the DOT COM boom of the late ninetys. And that’s how I met my current employer
  • Which is The Web Foundation. Created by TimBL in 2009, with the goal of maximising the social and economic impact of the web, and establish the open Web as a global public good and a basic rightSo we do projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America mainly, helping more people use the web, and more people produce relevant services and applications based on web and mobile technologies. The stories I’ll tell you today are things that I have encountered during my activities as leader of the ‘mobile entrepreneurship’ projects, taking africans with ideas and some basic technical skills, and helping them transform their ideas into startups.
  • So Africa, uh? How many of you come from African countries?How many of you have worked there?How many of you have spent there more than 2 weeks?A holiday?For the rest of you, You know it’s a continent, not a country?But don’t worry, even Romans didn’t know a lot about Africa. They were good at building stuff, but they were scared of lions.So much so, they put warning signs on the maps ‘HIC SUNT LEONES’ – here are lions..
  • Fast forward 2000 years, Africa is actually booming. Even Forbes has done few articles. Interesting the way they phrase it….I don’t think it’s just a TECHNOLOGY renaissance. It involves lots of economic and social changes that are happening.
  • In terms of economic growth, you may be aware that in the past 3-4 years a thing called recession happened, did you? Well, compared to the variation of GDP in Europe and the US – which are the lines in grey – Sub-Saharian Africa has performed pretty wall, never going into ‘recession’ and growing its GDP of 5% in 2010. But this growth starts from a context which is quite different from what we have, and even from what we may expect
  • Without the hope to cover all of these differences, I think it's important to give a quick overview of what I mean by 'different'
  • First: we have been speaking about Africa, in general. But in Fact it’s stupid. It’s so big it could contain US, China, India and most Europe. And the cultural, social conditions are so different you cannot think it as a single market. Most of what we will see come from a relatively small number of hotspots: Nairobi, Accra, South Africa. Situation in places like DR Congo, or Mali or Liberia is a bit different, and not even universities have access to the Internet sometimes there.
  • The differences between parts of Africa come – for example – from the languages spoken. African cultures are oral cultures, so the languages spoken are really importantthereare between 2000 an 3000 languages spoken. Check how much density of languages there are in West Africa. No wonder there is constant tension…
  • In terms of technology, Mobile is the King in Africa, with 53% of people having at least a SIM card. If you compare this with the 1.4 % of fixed telephone lines (the old phones that our parents used to have at home, remember?), and with the 12% of Internet users, you understand why mobile is king….
  • Mention electricity
  • When I say “mobile’, What kind of phones are we talking about?Not smarphones, I’m afraid
  • These are good numbers, and you can fool a politcy maker with these, but I know I cannot fool you. Where’s the qualitative part, uh?what does it mean in practice?
  • people will have mobile phones like this. 
  • The importance of mobile phones goes beyond the enhanced communication capabilities. I have seen they use their mobile number as a proxy for ownership, and identity: here someone has marked their little wagon with their mobile
  • So, with this in mind, Are the services they offer REALLY different perspectives? These are among the hundreds of new interesting services that are putting Africa on the tech map….I’ll take 3 examples, and I’ll start from the needs they satisfy, because that’s as much interesting as the application itself.
  • If you are a farmer or a dairyman in Mombasa, all you have are – probably 5 cows and a basic mobile phone. Keeping track of cows’ health and fertile days and gestation period is as important as managing a supply chain for a big industry.
  • So iCow is a simple tools that allow people to keep track of the conditions of your cattle, and to receive information and tips on what to do.It gives the farmer access to:Gestation Calendar customized to each cow based on the Date of Service and/or the Calving DateThe Milking Calendar and customizable Milking SchedulesThe Milking CalculatorA customizable Immunization CalendarHealth Information ServicesDiet Information ServicesNutrition Information ServicesAs a result, farmers have a more reliable source of income, and the animals have better treatments, even without the need to consult vets.
  • Let’s stay in Kenya. In 2007 Kenyan elections went bad, and people started rioting, protesting and – at the end violence took over. If you were in cities like Nairobi, you wouldn’t know what parts of town would be safe at what time.
  • So Erk, Ory, Jessica and other geeks decided to create Ushahidi, a way to put reports of violence coming via SMS on a map. Since 2007, it has been used to coordinate the humanitarian efforts in Haiti immediately after the Earthquake, a couple of years ago, or in Japan, after the Tsunami. As a result, an African innovation is now transforming the way AID agencies act in moments of crisis.
  • Finally, not many Africans have bank accounts. Approximately 20% of them. Banks considered too expensive and risky to open bank accounts with people with very little money to deposit, and frequent need to access to it, so they cut 80% of the population out. So if you are an african with no bank account, how can you keep your money safe, send payments and pay bills? All with cash. Which is not the best idea: you could get robbed, or lose or destroy your banknotes.
  • So 5 years ago MPESA became the first service to allow ‘the unbanked’ to keep their money safe, and to pay bills and even supermarkets. if you are a Kenyan, you go to a Safaricom shop, which is the most important mobile operator there, you deposit your cash on your SIM card, like you were buying some top-up for your pre-paid phone, and then you can pay with that any other person, or bills, or even some big supermarkets. Or you can keep it there, and nobody will steal it from you.As a result, in 5 years MPESA is used by six million people around the country, including in rural areas. It has transferred theequivalent to US $1.8 billion (representing about 5% of GDP). No Near Field Communication chips, no dongles like Square
  • So this gives you a generic sense of interesting things that are happening in Africa at the moment. I could go on for hours letting you know about clever to-do lists, taxi finding services, accounting systems for an economy based on small transactions, and so on. But I would like to focus a bit more about services that have redefined a bit what I considered multi-channel approach. I’ll promise you I will not talk about responsive design, mobile-first approach.
  • I’ll talk about crops and farming, as I’m going to take 2 example from an area that are quite crucial for the way people live: AgricultureAround 60 percent of African workers are employed by the agricultural sectors, with about three-fifths of African farmers being subsistence farmers. 
  • So the first service I want to show you is namedEsoko. ESOKO (Ghana): Esoko is a service (launched last year) that operates directly in 15 African countries, and has 50k active users across markets. It is for farmers and traders of agricultural commodities (which is a big word for bananas, ground nuts, …). At its basic, Esoko provides a market information platform for farmers(so that they know where to buy and sell their products before putting all the stuff on a bus and going to the market). For the intermediaries and traders, it provides stock information, flow of goods and commodities and profiling of suppliers, customers. What you see here is the Web interface. If you are a farmer like Yacuba, and have ground nuts to sell, this would help you a lot: You would discover that – for example – going to the central market to sell them would be not profitable, at only 0.89 per kilo. On the contrary, if you go to the Borae market, you would get 1.21 per kilo. You can also see that the price has changed. In the first market, it has dropped 3% in the past 2 months. This is a perfect decision-making tool. In a way, it’s like Bloomberg for farmers. Simple and clear, but let’s go deeper.
  • Flow of information is pretty basic, then: someone inputs data. someone reads the aggregated data to make instant decisions. Someone reads the data across time to take policy / longer term decisions.
  • Flow of information is pretty basic, then: someone inputs data. someone reads the aggregated data to make instant decisions. Someone reads the data across time to take policy / longer term decisions.
  • Flow of information is pretty basic, then: someone inputs data. someone reads the aggregated data to make instant decisions. Someone reads the data across time to take policy / longer term decisions. So, if you are a farmer, Esoko is useful because you can see the prices of food commodities in the different markets, and input the price of yours. This allows you to take decisions on your price, and where to sell your crops. If you are a big farmer, you may need to see the hystory of your prices, and the market prices, and maybe manage the stock you have. If you are a buyer, obviously you want to see the price of commodities, to know where to buy it. If you are a trader at the market, or an agent, you need to have lots of tools to see price variations, trends, and manage not only the stock, but also the flow of your commodities.
  • Here they have complete table, with analysis for traders
  • SMS achieve a here + now function. No depth of detail, but basic – easy to digest – cheap information. Which assumes some expertise in reading it.
  • Smartphones is usually used by people who have longer-term stakes, or multiple markets to monitor at the same time, or have a stock to track. So this advanced type of information is easier to display here, and more functionalities can be added.
  • Up until the web Version, which sacrifices immediacy for completeness, and expands on services that are not really part of the core offering, but have been considered key for customer management
  • As they were going along, they discovered one more thing. That the agents (which were supposed to mainly gather the prices from the markets) were actually becoming one more channel of information distribution. It sounds obvious no? you are at the market, you monitor prices, sellers come to you and ask you if you have the price of the good at other markets. And people tended to trust them more than the information they see on the screen. Because they are accountable. So agents are going to become one more channel to design for. Not just the information they have to find and give for them, but as a proper face-to-face interface of the organization.
  • So, I like this example and wanted to show it to you because: It basically embodies a great case of content first rather than device first. The channel strategy follows the use of channels by target audiences, way more intelligently than I have seen in many publishing houses and start-ups in EuropeIt structures services and functionalities in SMALL CHUNKS, testable on one channel with one audience. With an approach not too dissimilar from the ‘minimum viable product’ of lean UX approaches. One of the inner cogs of their machine (the agents, used to retrieve information) in practice become one of the interfaces of it. So design your cogs to be as beautiful as the interface, because your users may see it.
  • If I have to summarise one thing I would like you to take away and act upon, is: Disruptive Innovation comes from serving under-served users, which have less resources than the ones the industry is currently serving.Become curious about products and services they use, as these will tell you a lot about the future. But as a conclusion this would be too easy….
  • …So, something more practical to take away, for when you start your new project.
  • Esoko isorganising the structure of their service in this way: small features that could be independently run, maybe in different touchpoints: poll and surveys that sellers organise for buyers are now an important part of Esoko, but this could be run independentlyThis allows them to change each channel quickly, and run some A/B test across the channels.INTEGRATED IA - APPLE
  • Radio Marche’ uses the voice of each deejay of each community radio to make sure that the people who listen to the announcements recognise the voice, and therefore trust it, as it is a familiar and usually well accepted voice. What example would be in Europe?
  • Again, the difference betwweenEsoko and What example would be in Europe?
  • and this is it. Say thanks to these guys, cause they …..We’d love to get some questions from you or some comments. In case you want to talk to me, lunch is a good time to have a chat!
  • Multi-channel service design, the African way (EURO IA 2012 version)

    2. #UXAfricaFranco PapeschiService Designer 2
    3. #UXAfrica NGO founded by Tim Berners-Lee Web for social &economic development 3
    5. #UXAfrica“ Africa is undergoing a technologyrenaissance. “More than ever before, the population isbecoming more technologically-inclined,more web-dependent. Forbes – July 2011 5
    6. #UXAfricaGDP % growth (Sub-Saharian Africa, European Union, USA +5% 0% -5% Source: The World Bank, March 2012 6
    8. #UXAfrica 8
    9. #UXAfricaLanguages spoken2000 - 3000 Sources: 9
    10. #UXAfrica 60 ICT penetration in Africa 53 50Per 100 inhabitants 45.2 Mobile cellular subscriptions 40 38 Internet users 32.4 30 Fixed telephone 23.5 lines 20 17.9 Households with a computer 12.4 11.3 12.8 10 9.5 6.4 5.6 6.3 7.1 7.9 3.3 4 3.8 3 0 2.4 1.5 1.5 1.5 1.5 1.6 1.5 1.4 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 Source: ITU, Nov 2011 10
    11. #UXAfricaMobile TechnologiesBasic phones Feature phones SmartphonesVoice Native apps Full browserSMS Small browsers Video Graphic High power - High capacities GPRS Offline support Broadband / 3G 11
    12. #UXAfricaSMARTPHONES penetration5%25% feature phones70% basic phones Source: Balancing Act 2011 12
    13. IN PRACTICE? 13
    17. 18
    18. 20
    19. 22
    21. AGRICULTURE 24
    22. 25
    26. 29
    27. 30
    28. 31
    29. 32
    30. 33
    31. 34
    32. $ $BUYER FARMER BIG TRADER AGENTNews News FARMER News www www www 35
    36. Structure your service so thatthe information needsdrive the touchpoint design,and not the other way round 39
    37. Find how to increase trustin the service and in wayinformation is delivered 40
    38. How does your channel strategychange your business model? 41
    39. THANKS!FRANCO | @bobbywatson 42