Challenges in deploying a transactional mobile-web service in rural areasW3C’s Workshop on Mobile and Web Technologies in Social and Economic Development, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, June 4-5, 2011
In this paper, we have described various challenges faced in deploying a transactional mobile-web service such as Logistimo in rural areas. We bucket the challenges as human, technical and business. We have found, by experience, that for a service like ours, the non-technical challenges continue to surmount the technical ones, even where the technical challenges can be considered significant. Given rapid evolution in mobile technologies and operator plans, and continuous lowering of phone/plan costs, we expect the technical challenges to be resolved faster than the other ones. If one creates appropriate incentives and communicates them effectively across the value-chain, people are willing to upgrade phones and networks. The presence of a trusted value-chain of people up to the last mile appears critical to disseminate any new business process or technology.
To address the non-technical challenges, we expect a combination of economic incentives, scalable processes, core features in our tools and an effective communication of these to work well in our context. As we inch ahead, we eagerly await evolution and/or standardization of technologies such as 3G, HTML5 and voice, and expect to improve user interaction on the device using capabilities such as high-resolution cameras, GPS and accelerometers.