Strategic CIO // IT Strategy
Commentary
6/11/2014
10:45 AM
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Mobile Business Without The Apps

SAP technology helps Brazilian job site contact workers where they are -- on cellphones, but without apps.

Jacob Rosenbloom approached Brazil's labor market as an investor. He saw, he said last week in a media conference at SAP's SapphireNow conference, a labor market of 102 million people, of whom only about 15 million have any education beyond high school. How could a company build a labor market to serve a laborer who doesn't know what a resumé is and has never used a personal computer? According to Rosenbloom, CEO and co-founder of Emprego Ligado, the largest blue-collar employment site in Brazil, his firm did it by building a company that was mobile from the ground up.

SAP, which announced general availability of the SAP Mobile Platform 3.0 on May 22, provides the backend application that allows Emprego Ligado to take information from cellphones and turn it into records that potential employers can use. The process is complicated by the fact that the workers in Emprego Ligado's target labor pool tend not to have smartphones, so an app isn't a good option. The company turns, instead, to standard SMS messaging to build a profile of each worker and communicate with them concerning job opportunities.

The lack of an app doesn't mean that Emprego Ligado has the luxury of ignoring user interface design. "Customers are so used to being spoiled by beautiful UX that we need to understand the wants and needs of everyone who's going to touch our app. The way the customer interacts with our system is through SMS -- they think they're talking to their mother or a friend. We had to look carefully at the language we use to maintain the relationship," said Rosenbloom.

[Learn more about SAP. See SAP Chairman Hasso Plattner: Exclusive Q&A.]

Careful use of the SMS interface coupled with backend analytics allows Emprego Ligado to match job seekers to jobs based on one of the most important indicators of a successful match: physical proximity to work. "We found that the defining factor in someone's success in interviewing was how close they are to where they'll be working," Rosenbloom said. He explained that this is an issue for both the workers and the companies that are Emprego Ligado's customers. "When turnover is too high, it's a problem for everyone."

Rick Costanzo, executive VP and general manager of global mobility solutions at SAP, pointed out at the media conference that mobile is the most prevalent technology in emerging markets. Rosenbloom agreed, saying, "We looked at the tools available to consumers in the emerging markets: They don't pay to have a professional network profile created, and they don't use mobile professional tools, but they do have mobile devices in their hands."

Rosenbloom's observations are in line with the results of the Pew Research Global Attitudes Project survey on mobile device use. According to the survey, 80% of Brazilians own a cellphone, with only 15% of those qualifying as smartphones. The cellphone ownership numbers compare with 49% of Brazilians who say that they either own a smartphone or occasionally use the Internet in another way. Since smartphone ownership and Internet use are each highly correlated with education, it's obvious that simple cellphone text messaging is the dominant technology for reaching blue-collar workers -- and is likely to remain so for some time to come.

Costanzo says that, while he has no question about the power and impact of the SAP Mobile Platform, there is one aspect of the product line that has a less rosy future: the product description. "Mobility is an archaic term because everything is mobile now," he said.

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Curtis Franklin Jr. has been writing about technologies and products in computing and networking since the early 1980s. He contributes to a number of technology-industry publications including Information Week , ChannelWeb , Network ... View Full Bio
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Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Strategist
7/10/2014 | 6:21:25 PM
Re: Everything is mobile now
@Susan, you make a spot-on point about the greater picture of poverty in this country. But surely if we could get past the social cache of having an unnecessarily "bling" phone, the less advantaged in the US as elsewhere would benefit from a cheap SMS device that can be used entrepreneurially.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/2/2014 | 2:56:40 PM
Re: Everything is mobile now
@Ashish: Ow! that water example from Detroit really stings, and it's emblematic of the truly horrendous state of affairs in that city. I was, of course, thinking of more positive uses, such as information on where to get food, clothing, financial guidance, or other public services. But if the city has no money to provide water I suppose it's a moot point.

The basic structure of the telecom market is indeed very very different here in the U.S., although even with carrier subsidies the cost of an iPhone is probably well beyond what most people living below poverty level can afford even here. Typically, the phone is offered for $200-$300 with the carrier subsidies, and you need a good credit rating here in order to get a contract with a wireless carrier. They lock you into a 2-year contract with costly data plans. 

I'm not going all #firstworldproblems on you, I truly get that the situation for those living in poverty around the world can be truly dire and in no way do I seek to minimize that.

Rather, my fears are additive: We all too often overlook those who are going hungry in our own backyards here in the U.S. -- as your link to the Detroit water news so aptly points out. And the divide between rich and poor is growing wider and wider here as well.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/2/2014 | 1:08:11 PM
Re: Everything is mobile now
@Curt: It's true there are generational forces at play here too (though I often like to point to my 80something Aunt Mary -- who is more tech-savvy than some 22-year-olds I know -- as the exception to that rule). My concern in the socioeconomic sphere is not limited to the phones themselves, but also the cost of data plans and montly access fees.

 
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
7/1/2014 | 7:19:13 PM
Re: I have seen similar trends in place in Africa for Mobile Commerce
interesting as I do see trends where everyone uses SMS but not voice calls... it would be interesting if any one come up with SMS device with out voice capability... like yahoo chat device in 1999/2002...
StaceyE
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StaceyE,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/30/2014 | 8:20:15 PM
Re: Brilliant
That is a good point. Appless sounds good to me too.
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Strategist
6/29/2014 | 10:46:33 PM
Re: I have seen similar trends in place in Africa for Mobile Commerce
The example of SMS usage in the developing world is simply a matter of users making use of the best technology at hand. Give them some bandwidth and iPhones, and I think you'd have app development. In fact, that's what's happening in Latin America and Asia where smartphone usage rates are increasing.
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
6/28/2014 | 2:43:26 PM
Re: It doesn't have to be Brazil
Henschen,

The way I look at it,the Telecom Companies would love it if Consumers simply used SMS for everything today.

Given how High the Profit Margins are on SMS today;its an obvious solution for them.

Doubt if that will provide the best consumer experience though.

Regards

Ashish.
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
6/28/2014 | 2:23:59 PM
Re: Everything is mobile now
SusanN,

Obviously this revealation has many ways of impacting consumers here in the US also .

If one has to look at Differences,I would say that Smartphone Percentages (particularly iPHones) would be very-very high in America.

This is not because Americans in General are richer than the Average Brazillian(they are'nt they are just in much more Debt) but Because telecom firms give away Smartphones with 2 year/3 year contracts relatively easily.

You can't do that in most other countries so consumers have to largely pay for these Phones in Cash(especially if they have poor Credit History).

How app designers use the fact that there are more iphones in American Consumers hands to deliver the best possible App Experience remains to be seen going ahead.

You feel its possible for the Authorities in Detroit to communicate the fact that they plan to cut off Water Supplies much quicker than they do?

http://news.yahoo.com/no-money-no-water-detroit-shutting-off-h2o-204442922.html

Regards

Ashish.
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
6/28/2014 | 2:03:35 PM
Re: What is the IW Pick Badge?
Broadway,

You are'nt the only one.Believe me,I have been in that very same boat dozens of times previously.

It has often reached a situation for me personally that I abandon FB and other Social Networks for a significant degree of time when I don't feel like it.

Speaking about Facebook,I just came across this interesting article on how FB is fighting a Court's Demand for Access to User Data.

Guess its okay when FB wants to sell the Data to the Highest Bidder around but if the Court wants to use that Data to protect Taxpayer Resources its a problem?

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-28055909

LOL!!!

Regards

Ashish.
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
6/28/2014 | 1:44:31 PM
Would'nt Geolocation work wonders here?
Curt,

I was wondering about your post;especially the Point where you said most employees tend to look for Jobs in Areas close to where they work and wondered;Can't you get all this Data directly from the Phone Company?

I mean,why go to all the trouble of interacting with all these Consumers in the first place?

Sure,you would have to pay the Phone Company then;in addition you won't be able to provide Consumers with a personalized /customized Service.

But apart from that I don't see any major obstacles here.

Just Thinking.

 

Regards

Ashish.

 
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