Social Innovation in Mobile – My Keynote at the IPA Mobile Inspiration Day

A transcript of a talk I gave at the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising on Social Innovation in mobile, 28/3/2012

Forgive me for stating the blindingly obvious, but it’s clear that, technology is converging in mobile devices. The first quarter of 2011 saw a momentous shift: for the first time, sales of PCs were overtaken by sales of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

And, while we don’t know exactly the form our devices are going to take in the next few years, there is a very clear trend towards what many of the speakers today have talked about – a connected device that travels with us wherever we are that is constantly producing vast amounts of data about who we are and what we do. A device that’s our primary interface with the world. Each of our devices – our tablets, phones, gaming consoles, devices in our cars, the sensors that will be an increasing part of our lives as the internet of things develops ­– are generating a vast stream of data, in fact, far more than we can use.

Wal-Mart, the biggest retailer in the US, handles more than 1 million customer transactions an hour, feeding databases estimated at 2.5 petabytes: 167 times the number of books in the Library of Congress, and there are many other examples of this data overload. Businesses now view data this data we’re all generating as a raw material – an economic input on a par with capital and labour. Data has been described as “the new oil”.

Large value is being unlocked. Insights that were previously unknowable are coming to light. We’re discovering new things, building new businesses, realizing new opportunities. And another benefit is what I’d like to talk about today: we can help people live better lives.

Time is short, so I’m going to focus solely on three initiatives in social innovation in the developing world, each of which shows demonstrates an original and successful approach to tackling very real problems that people face in three areas:

Health – counterfeit drugs in West Africa and beyond.

Displacement – the global refugees crisis.

Information – what happens when you can’t rely – or trust – your government?

All three are using mobile in dynamic and original ways.

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