FrontlineSMS Founder Ken Banks was interviewed by The Ericsson Business Review last year, and this interview has now been made available online. The interview focuses on how we often define innovation too narrowly, and why “development issues such as education require us to start with the problem, not the technology”. A summary is available on the Ericsson “Networked Society Blog” here, and the full interview is available in pdf format here. You can find an extract of the interview below:
What role can mobile technology play in development?
Mobile networks open up the possibility of reaching communities that would otherwise miss out on any meaningful connection with the rest of the world, and allow them to engage, make themselves heard and to be empowered by information.
You have been involved in many fruitful mobile-centered development initiatives. What separates the successful projects from the unsuccessful ones?
The single most important thing is starting with the problem and not the technology. It is quite common for people to grab the latest smartphone or iPad or whatever happens to be hot at the moment and try to figure out how it could be used in a development context. This approach can work, but most of the time it is destined to fail. If you go in with technology as your main objective, you will end up shoehorning it into contexts where it will not always work. The solution to a development question could be pencils or paper – it does not necessarily need to have anything to do with ict. I think that the correct sequence should instead be problem-people-technology. By “people” I mean the individuals at the grassroots who usually understand the problem better than anybody else.
To read the full interview, please click here.