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Monday Morning Mobile: How Text Messaging Is Changing the World

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By Seth Kaplan

I have mentioned before that on a weekly basis I receive more newsletters on technology, mobile in particular, than I know what to do with. However, last week one caught my attention and based on the subject I was absolutely sure that it would be the basis for this week’s column. The title was, “How text messaging is changing the world.” This is the type of report I dream of, as I figured it would be full of great statistics on the growth of SMS that I could use to make a convincing argument as to why everyone in the real estate industry should go mobile and use SMS.

I was wrong!

The article was in fact about how people and companies around the world are actually using SMS/text messaging technology to literally change the world. I was shocked and amazed (in a good way) by the ways in which this technology is being implemented, most often in underdeveloped countries, as a substitute for state-of-the-art IT and Internet, which is costly and not readily available.

The example that stood out most was that of Novartis, whose innovations in Tanzania and now other African countries are without question saving lives. The company, which provides Malaria medicine, faced the problem of properly stocking clinics in remote rural areas. Their answer was SMS. What they did was register one phone number at each of the remote clinics. Each week, an automated text message would be sent to that number which allowed clinic personnel to reply with a numeric code which indicated inventory levels of different medicines.

The initial results of the pilot indicated that more than 25% of remote facilities were totally out of stock of all medicines. Once they were able to accurately obtain that data on an ongoing basis they were able to reduce stock-outs to less than 1% in a very short period of time. They have now implemented the system throughout Tanzania and Kenya and are planning for Cameroon and the Republic of Congo.

Other examples included games that helped facilitate English as a second language program that could be played on the most affordable phones rather than smartphones and mobile applications that allowed urban professionals to find, select and provide microcredit to underprivileged borrowers in rural India.

The point is this: mobile technology both basic and complex is changing the world daily for a number of reasons; most notably penetration. More people have mobile devices than any other technology tool in the market today and perhaps in the history of our world, regardless of their socio-economic demographic.

To learn more about how you can improve your business and create new ways to reach consumers via their mobile device visit www.LifeinMobile.com.

Seth Kaplan is president of Mobile Real Estate ID. For more information, please visit www.mobilerealestateid.com.

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