In the book, The Birth of Plenty, the author William J. Bernstein proposes that prosperity is based on the following four tenets:
1. Property rights – Creators must have proper incentives to create
2. Scientific rationalism – Innovators must possess the proper intellectual tools in order to innovate and must be able to do so without fear of retribution
3. Capital markets – Entrepreneurs must have access to sufficient capital to pursue their visions
4. Transportation/Communications – Society must be able to rapidly and efficiently move information and finished products
Bernstein says that the presence of or lack of these four items determines the level of prosperity of a people or country.
When I read item four on the list I thought about enterprise mobility. I have worked on, seen or heard about many mobile enterprise applications that have enabled economic development and a higher quality of life. Let me share a few of them.
Case #1 – The highest bidder for an iron works project was in a distant land on the other side of the world from USA. If the American company accepted the bid, they would save millions of dollars, but fears over the product’s manufacturing quality nearly eliminated it from consideration. My team developed a mobile quality inspection application that was integrated with a central quality review database in the USA which permitted the bid to be accepted and the distant company and country to receive the economic benefits of this project.
Case #2 – Countries from around the world donated money and medicine to be distributed to areas in Africa that needed it. However, in order to continue donating, these nations needed visibility into the supply chain and distribution of the medicine. They wanted accountability and assurance that their donations were being used for their intended purposes. My team developed a mobile supply chain (chain-of-custody) application that monitored and reported the status of all medicine inventories and deliveries from this program in Africa. This information was synchronized back to a central database in Washington DC where all donor nations could login and monitor it. Without this mobile application, potentially billions of dollars worth of medicine would not have been delivered through this program.
Case #3 – A large global appliance company monitors their day-to-day retail sales via mobile devices with text message support. Each retail location, often in a corner of a larger marketplace, reports the products sold at the end of each day via text message. This SMS application feeds a system that allocates additional inventory and delivery schedules. This simple solution feeds a relatively sophisticated supply chain and logistics system.