The Story Behind Recalls Plus
Having served in the Consumer space for the past ten years, particularly focused on writing blogs for the parenting community, you can imagine my surprise when a former mentor, Rishi Diwan (VP of Product Management for Consumer Apps at SAP) asked me whether I would be interested in working at SAP.
Highly skeptical whether my skillset would lend itself to this new challenge, I took the opportunity to catch up with Rishi over lunch and discover the latest on SAP technology. Rishi began by describing SAP HANA to me as an in-memory real-time data platform that is transforming the way companies run their businesses and develop applications. HANA is a unified platform for delivering real-time operational, predictive and text analytics on “big data” as well as for running both transactional and analytical processes on the same foundation. These capabilities enable developers to simplify their development experience and create integrated, real-time experiences for end users.
Fascinating, I thought, but as I played with my salad, I was not quite sure how my passion for the parenting community and consumer space could be leveraged in this space, until Rishi asked, “How do you feel about helping parents keep their children safe? Three months ago, I was asked to build an app that uses the disruptive capabilities of the SAP HANA platform as a foundation to help companies create unprecedented levels of customer intimacy; an app that will provide our customers’ customers compelling and scalable user experiences and deliver value to them by linking to the organization’s enterprise systems.”
Rishi went on to explain that a topic that had continuously come up was child safety, especially around recalls. People were not feeling safe. I knew from personal experience that there were only two ways of staying on top of recall information: you could subscribe to all the information and be deluged with irrelevant recalls, or periodically check each different agency for recalled information that were irrelevant to you. Neither option was working. I knew immediately that I wanted to be involved with supporting this project.
The app works simply: SAP built the app in such a way that parents can tell us what they owned through a Watchlist, which is then fed in to data taken from CPSC, FDA, USDA, and NHTSA, each curated for relevance for children’s items, such as strollers, cribs, formula and toys, in a personalized way for greater safety and peace of mind. If there is a match to any parent’s Watchlist item, we alert them.
Underneath the hood of Recalls Plus is a native iOS front end created in Objective C and a persistence layer powered by HANA. SAP uses HANA here to track the analytics and big data required for modern engagement systems. Key questions such as how users share, when are peak usage times, what events trigger virality, what types of patterns can be determined from recall categories, and detailed segmentation analysis require the power of an in-memory database. On the privacy front, SAP has applied enterprise class privacy and security requirements. We do not store personal information. Users can deactivate at anytime and all data is removed. Although the app is only rolled out in the US, we are also compliant with European data privacy requirements.
Our informal lunch led me to 9 months of exciting engagement with the parenting community throughout the US. The response from parents has been extremely positive: we received over 100 press mentions, were invited to BlogHer to share our news with some of the most influential writers, and have given demos and workshops at Birthing Centers and hospitals such as Kaiser. Two of the most exciting consequences of launching this valuable application was the opportunity to present at the Whitehouse Safety datapalooza in September, and reaching # 1 trending topic in US Twitter last week.
Recalls Plus will become a portion of a broader way that we help our customers engage with their consumers. Having this data in an open accessible format from the Government makes this all possible. Available in the U.S. market, it can be downloaded at www.recallsplus.com. Join our community via Facebook: www.facebook.com/recallsplus or Twitter: @RecallsPlus.
Check out what Kids think of Recalls Plus!