Today, the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) announced new partnerships to help develop its Scale-up Guidance Toolkit, a resource that will enable digital service providers to learn from other practitioners that are transitioning long-term existing digital projects and products to new governance and business models. By partnering with BBC Media Action, Esoko, Johns Hopkins University Global mHealth Initiative and Vital Wave, DIAL can source best practices directly from organizations that are managing these transitions around the globe in diverse sectors and provide pragmatic how-to guidance that maturing projects can use for their own models.
Digital deployments have continued to emerge throughout the world, demonstrating a growing demand for these services across several sectors including agriculture, health and financial services. However, few have successfully scaled to reach millions of end users and many continue to face key barriers that impede growth, including ongoing capacity and knowledge gaps, and fragmentation of efforts by key actors in the ecosystem.
To help close capacity and knowledge gaps, DIAL is developing practitioner-to-practitioner level guidance that can be used when scaling digital deployments. As deployments enter various stages of maturity, a different set of challenges confront the organization including strategic, commercial, legal, technical and implementation, given that business or technical model specifications may require significant adaptation. The “Scale-up Guidance Toolkit” will build on and extend earlier guidance outputs, which primarily focused on providing guidance to launch and design digital development efforts, and focus more towards what it takes to sustain an initiative once launched.
By pulling from partners’ experience, successful real-world examples and additional research, the Toolkit will be able to identify key factors that digital deployment projects should consider across the organization, share relevant case examples, and offer tools, templates and other operational resources to help others accelerate their ability to scale. It will apply to digital deployments regardless of sector or geography and will be made publicly available to ensure that the greatest possible number of digital service providers will be able to increase their capacity to deliver quality services to vulnerable populations.
“The Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) community has produced guidance over the years in helping plan and start new efforts,” said Kate Wilson, CEO, Digital Impact Alliance. “However, there are limited examples to inform what digital deployments should do once they reach the five-year mark. The choice you have to make is how to scale your effort or technology, but we have few proven lessons to learn from in the developing world. This work is to help answer those questions for countries and implementers who are transitioning efforts from start-up to scale.”
BBC Media Action, the BBC’s international development charity, which has designed, developed and scaled the Kilkari, Mobile Academy and Mobile Kunji product suite in close coordination with the Government of India, will serve as one case study to share its experiences towards more sustainable scaling. Esoko, a private for-profit social enterprise connecting smallholder farmers in Africa to agriculture markets, information and finance through simple mobile and web technologies, will also share its practices towards supporting successful scale in its digital deployments. These are mature programs that have gone through beta and launch, and are sustaining. As very few projects globally have reached this point, it is critical the digital development community learns from their approach, techniques, and tools. Johns Hopkins University Global mHealth Initiative will provide industry expertise along with technical precision and rigor for Toolkit content. Vital Wave, a professional services firm that provides end-to-end services to scale technology in low-resource environments, will work with DIAL to lead the research, creation and iterative design of the Toolkit. The firm’s history of working across sectors and industry verticals such as health, finance and education, will complement the other partner’s expertise, leading to a practical yet robust tool to further enable the scale of digital implementations.
The Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) aims to realize a more inclusive digital society in emerging markets, in which all women, men and children benefit from life-enhancing, mobile-based digital services. A partnership among USAID, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Swedish Government and the United Nations Foundation, DIAL’s efforts help accelerate the collective efforts of government, industry and development organizations to realize this vision. http://www.digitalimpactalliance.org.
Contact: Paul Quirk, DIAL