MW4D Business Models
This document will investigate the current business models that have been implemented in mobile/Web/ICT4D projects, identify their focus and objectives, identify their requirements on the context, targeted audience, technologies, etc., and identify which elements in the context (infrastructure, policies, …) can leverage their applicability, or their usefulness.
Generic business model for a peer to peer mobile solution type
The following generic business was made following the implementation of a mobile service which aims at allowing small traders to post and read product offers via their mobile phone. This "mobile marketplace" places its users at a same level in terms of content creation and interactivity with the system.
- The Project initiator is the organization which conducts the solution set-up and ensures that the mobile service and its business model are well integrated by the solution owner and become sustainable. This organization closely works with the future local Solution owner.
- The Solution owner is the mobile service focal point in the beneficiary country. It is responsible for all aspects of the service's life as soon as the solution set-up and initial tests were successful and completed. If the IT skills needed to maintain the solution running are not "in-house", it will sub-contract IT-related tasks to an IT resource (consultant or company called IT support in the diagram).
- The Telecom operator symbolizes one or more telecommunication partners.
- The Solution users represent the target population of the mobile system/service.
Model service and financial streams
In this model, a contract needs to be signed by all three service providers. The service and financial streams showed in the diagram can be explained as follows:
- While the telecom operator provides the network to mobile phone users and charges users proportionately to network usage,
- the solution owner (and administrator) ensures service maintenance and quality for the end users. Tasks for this service administrator will vary from one mobile service to another and may require things like ensuring service content quality as well as providing user support (e.g. hotline);
- Depending on the local Internet service providers' quality, it may be sound to externalize the system hosting to another country, where hosting services are affordable and reliable (this point assumes that the mobile service can be administered on-line).
- In the above diagram, service hosting is provided directly by the project initiator. This solution has proven to be more efficient as it allows the project initiator to stay in touch with the solution owner even if it has a very low level of interaction with it. This way, it still has a minor stake in the system and can punctually serve as a service quality back-up. The project initiator can also learn from best practices and share them with other solution owners, in other countries.
- The financial streams rely on the fact that the telecom operator(s) view the service to the users as a "Value-added service". The fees collected at the user level can then be shared amongst all service providers on an income sharing basis, a common model for telecom operators.