Home Linda Baker's Blog Creating value with mobile apps

Creating value with mobile apps

| Print |  Email
Linda Baker
Wednesday, May 30, 2012

BY LINDA BAKER

Everyone has an opinion about Facebook’s IPO mess and what it means for the Zuckerberg enterprise, tech IPOs, and civilization as we know it. For Astrid Scholz, executive vice president at Ecotrust, a market based environmental nonprofit, Facebook’s botched public offering yields two lessons. The first:  “you can’t make money off platforms per se.”  Instead, successful digital companies are those that actually sell tangible products and services: Amazon and Apple, for example.

Scholz’ second conclusion is more provocative.  Most internet business models revolve around one of three things: getting more eyeballs on the page, selling things or meeting people.  But perhaps “that phase of technology is running its course,” says Scholz. The next phase, she suggests, will be “to create software solutions that actually do useful things.”

Here one catches the whiff of the moralist. After all, one person’s use value is another person’s junk.  Yet Scholz’ point is well taken. What value has been created by Facebook, Google and the dizzying array of mobile apps?  How can we harness the power of the digital world to add more value — and then monetize that value with innovative business models?

I spoke with Scholz last month as I was researching my June cover story on green transformation; we followed up with another chat this week. (The Facebook IPO was just a happy coincidence). In the past few years, Ecotrust has been developing or co-developing its own digital tools, several focused on nurturing a more sustainable, or resilient, marine and fisheries sector.  “The questions we were asking weren’t addressed by Windows or Google, so we decided to build them ourselves,” Scholz says.

These tools include Digital Deck, a mobile technology tool that provides real-time access to catch information — collected from the boat deck — to help consumers, wholesalers and conservationists learn if fish is sustainably harvested. Another is Marine Map, a web-based open source platform that helps users, including fisherman and conservationists, visualize social ecological, and regulatory features of the marine environment.

These technologies serve a variety of data collection and consumer functions, offering marine planners fine grained information about the ocean environment and potentially offering more information to the consumer about the origins and quality of the fish they are buying. To that end, Ecotrust’s tools are similar to the "Smart Farmer" trend described in my green story, in which emerging mobile apps enable farmers to convey information to consumers and regulators about environmental and food safety.

MarineMap won a 2011 Tech Award — an international award that honors companies and nonprofits using technology to “benefit humanity.” 

Many things benefit humanity: food, water, clothes, games, even social networks. For  Scholz, one of the lessons gleaned from the Facebook debacle is  “the Internet hasn't grown up yet."  It’s also a call to arms: harness digital technology to create a new generation of value added web platforms and mobile apps.

Linda Baker is managing editor of Oregon Business.

 

More Articles

What I'm reading: Brad Smith & Travis Boersma

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Brad Smith, founder of Hot Pepper Studios, and Travis Boersma, president of Dutch Bros. Coffee, share their recent reads.


Read more...

How to help your staff solve their own problems

Contributed Blogs
Friday, March 21, 2014
03.21.14 thumb coxcoffeeTOM COX | OB BLOGGER

During a recent talk to HR Directors, I asked if they saw leaders trying to solve every problem, instead of delegating to and empowering staff. Every head nodded. Every single one.


Read more...

How to handle the unexpected

Contributed Blogs
Friday, March 28, 2014
03.28.14 thumb disasterBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

The next mysterious (or disastrous) event could be one that you or your team might suddenly need to respond to, probably under intense scrutiny.


Read more...

From the Editor: The human factor

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

In this issue, we celebrate our 21st annual 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon project.


Read more...

Why I became an educator

News
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
03.04.14 thumbnail teachBY DEBRA RINGOLD | GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

How can we strengthen the performance of institutions charged with teaching what Francis Fukuyama calls the social virtues (reciprocity, moral obligation, duty toward community, and trust) necessary for successful markets and democracy itself?


Read more...

How to boost web traffic

News
Thursday, April 10, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY  | OB WEB EDITOR

04.10.14 thumb seo-trafficSEMpdx hosted a workshop this week for entrepreneurs, website developers and others interested in search engine optimization (SEO).  Here are a few tips and tricks aimed at bumping up your search engine rankings.


Read more...

The 2014 List: The Top 33 Small Companies to Work, For in Oregon

March 2014
Thursday, February 27, 2014

100best14logoWebOur 100 Best Companies project turned 21 this year, so pop open the Champagne. Our latest survey gives us plenty to cheer.

 


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS