Another great #digitalsurrey event

It was good to catch up with mobile supremo Jane Vincent from the University of Surrey at Digital Surrey last night. The topic was recent developments in mobile, presented by Jon Bishop, Head of Social Media at PayPal UK (@jonin60seconds). Jon’s slides are available on Slideshare and a detailed review of his talk was very quickly posted by Mark Wilson (@markwilsonit)

The purpose of this post is to flag up some points arising from listening to Jon, that could be pursued in a research project by Jane and myself as a sequel to our investigation from a few years back of the role of mobile communication in e-government. We suggested in this paper that mobile phones may offer the most viable electronic channel through which to encourage large-scale take-up of online public services, but ‘m-government’ would take a significant amount of time to become a reality unless there was a substantial change in social practices.

It was clear from Jon’s fascinating discussion of mobile payments in Africa that the developed world has a lot to learn from successful services developed in Kenya.

In the UK, mobiles have become even more central to people’s lives and business is clearly waking up to the marketing potential of location based services. But effective interaction with government services via mobile looks no closer than it did back in 2007.

The Digital Surrey community are by definition enthusiastic adopters of new developments in technology, but I’m not sure that the general population is quite ready for NFC and QR codes…and as Jon noted, 76% of websites are still not optimised for mobile devices.

Infrastructure issues still remain…just try staying connected while travelling by train.

And are smartphones really that smart? My BlackBerry (a recent model) takes forever to simply load a website, and if password access is required, forget it. I certainly won’t be using it to buy anything with. Perhaps a ‘hype v reality’ project might be a useful exercise…

Many thanks to Jon, Abigail and the rest of the Digital Surrey team for laying on great weather and free beer, as well as an informative and entertaining evening! For information about upcoming events, check out the website

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