In talking about My First Computer, we are also (yet) thinking of connecting the employees to existing applications or databases. Our competition is paper and manual processes. What we are offering is a system which can automate some of the basic, repetitive tasks that people do and more.
A telephone operator, for example, can use it as a phone and address book. Instead of storing details of missed calls on scraps of paper, the operator can now send an email or an instant message to the concerned person. Is one call that may have otherwise been missed worth Rs 500? A librarian can use it to record books and magazines that have been borrowed, enabling employees to electronically browse what the library offers. Is their time saved worth Rs 500 each month?
One could think of many such scenarios depending on the people involved. Giving a computer with a basic set of applications (email, calendar, tasks manager, contact manager, browser, word processor, spreadsheet, presentation application, instant messenger) and more importantly, instructions and guidance to use these applications in day-to-day activities can definitely play a role in making their users more productive.
In addition, I feel that the empowerment and confidence that todays non-users will get with My First Computer will result in a more pro-active workforce. The computer can have that magical effect on people. All we have to do is to look back to the exhilaration we felt when we used our first PC. That feeling needs to be permeated across every employee in the enterprise.
The interface that is seen on My First Computer cannot be the one we currently see. Files-Folders-Icons along with the Start-Menu may be fine for todays power users. Is there something simpler we can offer to the novice users? It should be something which does not make feel that theyve been given a cheaper, poorer version of todays MS-Windows interface. In fact, they should feel delighted with what they have, not disappointed. There is a wonderful opportunity to rethink the first screen that users see and use for this next set of users. What we do them to feel is that they have a superior version of a new product, rather than an inferior version of an old one.
What is needed is the equivalent of a Digital Dashboard on the PC, which becomes the gateway for performing tasks, the aggregator of information, and the launchpad for applications. It is the one screen which users can think of as their electronic home.
My First Computer along with a set of ideas that simplify computing for todays non-consumers in enterprises can create the first step in opening up a whole new world of opportunities for the workforce. It is the key component in creating a new technology ecosystem in the worlds developing countries. It is the first step in creating nations whose populace is computer-literate. The biggest challenge and question which we have to answer is how can we make this possible (profitably for the entire value chain) at the price point we had talked of: Rs 500 per person per month.