Blue-collar and no-collar internet

I was talking with my friend who is building a startup to help employers and employees to find one other in Germany. It is, for example, for a bus driver, car mechanic or nurse.  Is it anything new, there are thousands of recruiting services on the internet and everyone has a LinkedIn profile? Or maybe those services have served the highly educated, white collar, office people who are sitting front of a computer all the time.  Maybe we are actually seeing a new wave of the internet services for other than white-collar workers, i.e. for billions of people. And smart phones are the way to have access.

When you work with a laptop all the time, it is easy to forget that for most of people in the world, it is very different. They don’t use computers in their work, or at least they are not using it most of the time. And if they use it, it is not necessarily a personal computer, but a common device to handle some work. And also access to social media and many web sites can be restricted.

Smart phones have opened always-on access to web services for many more people. Facebook, news and chat applications have really reached a lot of people in mobile and people use those services constantly. But there are many more services on the internet, for example, but more professional ones are still mainly desktop or laptop oriented.

And it is not only a matter of access, but also user experience, and different kinds of people might prefer or need different kinds of services. Let’s take the recruiting services as an example. With your mobile you don’t want to type as much text as with a laptop. But also for many jobs the information needed about candidates is much less than for some highly professional jobs. And executive or academic people are good at describing their skills and experience. But someone with more hands-on skills hasn’t necessarily the skills to write nice marketing text, but can still be excellent in their respective work. We need different kinds of services for different needs and people.

Computer literacy and digital native are terms that are mentioned often to describe people who can utilize computers, internet and social media in their life and work. Most people need some computer and internet skills, but there will be differences, how well different people are able to use services. Even people’s capability to read, write and express themselves is very different.

LinkedIn has over 300 million users. It is only about 5% of the world population and less than 10% of mobile phone users. There are almost 2 billion smart phones in the world. Recruiting is only one example, but these numbers give an idea about potential for new internet services, and especially for other areas than media, entertainment or gaming services.

All services will become digital or have a digital component (read 3rd mobile era can kill or enhance any business). And this process is still in a very early stage, if we think about the whole world population. There will be a lot of opportunities to develop these services. But different people need different kinds of services. It is very important to design user experiences to match the needs and skills of the targeted users. And it is not only to develop the most fancy services to urban hipsters, but also offer solutions to user segments. It is the time to start building the blue-collar internet, and probably also no-collar internet services.