Introducing the Digital Impact Alliance

We’d like to invite you on a journey.

Today, the Digital Impact Alliance, or DIAL, comes to life. Formerly known as the Mobile Hub, DIAL is a global alliance to harness the power of the digital revolution to transform the lives of poor and vulnerable men, women and children throughout the developing world.

DIAL’s founding partners – including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), USAID and the United Nations Foundation – share a vision of a more inclusive digital economy for poor men, women and children. In this vision, end users enjoy affordable access and ability to use life-enhancing services directly on their mobile devices. Governments and donors adopt digital tools to improve service delivery and improve transparency and governance. Small and growing businesses realize economic gains and deliver improved services by virtue of adopting cost-effective digital tools.

While many will agree on this vision, the practicalities of achieving it require time, resources and perhaps more than ever, a new way of doing business. Given the digital sector’s scale, novelty and pace of change, industry, governments and development actors need to step back and reconsider how we incorporate these transformative tools into our toolkit. To do so, we need to overcome several critical barriers, including:

  • Fragmentation of efforts, which undermines our collective influence, impact and value for money
  • Expertise gaps, which slow design, deployment and adoption of digital tools
  • Gaps in our understanding of what works, as policy, business, partnership and other models that worked in the past need to adapt to unlock the potential of digital tools
  • An as-yet unproven value proposition, as approaches for demonstrating the value of various digital investments and use of digital data to inform responsible decision-making have not yet emerged.

DIAL was created specifically to help the digital and development sectors to work more collaboratively to overcome these barriers. Its role is to accelerate and support the efforts of the larger community to achieve a shared vision of an inclusive digital economy, by fostering a more supportive enabling environment and breaking down critical upstream barriers. DIAL will mobilize a constellation of partners to deliver research, convenings, advocacy and projects to learn how to break down ecosystem barriers at scale. Through this portfolio, DIAL will enable governments, companies, funders, NGOs and others to improve their ability to improve how they deliver products and services to end-users through use of digital tools.

DIAL is in the final leg of its design stage, with its first CEO and other key staff coming on board early in 2016. We’re slowly increasing the cadence of projects underway, from undertaking research to understand innovations in last mile phone and Internet access to assuming the stewardship of the Principles for Digital Development.

Meanwhile, we invite you to join us on this journey. We may be the Sherpas on this trek, but we certainly cannot do this alone. We invite you to join us as we help to shape a more collective effort to transform digital development in order to realize the benefits of the digital revolutions for millions of underserved people.

Sign up for our newsletter. Follow our tweets. Apply to join our team. Watch for opportunities to partner in our early projects. Send us news about what you’re doing. And finally, watch this space: we have an exciting journey ahead and can’t wait to work with you!

Andrew Axelrod serves as the Vice President for Strategic Planning and Implementation at the UN Foundation, where he leads the Foundation’s strategic planning, project management, and monitoring and evaluation functions. As part of this role, Andrew has been leading the interim DIAL leadership team since its inception.

Beth Gertz has been serving as an interim DIAL leadership team member since its inception. Her contribution spans all aspects of DIAL design and launch, from development of the organization strategy and program portfolio to partnership development to communications. Beth is also the Managing Director of Seven Hills Advisors, a social impact strategy consultancy that specializes in the design of multi-stakeholder partnership and program design. Her expertise includes global health and nutrition, financial inclusion, economic development for women and digital development.