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Mobile Apps 4 Charity: Enterprise mobility that makes a difference

Jim Cameron and Steven Crooke introduce their new, innovative volunteer project

by Ken Murphy, Editorial Director

November 25, 2013


ExpertIG’s Jim Cameron and Steven Crooke took a moment at SAPinsider's Enterprise Mobility 2013 conference in Orlando to talk about their initiative  Mobile Apps 4 Charity.  

Working with SAP, Jim and Steven are now bringing together volunteers to extend the idea of the charity weekend hackathon, for an opportunity to learn and create enterprise mobile apps that meet the requirements of two educational charities. 

Hear directly from the participating charities in a webinar with Chuck Newman of Schools for Children of the World, Sean Maloney of the Challenger Center, along with Jim Cameron,  SAP's Jim Jaquet, and Nish Pangali of SAP Corporate Social Responsibility team.

Listen in here for a quick overview of the project and how you can get involved.


Ken Murphy: Hi, this is Ken Murphy with SAPinsider Online, and I’m pleased to be joined by Jim Cameron and Steven Crooke of ExpertIG. They’re here today to speak about Mobile Apps 4 Charity. Welcome, Jim and Steven.

Thanks for joining us today. Could you start by introducing Mobile Apps 4 Charity? Tell us a little bit about the program and the idea, and fill us in.

Jim Cameron: Mobile Apps 4 Charity was something that Steven and I had an idea about at last SAPPHIRE. We happened to be at SAPPHIRE and part of the inside leadership group. SAP started talking to us about some of the things that we wanted to do, and one was to give back -- to find a way for the community to give back.

So in addition to organizing food packing events and other things - which were very good – and looking at how hackathons had been done in the past, we thought about what would be the great opportunity of being able to put together something like building mobile apps for charity, but doing it a little bit differently and bringing it forward.

So the idea came from last SAPPHIRE --working with SAP, talking about the SAP Mobile Platform -- and out of the SAP Marketplace team and out of their Corporate Social Responsibility group.  We had a launch this year at SAP TechEd to start recruiting volunteers and announcing the charities that we were going to work with.

I've been involved in hackathons  
where ... you program for 30 hours straight but the apps really never made it anywhere. Where I think  Mobile Apps 4 Charity is different, and where SAP is really providing help, is that we’re able to develop  enterprise strength apps.

Ken: What are the charities involved and can you tell us specifically what they’re looking for in a mobile app?

Jim: We must have gone through 200 or 300 charities that SAP had put together for us, plus a few on our own, looking for various things – and that the charities had some ideas of what they might want to do. And interestingly enough it took a theme. We wanted to stick with two charities to start; we’re hoping to grow from that depending on the volunteer base.

So, these two charities: One is Schools for Children of the World and I’ll talk about that in a second. And the other one is the Challenger Center, which are both student-oriented. Schools for Children of the World makes learning possible for people in developing countries. And the Challenger Center does a great job of taking STEM education and making learning fun.

Back to Schools for Children of the World: They were founded by a group of architects and engineers that wanted to donate time and help countries that were under-developed or hit by large crises like storms and earthquakes, and help them rebuild their school systems. And they have a great story to tell that’s up on our website ( They have interesting needs; you would think that a lot of apps that a charity would need would be around just getting donations and things like that, but these are real enterprise-strength apps that we’re going to build for them.

Challenger Center is really unique, when you think about an organization that was formed as a living memorial for the Challenger astronaut team that perished in the launch. The families got together and, rather than building a memorial for them, wanted to build a living memorial. And they wanted it to take on the mission that the Challenger mission had, which was education, the first teacher in space.

And the first mission was to catch a comet, which is what they were doing. So Challenger has 50 centers throughout the United States, Canada, as well as the UK and South Korea - and they’re growing quickly. A big technology organization, they make learning fun for STEM education, and our goal for them is to help them move that and take that a little bit further with mobility.

Ken:   Could tell me about SAP’s involvement and technology support for the project?

Jim: The first thing is, we could never undertake something like this without SAP. I mean, ExpertIG is a strong company, but we have nowhere near the resources or the access to technology that SAP has, and the group within SAP - with their Marketplace team and also their Corporate Social Responsibility team - really took this on, asked us what we needed to make this happen, and put it all together for us. And that included fantastic support and donation to have a launch party at TechEd - they wanted to really launch it in the style it deserved.

Also they’re doing a huge technology donation for these companies, because it’s not just your average app to donate to a charity or a consumer app. It really needs the enterprise strength that comes with the SAP Mobile Platform.

So we’re getting that, and then also we’ve had a great response from SAP internally, from experts and the SAP mentors, to really embrace the program, help us put the teams together, and help mentor the teams to be able to deliver the apps that we’re planning on building.

Ken: Sticking with SAP support, how does this expand or differ from the usual SAP mobile app development?

Jim:  I’ve been involved in building apps for charities, hack-a-thon events, where you put a bunch of programmers in the room loaded with every can of type of caffeine you can imagine and they program for 30 hours straight and they come out with an app.

But in a couple I was involved in, the apps really never made it anywhere, going forward. Where I think  Mobile Apps 4 Charity is different, and where SAP is really providing help, is that we’re able to develop these enterprise strength apps.

For example, for Schools for Children of the World they need to send out hundreds of people to do surveys and collect a lot of important data on iPad devices and then be able to organize and pull that data back in and analyze it. They have one of the largest databases of how to build a school in any part of the world, whether it’s needing electricity, or or other requirements, depending on a school’s size.

With the Challenger Center, they have a few different ideas for apps that they want to build. One of the short-term ones is organizing 50 centers and collecting information from the teacher as their students are going through the program. And to be able to do the research that they’re doing on STEM education and bring that in. With SAP as their platform, we provide secure connectivity and the strength in building the mobile apps.

Ken: You had mentioned volunteers, and that being a factor in perhaps expanding or increasing the number of apps. Steven, what can people do to get involved?

Steven Crooke: We are looking at three levels of involvement in the Mobile Apps 4 Charity.  

The first is we’re developing a core team - the people who are going to do a lot of the heavy lifting and organizing around trying to build these apps.

We have some people who have shown interest even though they don’t have the technical skills. It’s a way for them to give back and learn the technology at the same time. Second, the people who will be learning some of the technology along the way, donating their time by developing or managing some element of the efforts related to the apps.

And third, we’re looking for people who can evangelize this and spread the word. 

We have a lot of people who have joined because they have the skills and they want to give back. We also have people who have shown interest even though they don’t have the technical skills -- knowing that there’s going to be some foundational training and education and getting them up to speed. It’s a way for them to give back and learn the technology at the same time.

So everyone who wants to give something of their time can get involved.

You can go to and you can sign up on the website, and we’ll contact you.  We’re looking at the first iteration of the team, getting that together within the next two to three weeks. We’ll look to be able to provide a launch at SAP’s SAPPHIRE conference in May next year, where we can start showcasing what we’re doing.

Ken: Steven and Jim, thanks for joining us today, and good luck with the program.

Jim: Thank you so much we appreciate the time.


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