Technology to reinvent Social impact : Leverage government infrastructure

13 Feb

The relentless parade of new technologies is unfolding on many fronts. Almost every advance is billed as a breakthrough, and the list of “next big things” grows ever longer. Not every emerging technology will alter the business or social landscape—but some truly do have the potential to disrupt the status quo, alter the way people live and work, and rearrange value pools. It is therefore critical that business and policy leaders understand which technologies will matter to them and prepare accordingly.

Speed and scale are two key elements of disruption. They’re possible because new entrants typically build their businesses on internet-based platforms hosted in the cloud. Initially at least, these don’t require large real estate or staff outlays, and they can be quickly scaled if the technology becomes popular. Some platform companies grow incredibly large yet require very little infrastructure; Airbnb and Uber are great examples. Facebook has a market cap of about $356 billion and 14,000 employees. General Motors has a much smaller market cap, about $50 billion, yet it operates 400 facilities on six continents, and has about 215,000 employees. Quite a difference.

Innovative social entrepreneurs and mission-driven businesses are using data, social media, mobile apps, and other technologies to better solve problems around the world and reach more people and communities. We have entered the age of social impact 2.0. Startups, corporations, nonprofits, and government agencies are all working to tackle some of society’s most pressing social challenges at an unprecedented scale. No longer are we working in siloes, taking on small fractions of the problem at a time. Rather, we are pooling knowledge and resources around the globe to create opportunity for individuals to improve their lives – in part, powered by technology.

Technology led information networks can have a disruptive influence on  five common philanthropic practices: setting goals and formulating strategy, building social capital, measuring progress, measuring outcomes and impact, and accounting for the work. A glimpse of what is a possibility: an increase in new blendings of market-based and nonmarket solutions; of networked, often temporary alliances; and of more better and data, more readily available and at lower cost.

With the forcing functions in play the next decade will see explosive growth in networking for good, creating opportunities for innovative solutions to large social problems. Social Impact startups are shaking up this sector, and more change lies ahead this year. All stakeholders and world in general stands to benefit, but to do so they must embrace the startup mentality that’s driving most of the change. Providing free access to government technology infrastructure like Aadhar, UPI, Digital India platform, amongst others would help accelerate the journey.

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