Too many people in today’s world hold a troubling belief: Businesses can serve either the demands of their shareholders or the well-being of society, but not both. But we’ve found it’s not necessarily a choice between profits and the public good. A company that is guided by purpose and leverages technology effectively in the right business model can drive prosperity and improve health – while also creating significant value. Businesses that already do this recognize the world faces exponential problems that warrant bold action, and that big challenges can yield big payoffs — for everyone. To address those problems meaningfully, companies need to understand three other exponentials and how their intersection can provide the next leap in value creation.
Income inequality. Climate change. Lack of adequate healthcare. Dwindling natural resources. These not only are global emergencies but crises that in many cases are interconnected, with one or more impacting others — poor air quality leading to increased health problems, for example.
Technology has always been essential to driving both business growth and social progress, and the potential of today’s technologies is unprecedented. By themselves, artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, the Internet of Things, virtual reality and other technologies can be powerful. Together, they can enable fast, cost-effective scaling of solutions.
To avoid isolated successes and to have a real impact, exponential technologies should be combined with an effective strategy for development, deployment and ongoing evolution. Instead of traditional processes, inputs and outputs, newer business models that exploit network effects by taking a platform mindset to collaborating with others within an ecosystem can better shape the future.
Companies that operate at the intersection of solving crises, harnessing technologies and creating new business models are Game Changers. You know some of them from countless news headlines. Others remain under the public radar. Almost all work in high-potential, high-impact industries and on solutions that address one or more exponential crises. Some solutions may not even be new, but Game Changers find a way to expand or accelerate them beyond previous hurdles to scale. Through that, a company can bring progress as it pursues innovation — growing its business as it delivers on its purpose.
Our research of companies that we consider Game Changers found that they often share multiple characteristics. Here's how you can join them.
Envision a world where global crises are solved, then begin breaking that down into workable consumer solutions. Determine what strategies can remove barriers to scaling your business. A legacy business model that's combined with exponential technologies is unlikely to prosper.
Instead of pursuing near-term growth, understand the outcomes you want to deliver in the market, what approaches are needed and how you can measure them. Assess your impact in the context of the industry or contribution to crises, not compared to past performance against sustainability metrics.
Go beyond the bottom line for shareholders and dedicate significant funding to your ideas, providing the financial scale to demonstrate their viability and plan targeted expansions. Focus on where you want to use technology to bolster your capabilities within your niche and make a few big bets that could give you a competitive edge.
Determine where and how these technologies can deliver on your value proposition, then amplify their impact. Capturing data, running simulations and other uses of technologies can continually improve performance and deliver faster responses to customer demands.
Enable your teams to constantly innovate and iterate on how they deliver value. Technologies do little good if your people aren't encouraged to experiment with them. Leaders and employees should be empowered to believe nothing is impossible.