Millie Paine
Junior Strategist

INTRODUCTION

How and why should we use tech as a force for good?

Despite being an ever-present modern reality, the technological revolution has been a contentious one. The ethical implications of technology are common topics for public debate – everything from the impact of Uber on black cabs, the potential for the Internet of Things to run entire cities, to the possibility that we may one day be replaced entirely by machines far more capable of doing our jobs than we could ever hope to be.

The underlying question to be asked is:

Just because we can do something, does that mean we should?

Although the exponential advance in the capability of computers is a potentially frightening prospect, technology can, and should, be used as a force for good.

The capacity of tech to help others is not just in the hands of scientists and researchers; brands can also use technology to serve a social purpose.

Uber is one example of such a brand - despite its contentious moral reputation, it recently ran another of its UberGiving campaigns in London, which provides an easy way to donate items to Cancer Research charity shops. Users could request an uber to pick up their spare belongings and drop them at a nearby store entirely free of charge.

The obvious benefit of schemes like this is to society as a whole, particularly when it comes at little cost to the consumer. The big multinational corporations, like Uber, do indeed have a duty to give something back to wider society. But from a brand perspective, social purpose can be commercially beneficial too.

While it may sound like a cynical approach, your business can benefit from the fact that consumers like to feel they've done something good by choosing you. According to a 2017 report from MediaCom, 49% of people, and 60% of 18-24 year olds suggested they would pay more for brands that support causes that are important to them. In this way, "good " tech can serve a dual purpose: improving profits whilst simultaneously benefiting society.

So, how can brands use tech to make an impact? To use one example, technology has been indispensable in reducing the 'us' and 'them' gap that might prevent people from donating to charity. Those in need can now share their stories across social media, making them feel more human and encouraging empathy. Furthermore, big data can be used to target consumers who will be able to add to the particular cause or campaign, streamlining your digital marketing to miximise its impact.

That being said, technological advancement is not without its downsides, for example, recent questions over data privacy or a more future-thinking worry about the digital skills gap are both causes for concern. Yet, the digital transformation has the capacity to do significant good for society, and it is this potential that should be embraced and driven forward by individuals and businesses alike.

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