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Creating positive social impacts through ICT innovations

Adrian M. Reodique | May 20, 2016
How can businesses make a profit through ICT innovations while creating a positive social impact?

The World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) this year was celebrated last Tuesday (17 May 2016) with a theme "ICT entrepreneurship for social impact".

This theme is in line with the work of ITU - a specialised agency of the United Nations (UN) for ICT - in unlocking the potential of information and communications technology (ICT) for young innovators, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), start-ups and technology hubs to drive innovative and practical solutions for catalysing progress to achieve international sustainable development goals focusing on SMEs from developing countries.

CIO Asia spoke to Derek Maggs, Head of Industries of SAP in Southeast Asia, to get his insights on how businesses in the Philippines can make a profit while creating a positive social impact by leveraging ICT.

CIO Asia: In line with the theme for these years' WTISD, how do you think businesses in the Philippines can make a profit through ICT innovations while creating a positive impact in the society?

Derek Maggs: ICT plays a huge role in the digitisation of economies. From retail and banking to healthcare and utilities, telecommunications has enabled the transformation of industries and services to improve lives of consumers. As a result of ICT, consumers today are able to experience online, omni-channel experiences that are not only more convenient, but also change the relationship between customers and brands. Specifically, ICT has shifted a lot more power in the hands of consumers.

Innovations in ICT, along with the rise in the digital economy, have also allowed organisations to reimagine their business.

A few interesting recent developments have in fact created a long-term impact in society as a whole. For instance, global positioning system (GPS) and radio-frequency identification (RFID) trackers are now widely used to improve the experience in public transportation. Real-time information about timings and schedules are provided to commuters to reduce uncertainties whilst increasing visibility of operators into their fleet and network.

Taking this a notch up, digital disruptors, such as Uber, have used ICT to redefine the public transportation industry. Not only does Uber rely on GPS to provide commuters with the nearest available car or taxi, it is also able to adjust charges to reflect the real cost of travel, especially when it comes to peak hour demands or congested traffic. Such flexible pricing means more responsive transport network and better mapping of supply and demand. Uber is a perfect example of how ICT innovations can be used to create positive impact on society even while remaining a profitable business.

GPS has also allowed cities across Southeast Asia, many of which are notorious for traffic congestion, to reimagine their road systems. Singapore has successfully implemented electronic road pricing with the help of GPS, allowing it to charge drivers for use of major roads during peak hours to help regulate traffic. This model will expand to drive behaviour throughout the city state.


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