Jobs and the Future of Work

What is the value of business to society?

Sandeep Dadlani
Chief Digital Officer, UnitedHealth Group (UHG)
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In a recent interview published by The Guardian, Kris Gopalakrishnan, Co-Chairman of Infosys said that the true value of a business to society is not about making profits, but creating products and services that create advances in society.

I believe this is especially true today because the very epicentre of innovation has shifted from individual researchers and scientific laboratories to enterprises, a view point that also resonates with the outlook of thought leaders at the recent Oracle Open World.

The role of lead innovator comes with huge responsibility, and along with it, a chance to develop creative ideas for progress – the kind that looks beyond short-termism and narrow interests towards the greater good; progress which is so beneficial to society that the latter wants your organization to exist and excel. Let’s not forget these ideals in the mad rush to maximize profits, achieve a percentage increase in market share or meet shareholders’ ever-increasing expectations.

How can we integrate the pursuit of such progress within the organizational fabric? In my view, there are three ways, namely by: innovating with products and processes; designing new and better customer experiences and reinventing business models.

For instance, consider how technology innovation in the form of a mobile banking platform has provided financial access to the vast, hitherto unbanked populations in the developing world. Or, how advances in intelligent healthcare systems have made it possible to offer remote care to geriatric patients. And, take the example of the Global Delivery Model, which has been instrumental in developing entire regions in the emerging world into hubs of innovation, generating new employment opportunities for their people while delivering unmatched business advantage to enterprises in the developed world.

These ideas stand out not only for the obvious benefits they reap for the parent company, but also for their contribution to the community, sustainability and society at large.

What’s amazing is that often organizations don’t realize the significance of those moments, which will ultimately go on to create history. They fail to see a “not-so-obvious” breakthrough for what it is – a small yet significant building block of not just enterprise growth, but radical progress.

So far, such progress has really been a fortuitous outcome of business. It is time it became the core reason to exist for business.

Author: Sandeep Dadlani is Vice-President and Head, Americas, Retail, CPG and Logistics of Infosys. He is also a Member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Values.

Image: Businessmen cast shadows as they cross a street in Tokyo. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

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Related topics:
Jobs and the Future of WorkFinancial and Monetary SystemsClimate Action
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