Seventhman Blog

2014 Insights: Can Technology Save the World?

"social impact"A means to an end… or an end to a mean?  I’ve been thinking about this whenever I read the news about the latest innovation in the tech world.  The point of creating something new is to solve problems in the real world.  I just can’t think of any other reason than that and those who did so passionately have turned out to be a huge success in their field.  I believe that the question is not about coming up with any solution you can think of – but solving the right problem.  Think of it this way:  If you’re given 24 hours to save the world, what will you plan to resolve?  Sounds simple than you think, right?

The Problem With Breakthrough

Many businesses are still in the dark when it comes to creating new products, processes and services.  Try as they might to attempt solving issues which they think are important, there will still be missed opportunities in the pursuit of the next big thing.  How many times have we seen IT projects fail to deliver?  How often do we see new products failing to hit profit simply because it didn’t tackle the right problems?  We are living in a world where innovation is driven by challenges in a business, technical, political and social level.  No matter how many talented experts we have in the marketplace, success rates rise and fall dramatically.  Months to years of elaborate research and development have gone down the drain, with thousands to millions of dollars vanishing into thin air.

Through the Lens of Effective Leadership

Sometimes, when things go wrong, you wonder which is lacking: Leadership or problem-solving skills?  Leaders missed the opportunity to understand the depths and dimension of a problem.  This may have contributed in failure to implement things correctly.  Many fear that they spend too much time defining what the real issue is so they speed towards a solution like some crash-test dummy.  If one really wants to change the way things are right now, existing practices and protocols must be improved and problems must be viewed as a door to making things better; not as a distraction.  In my experience, transparent communication works.  When people are empowered to speak up, you can clearly map-out a road towards a viable, long-term solution. Your open-mindedness will break down communication silos, hands down.

Making a Big Difference in the Real World

To all tech startups, enthusiasts and fellow entrepreneurs, I have one question for you this coming new year: Are you ready to solve serious problems and make a difference in people’s lives?  You may have prioritized monetization, social capital, or influence when you spread the word about your creation.  How about social impact?  When I saw Jason Pontin’s Ted talk, Can Technology Solve our Big Problems, it made me think how social media and countless apps have enriched our lives.. from the Arab Spring uprising to inspiring memes.  But then again, how about coming up with something that addresses real issues like poverty, climate change and so on?  It’s nice to see the likes of crowdfunding, open online courses, and open source projects bridging the gap.  I just think that we can do more, especially in this age of interconnectivity.

Are you up to the challenge then?