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Taking Tech for Good Mainstream

Taking Tech for Good Mainstream

By CNBC-TV18 Apr 20, 2021 4:21:01 PM IST (Published)

The third session of NASSCOM Foundation’s #TechForGood eSeries, powered by CGI, was held on 31 March. The webinar talked through four broad sections, each discussing the role of technology as an enabler for positive social change, especially for the underprivileged. It covered various discussion points, including the need for accelerating technology adoption to overcome the socio-economic divide and the roadmap for transforming the entire nation by leveraging technology efficiently, effectively, and sustainably.

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Inclusion Through Frontier Technologies and Collaboration
The session began with an inspirational keynote from Mr Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, Govt. of India, who spoke on the role of artificial intelligence and other frontier technologies to address inclusion and social empowerment challenges. Whether it is the digitisation of identities through Aadhar cards or the use of frontier technologies like Blockchain and Machine Learning, the Indian government is using technologies to push financial, social, and economic inclusion in the country.
Mr Kant concluded his speech by urging everyone to come together and said, “The government cannot do everything alone. We need everyone in the ecosystem to come together. Technology in itself is not the end goal; the goal is to make a difference in people's lives. People-centric frameworks for technology adoption and application will be the cornerstone of India's approach going forward.”
After a sneak-peek into the Indian government’s efforts to adopt digital technologies, Mr George Mattackal, President, Asia-Pacific Global Delivery Centers of Excellence, CGI, delivered another insightful keynote speech that focused on the three main initiatives of CGI to drive tech for social good. Like Mr Kant, he also emphasised the need for everyone to come together to turn adversity into opportunity through technology. He said, “2020 was indeed an unexpected, unusual, and challenging year. However, it has provided us opportunities to accelerate social change through technology.”
Key Takeaways of the Tech for Good Report
The key findings of the report include:
  • Clear Tech for Good focus: 91% of the organizations view Tech for Good as a strategic focus. 61% have already established a Tech for Good practice, while for 30.3%, it is a key strategic focus and are working towards it. 6% plan to create a new Tech for Good Practice and 2.5% is not currently looking at Tech for Good.
  • Education and Livelihoods emerge as top focus areas for Tech for Good: 56.9% of the organizations rated Education as the highest Tech for Good focus. Livelihoods closely followed this as a focus area for 50.43% organizations.
  • Tech for Good aligns with business strategy: For 93.97%, Tech for Good development aligns with their business strategy, while 66.38% reporting complete alignment and 27.6% displaying partial alignment with their plan.
  • Current Local issues influence Tech for Good more than the Global issues: 55.26% reported aligning Tech for Good to solve local issues, while 42.9% organizations aligned their Tech for good to solve global issues.
  • Employee Engagement and Innovation quotient: 54.3% of organizations align their Tech for Good with Employee engagement and innovation quotient development.
  • Dedicated teams for Tech for Good: Over 65% of the organizations have dedicated teams for Tech of Good, of which 36% of the organizations have these teams present across various business units.
  • Budgets for Tech for Good: A company with a clear Tech for Good practice spends an average of $36,515 on Tech for Good per year. This is over and above their regular CSR contributions.
  • Mobile and Web apps are the preferred choice: While mobile apps (81.36%) and web apps (84.48%) rule the Tech for good development space as the most preferred technology, Artificial Intelligence (64.10%), Big Data (54.78%) and Cloud (72.65%) are also growing in this niche.
  • Lack of Funds: is the largest challenge for social enterprises to scale up their Tech for good solutions, as pointed out by 92% of them. Only 27% of social enterprises received CSR funds for scaling up.
  • Gap in Tech creation and usage: There is a massive gap of 40 percent points in the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) based solutions by the companies and their use by NGOs. There is also a large gap for Big Data (29.21), Cloud (31.01) and Blockchain (27.98).
  • Gap in NGOs Tech Skills: The study also exposes a significant skills gap for the NGOs across all technologies with a minimum 20 percent point gap in mobile app usage skills and a maximum 50 percent point gap for usage of AI based solutions.
  • The report can be downloaded from https://bit.ly/T4G-Report
    The session also had an interactive panel discussion that consisted of elite panellists comprising Rebecca Masisak, CEO, TechSoup; Sudhir Subbaraman, Senior Vice President, Business Unit Head, CGI; Shradha Sharma, Founder & Chief Editor, YourStory; and Rahul Panicker, Chief Research & Innovation Officer, Wadhwani AI.
    Innovation at the Grassroot Levels
    All the panellists shed light on how their respective organisations are using technology to help solve the socio-economic challenges of a country as vast and diverse as India. The opening remarks saw Ms Masisak succinctly explain how her non-profit is facilitating the use of technologies at grassroots levels with the help of smaller NGOs. Mr Subbaraman elaborated on how he thinks of solving social-economic challenges by aligning tech for good with a business approach.
    Ms Sharma elaborated on how YourStory has been enabling social entrepreneurship by creating an ecosystem of digital media and communities for the last 13 years. The opening remarks concluded with Mr Panicker expressing his views on how AI can transform critical sectors like healthcare, education, and financial services and gave two examples of how tech innovation is aiding inclusion at the bottom of the pyramid.
    Well-Connected Network for Scaling
    The panel agreed on scaling social innovation models through a proper partnership network and corporate social responsibility. Ms Masisak emphasised the need to have a well-connected network of NGOs, corporates, and foundations to touch the lives of millions in the remotest areas of the country with technology.
    Mr Subbaraman seconded Ms Masisak’s comments and said, “In recent years, there's a strong growing interest in the community and not just on shareholder value. The way it is manifesting is the emergence of three different models, broadly of investing in corporate responsibility: impact investing, socially responsible investment (SRI) and environmental social and governance (ESG).”
    Ms Sharma and Mr Panicker both agreed on the role of mobile apps and social media in changing society for good. Whether it is IoT in sectors like agriculture or creating an entrepreneurship ecosystem with social media for information dissemination, technology can lead to sustainability. However, this can only be achieved by engaging civil society organisations and building partnerships across different sectors.
    The webinar concluded with an interactive Q&A session. Watch the full webinar here:
    The Foundation also announced the launch of the Tech for Good awards 2021 for all companies, social enterprises and NGOs. Apply now at https://t4g.nasscomfoundation.org/
    This is a partnered post.
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