Creating shareholder value used to be the key focus for companies. Today, brands recognize that there are several players in the ecosystem that will determine their success, not just in terms of business growth and revenue, but also in the way the company is perceived, creating brand equity across stakeholders. Stakeholders expect a clear enterprise purpose as well, and one that goes beyond profit.
Millennials, who now make up a third of the working population of the developed world, are driving a change in how companies are perceived. In a recent study, three-quarters said they would take a pay cut to work for a responsible company.
Harnessing digital technology to bring purpose to life is now within the grasp of all enterprises. While apps and tools are the visible aspect, underlying capabilities can engage and serve everyone from customers to employees, and partners to communities. Across industries and organizations, the purpose of technology has rapidly evolved to create positive outcomes for all stakeholders.
Here is how enterprises are driving change – by fostering inclusion, positive engagement and enhancing their brands through belief in their purpose – across the key stakeholder segments.
Customers-centricity: Barclays ensures inclusion with innovative design
Whether it is B2B companies or those in the B2C space, all brands recognize the need to be customer-centric, ensuring they deliver value to their customers, not just at the point of transaction, but across engagement journeys. A critical component of customer experiences is the ensuring inclusion and access – offering services and products that cater to the needs and demands of a diverse population.
UK headquartered Barclays, one of the world’s leading banks, recognizes its diverse customer base and is harnessing digital technologies to foster a greater degree of access and inclusion.
From offering bank statements to account forms as audio files or in Braille, to developing the award winning audio cash machines, Barclays has committed to fostering improved access to everyday banking services for the visually impaired.
The bank’s accessibility commitment is reflected in the specially designed solutions for clients who are managing speech impairment, visual impairment, mobility or dexterity impairment, those living with learning difficulties or who have special needs.
Employee experience: How Walmart is harnessing the power of automation
Employees are an organization’s most tangible connection to the world, and an engaged workforce can help drive better business outcomes. In the digital economy, mundane tasks are being automated in order to free up employees to pursue more rewarding tasks, like keeping customers happy.
For instance, in retail, keeping up with shelf-filling can be a very cumbersome and manual task for store employees. But Walmart has found an innovative way of helping staff keep the shelves stocked in an easy way.
Customers at Walmart’s Levittown, Long Island store may be too busy checking their purchases to look up to the ceiling. But a glance over the heads of their fellow shoppers would provide a glimpse of the new world.
The store is a pilot for Walmart’s Intelligent Retail Lab (IRL) project, using AI to monitor images from cameras and spot the lines that are running low and need restocking.
For employees, it means less back and forth around the shop looking for empty shelves that need restocking and then heading back to the stockroom to load up a trolley. IRL tells them what’s needed and where, saving time and lots of effort.
Walmart is also using robotics to automate routine tasks like cleaning floors, stock checking and picking customers’ online orders. The result: Walmart is creating truly powerful experiences that improve lives – both of their customers and their associates.
Partner ecosystems: How Humana is driving value-based care
Enterprises are fast recognizing that, to succeed, they cannot go it alone. Partners, suppliers and vendors are becoming ever more critical, serving as an extension of the company and ensuring values and purpose are shared across the ecosystem.
A good example of this type of ecosystem in action is healthcare, where delivery relies on a range of partners working together for the good of the patient. But some healthcare ecosystems have focused exclusively on treatment rather than improving overall patient health.
US healthcare provider Humana works with independent doctor practices to deliver care for its members. When the tax-funded Medicare programme changed the basis on which it pays doctors to focus on patient outcomes, one in five small practices saw their revenues reduced.
So Humana developed a concept called value-based care, which replaced the traditional negotiation between insurer and clinician over the cost of each procedure with a single payment for ensuring that a patient stayed healthy.
Using patient data shared digitally between doctors and Humana, the company has gone one stage further to promote patient health. Humana Cue is an Apple Watch app that prompts healthy behaviours. The company also provides a smartwatch app that integrates with doctors’ records and pharmacies to enable patients to receive repeat prescriptions.
Humana says value-based care is built on a shared belief with its partners in the importance of improving patients’ quality of life. The approach has not only improved the health of its members but also reduced the costs of healthcare.
In its first year of operation, the value-based care model reduced medical costs by almost 16 percent because patients became sick less often. It also took the pressure off hospitals and increased investment in primary care.
In 2017, almost seven cents in every dollar spent by Humana on member care went to primary care physicians. But that percentage increased to 17 percent where physicians were in value-based care arrangements.
Community empowerment: Mastercard drives financial inclusion
Responsible businesses and progressive leaders recognize that real growth stems from ensuring you take others along on your path to success. From ethical sourcing to fair trade practices and sustainable operations, enterprises have the opportunity to foster growth, empowerment and inclusion by recognizing communities as stakeholders in the business.
Jamsetji Tata, founder of the Tata Group, said: “In a free enterprise the community is not just another stakeholder in the business but in fact the very existence of it.”
With this in mind, when a community is struck by disaster, it becomes even more important for businesses to find ways to help. Mastercard is one company doing just that, by helping people who have seen the pillars of normal life fall away retain their dignity and rebuild their lives.
Teams from Mastercard spent time working on the ground with relief workers and in established refugee camps to understand how to help people get back their self-respect and take control of their lives while meeting their basic needs.
The result is a suite of digital solutions that are faster, more efficient and more secure than cash or paper vouchers. They restore an element of choice in providing for basic needs and help stimulate local markets as a first step to restore functioning communities.
For sudden emergencies, the company came up with a prepaid card with a difference. Instead of being loaded with money, the card offers food and other essential items.
Suppliers are given a smartphone-size device that allows people to select what they need by simply touching the screen. The devices use a secure satellite network so they can function where cell phone networks are down.
When displaced people are forced to live in refugee camps, their needs change over time. Studies at two centres in Kenya identified three stages from impoverished new
arrivals to intermediate residents who have a small social network and economically active residents who participate in trade within and outside the camp.
Working with Western Union, Mastercard devised a digital infrastructure that uses mobile money, digital vouchers and card-based solutions that allow people who are unbanked to progress financially and promoted self-reliance.
The purpose of technology: Fostering stakeholder capitalism
Enterprise purpose need never be in conflict with making profits. Stakeholder capitalism is about making the world a better place while pursuing commercial objectives.
And technology with purpose is key to delivering this vision. The purpose of technology in today’s digital economy is to improve the lives of people, whether they are partners, employees, customers or the wider community.
About the author(s)
Business & Technology Services
TCS’ Business and Technology Services organization combines the power of business excellence with digital innovations to help enterprises and leaders be purpose-driven and performance-oriented, making the shift from shareholder value to stakeholder value. By harnessing the abundance of data, talent, connectivity and capital, B&TS helps leading companies around the world build ecosystems that fuel growth and innovation, foster collaboration and engagement across ecosystems, improve health, safety, and well-being, enabling empowerment and inclusivity, and driving sustainability and positive environmental impact.