For most people who opt for a career in tech and social media, coding, testing etc, the main aim is to crunch codes and create a brand value for themselves. Seldom do they and other around them realize that coding can go a long way than just minting money and getting popular. Software development can and does have a significant social impact in business. Often this impact is latent and invisible to the naked eye. But, if we dissect carefully, we will notice that coders and developers, through their software, benefit the society at large. Sometimes this impact is intended, for instance in cases of tech for good where social entrepreneurs deliberately use tech to create an impact. However, mostly this impact is unintended and comes out as a positive by-product. Social impact in business is widely acknowledged and desired today.
What are the social impacts of coding?
Different apps and software aiming at different sectors can often create similar social impacts for the society. Working in tech creates social impact-
Safety and security-
With the world increasingly becoming an unsafe and scary place, safety and security have become most precious, especially for women and children. Today bus tracking apps that most schools adopt are becoming security trackers. While their intention is to help the parents track the bus location, they ensure safety by acting as a counter wall to the driver indulging in any malpractice as he/she is aware that their movements are under tracking. Similarly, apps like Uber have a location sharing feature which well-wishers of the traveller can use to ensure a safe commute. Thus, such apps create a social impact in business.
Ease of life-
Coders have some important skills that are definitely making our lives easy. For instance, the on-demand apps, like ola, swiggy, etc are providing the most basic to the most complex services with a single click. Now you can demand any service and you’ll have it in a jiffy. By seriously shrinking the gap between the service providers and the service seekers, the on-demand apps and their coders are creating a social impact in business earlier unthought-of. They are making our lives easier.
Expanding the pool of beneficiaries-
In developing countries like India, a huge chunk of the population resides in remote locations and do not have access to the basic services like education, health and insurance, among others. Nowadays coders have come up with innovations like edtech, health tech and fintech which aim to take these basic services to the masses. Setting up the infrastructure for such services at remote locations may be an expensive and unviable solution. Nevertheless, such services can be accessed through smartphones and apps like byju’s, vedantu for education and so on and can be community owned. Coding can, therefore, be amongst the most valuable skills to learn to create social impact in business.
Finally, there are some coding ninjas who create software that challenge the status quo and injustices in the society. For instance, change.org, bitgiving etc, are digital platforms that are creating wide-ranging social impact, while being economically sustainable. Therefore, the benefits of programming knowledge can go beyond earning a livelihood; it can help you change someone’s life.
Why is communication of social impact in business important?
As mentioned above, the social impact that most coders create goes unnoticed when it is not the primary intention. Therefore, companies must be vocal about the social impact in business their employees create by taking up a career in tech and social media. There are various reasons for it-
Feeling of responsibility-
When individuals with a career in tech become aware of the social impact of their software, they gain a sense of responsibility. They start feeling accountable to drive change in the society. This becomes the first step towards responsible coding, wherein once acknowledged, coders feel it is their responsibility to create social impact in business through coding.
Increase in motivation-
Secondly, when coders are encouraged and appreciated for achieving something beyond their defined goal, they endure greater motivation. This will have a positive impact on their work. If a company appreciates its coders and deems coding and software development as important skills to have, motivation increases manifold. Recognition of social impact in business acts as a powerful motivator.
When one coder receives appreciation for creating social impact in business, it is likely that others will follow. This will create a ripple effect. This simply means that communicating about one social impact will encourage others to create the same to stay at par. Therefore, there will be a greater social impact, making tech a socially conscious domain.
How to prompt social impact in business?
By now you must be aware of the importance of creating social impact in business and consequently, the need to communicate its achievement. The natural next question that wanders one’s mind is the possibility to prompt this impact. Coders at times may be unaware about their potential of social impact in business and may require hand-holding and direction setting. This can be done by-
Rewards and incentives-
Firstly, companies can reward coders that create social impact in business. Rewards become a powerful way of encouraging the behaviour you desire. This can be through appraisals or goodies. Additionally, they can identify impact creators as potential leaders. This will create an incentive for all to facilitate social impact in business.
Companies can also adopt a more direct policy. They can make creating social impact a business target for all coders. In this method, coders will have to add some element of social responsibility in their software to meet the company needs. This way the company will achieve its said social impact in business. Additionally, when coders will be forced to add social impact to their products, they will understand its utility and make it a norm.
Make it a company policy-
As social impact in business is gaining real momentum, making it a company policy can be a good idea. Slightly different from setting targets, creating social impact through coding can be the philosophy that companies live by. This way social impact in business will not be seen as a value addition or an added burden. It will become an integral part of software development and therefore, a prerequisite for all coders to join the workforce.
Is social impact in business really worth it?
In a word, Yes. Making changes to your basic prototype to create social impact is definitely a good idea. For starters, it will bring good name to your company and workforce, thereby attracting greater investment and good media. Secondly, it will fetch a greater customer base for your software, giving a competitive edge. Finally, it will endure a sense of satisfaction of giving something back to the community and illustrate how coding and software development are the most valuable skills to have. Thus, if you stand at the crossroads of choosing between social impacts in business v/s no impact close your eyes and pick the former. It will benefit you in the longer run. At Recro, we believe in the power of social impact in business. Therefore, we strive to make all our products keeping in mind the social impact they can create.