Can the ICT sector think big enough to tackle big challenges?

Proof Points

Can the ICT sector think big enough to tackle big challenges?

Although the 2015 Living Progress Exchange was divided into categories, two major themes arose everywhere.

HP and GlobeScan recently wrapped up the second Living Progress Exchange (LPX). The LPX is an online forum bringing together experts and opinion leaders from around the world to create a dialogue to learn, inspire fresh thinking and share good practice — not only for HP but also for the wider information and communications technology (ICT) industry, and business as a whole.

The first online LPX was in September. Building on the insights generated in the first event, the second event brought together experts from academia, business, civil society and government in a text-based discussion facilitated and independently moderated by GlobeScan.

Two sessions were held to enable people in different time zones to participate. Each session consisted of four one-hour discussion rooms covering the following topics: driving progress on sustainable technology, driving progress on sustainable supply chains, sustainably connecting the next billion and enabling improvements in environmental stewardship.

We are currently analyzing the wealth of perspectives shared across all the discussions, and a full report of the event will be released by HP and GlobeScan shortly. However, as we write this report, it is interesting to reflect on two key themes.

Go big or go home

While there is no doubt that for each of these topics numerous “low-hanging fruit” or tactical actions can be taken by ICT companies to tackle key issues, there was a clear sense from the experts who participated in the discussion that businesses need to “go big” in thinking about how they address some of the most pressing challenges we face today.

Solutions to issues surrounding energy, e-waste, supply chain and connectivity require larger system-wide approaches, with significant collaboration within and across sectors. They also require businesses to make adjustments to their business models in order to make sustainable progress, with the smartest ones making those changes first and thus gaining an advantage.

Small, incremental changes are not sufficient to deal with the environmental and social challenges we face. It will take leaders to lead with big ideas and goals to inspire and incentivize others to follow.

It’s all linked

As also became clear in the first LPX discussion in September, the seemingly different sustainability issues we focused on in this round soon became connected as the discussions progressed. While each discussion “room” had unique participants, it is remarkable how much the discussions overlapped on key points.

HP LPX 2015
HP and GlobeScan
</p><p></p><p></p><p></p><p></p><p></p><p>This chart is an early attempt to demonstrate some of these connections. The main report may address them in more detail.</p>

Such connections reinforce the notion that solutions to these challenging social and environmental issues will require systemic thinking on the part of all stakeholders in the public and private sectors.

However, these solutions will be aided by innovation within the ICT sector. There are high expectations for the ICT industry not only to drive environmental and social progress in its own operations and supply chain, but also to be instrumental in enabling other sectors to make the substantial progress that is required.

In ending one of the discussions, I quoted one of our expert participants, Jamais Cascio from the Institute for the Future, and I think it nicely sums up the rich discussions we witnessed throughout the LPX: “Nobody's going to fix the world for us, but working together, making use of technological innovations and human communities alike, we might just be able to fix it ourselves.”

Thank you to everyone who took part in the online Living Progress Exchanges. Your contributions and insights gave me hope that lots of smart and passionate people are out there looking to make progress.