What Matters Most is People – Shape Technology for the People


Authored By Zoe Yan.

Lien Centre for Social Innovation and social enterprises, billionBricks and Jaga-Me discussed about the Smart Nation initiative that drives innovative solutions for social causes. They urged us to shape technology for the  people using them, not the other way around. Here are some of the main points.

1. Provide what the user wants, not what you think they want. Prasoon Kumar of billionBricks did not believe the poor should receive poorly-designed habitats just as the givers would not live in uninhabitable containers. They knew what they needed, so let them demand for it. Well-designed temporary housings should adhere to the geographical surroundings to keep the residents warm, dry and safe. High quality and well insulated tents that were created have a spin-off business effect, Prasoon quipped. Eventually, better-off and discriminating customers who came to know about the new product would pay a premium for the quality.

2.  Design around the recipient’s needs. Julian Koo of Jaga-Me laid emphasis on the use of technology to complement (fewer) manpower. Sending on-demand nursing services to where the terminally ill patients lived not only serve to provide specialized nursing care but also help to make life easier for family members.

3.   Have a right support system. Using mountaineering as a metaphor, Jonathan Chang of Lien Centre of Innovation, likened success factors for a social enterprise, to having a right team with the necessary expertise to execute the vision, guides/mentors to provide expert feedback and advice. Following the mountaineering adventure, he recently completed, Jonathan cautioned that preparations would not prepare you fully. Be opened instead to learn as you go as you immerse yourself in the real-time ground situation. Keep your final goal (e.g., peak of the mountain) in mind as you embark on the journey every day.


What was the social cause that spurred you to embark on your journey into unknown territory? Keep it always in view, through the low and high times as the destination that you aim to reach.