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New technologies and corporate innovation increase competitiveness in social-impact business models

Managers from the Quirónsalud group, Correos and Samsung examine new realms of social-impact business and how companies can get involved by building them into their business models

“New technologies and digitisation are crucial for the creation of competitive companies, but this progress must be not only profitable but responsible. Companies must seize the helm and forge links between social and financial advancement”. These were the opening words by Ana Sainz, managing director of the SERES Foundation, in the talk entitled “Responsible business change based on technology” at the ESADE campus in Madrid, part of the ESADE – SERES Foundation lecture series about the onset of new realms of social-impact business based on new technologies and innovation.

Ignasi Carreras, professor and director of NGO management programmes at the ESADE Institution of Social Innovation, explained the evolution of corporate social responsibility and emphasised that this “responsibility must be linked directly to the company’s strategy and vision. Carreras believes that companies that prioritise responsibility more than strategy and make the most of technology will find great opportunities and new business models.

Digital change models involving social engagement

Adolfo Fernández-Valmayor, managing director of transformation and systems in the Quirónsalud group, explained the evolution of the healthcare industry. “Patients no longer want healthcare professionals with a condescending attitude so they have adapted accordingly and require greater proximity and transparency”. He went on to say that, “in response to this demand, Quirón has created the Patient Portal, a platform enabling access via PC or mobile to many healthcare services, such as patient records, results of diagnostic tests, requests for appointments or direct contact with specialists without having to visit a doctor’s surgery”. Furthermore, this portal, which now has 1.6 million users, has recently been certified as accessible for persons with visual, auditory, physical or intellectual disabilities.

Elena Fernández, deputy director of international relations and sustainability at Correos, confirmed the commitment of Correos to reach every citizen every day. In this respect, with a view to tackling the issue of dwindling populations in many rural areas of Spain, Correos has created Correos Market, “a platform to help local artisans and makers sell their products on line and make contact with consumers”. According to Fernández, this platform is successful because, although the project focuses mainly on social impact and was invented by the CSR department, it has evolved into a commitment that spans all departments of Correos including its general management.

As for how Samsung uses technology to make a contribution to society, Alfonso Fernández, director of marketing, communication and institutional relations, explained that, “we are firmly committed to improving citizens’ lives by using technology to overcome barriers and thus creating a better and fairer society. An on-going commitment embodied by #TechnologywithPurpose, a venture based on three cornerstones: education and culture, wellbeing and accessibility, and employability and entrepreneurship. In education, for example, we have the Samsung Smart School, a project that facilitates new teaching and learning models by incorporating technology into the classroom. Another project is Subject Empathy, a virtual reality video about using technology to raise awareness and reduce bullying at school”.