One of the richest men in the world is investing in developing technologies to deliver cheap and reliable clean energy to the world, a serial entrepreneur is venturing into transforming the way we know transport, top universities are offering free online courses in platforms known as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
What a few years ago was pure aspirations, now businesses are making them a reality.
Moving away from the “only profit” driven to a value creation mentality, businesses are learning to create and capture value while addressing key pressing issues in society.
And while there is no way to guarantee success, their strategies seem to share common aspects: new market, proprietary technology, and positive impact.
Welcome to the time of a new type of businesses, the type that is creating and capturing value while promoting social progress.
The changes of business to society relationship offer opportunities to create and capture value while also advancing society.
These opportunities come from new markets waiting to be explored where customers are expecting businesses to provide unique and high-quality solutions but also create a positive impact on environment or society.
The counter-intuitive part of constrained markets is that even though they seem to be the last thing that is desired, in reality, they are the perfect place to create new markets.
Constraints in business are the conditions needed to create value, they forced us to challenge current industry conditions and to move away from zero-sum types of strategies to ultimately creating markets away from competition.
Businesses that ignore opportunities in the social challenges are missing a great chance to disrupt and position themselves in a market full of potential.
By exploring areas that are relegated businesses can create value and captures most of it, due to lack of competition or dominant position.
But even in new markets, business ideas will attract competitors once their potential becomes obvious.
And even though the idea or opportunities can be obvious at that time, the execution of the idea shouldn’t be, the execution should encompass activities and resources unique to the business.
One of the strategies businesses are adopting to maximize sustainability in new markets is the creation and constant improvement of proprietary technology.
Technology has advanced so much, but the perception of the value that it brought to society is always questioned.
It may be easy to ignore the aspects that society has benefited from technology while there are still great social challenges to address.
Proprietary technologies can be part of the solution if businesses include in their strategy aspects to solve pressing social challenges.
Customers have an increasing awareness of the impact of their actions and when choosing a service or product they feel they have the option to contribute to a better environment or at least minimise its damage by choosing services or products aligned with their expectations.
This represents a great opportunity for businesses not just to create a positive impact on environment and society but to address an increasing number of customers tired of existing conditions and looking for positive changes.
Creating a positive impact on environment and society is also a strategy that puts customers at its core and it is properly executed when done genuinely and with transparency.
Market and social norms
The relationship between businesses and society has been changing since its beginnings.
What has started with a purely transactional relationship only within the market norms, various aspects of the relationship have moved since then into the social norms.
While this may be because businesses have tried to obtain customer and employees loyalty advantages by projecting themselves as socially responsible, it has now created expectations where the relationship is not just transactional but social.
This change in relationship is also changing the ways businesses define strategies to generate value.
By definition a business bottom line is profit, but in a business-to-society relationship that has changed so much, an only profit-driven strategy is not sustainable anymore.
Businesses that adopt strategies to promote social progress have not just a great potential to create value for society but as well capture a good deal of value by doing so.