Through Code Conference Lens: How Tech is Breaking the Barriers to Addressing Societal Challenges

by Lara Birkes, Vice President, Chief Sustainability Officer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Jul 21, 2017 9:15 AM ET

Individuals and communities have never been more empowered to address societal challenges than they are today. Equally, they have never been more equipped to tackle them thanks to the innovation and technological developments at our fingertips.

When we think about the future of our digital world, we are seeing an increasingly decentralized approach to initiating change. This approach, coupled with instincts to partner and the power of networks to bring about impact, makes technology an incredible accelerator of large-scale change. Now more then ever, it is a problem-solving tool distributed to the masses, and one that increasingly enables action.   

Socially-minded tech leaders from around the world joined Kirk Bresniker, Chief Architect of HPE Labs, and me for a roundtable at CodeCon 2017. We challenged attendees to consider the question, “How might the innovation that drives Silicon Valley help solve some of the world’s biggest social and environmental challenges?”

Facilitated by IDEO, we used human-centric design thinking to explore the intersection of emerging technologies and social issues. How can the Internet of Things (IoT) sensor networks help us better manage our shared resources? How can memory-driven computing end deadly disease outbreaks? How can blockchain facilitate a clean energy grid? 

Over the course of the morning it was remarkable to see how cross-industry professionals came together to identify tangible, localized examples of applying technology for social good. From closing the funding gap for female entrepreneurs to enabling remote interactions with healthcare providers, the illustrations were plentiful and the enthusiasm palpable.

At HPE, we recognize the social applications of technology are invaluable to our business. A ripple effect occurs when customers use our resource-efficient technology in a way that amplifies the positive impact to society. As a technology company, HPE can be an enabler of, or conduit to, a better world. Through our Living Progress Challenge, we’re applying technologies to improve the lives of people around the world—from helping rural women save money and gain access to financial tools to combatting illegal fisheries trade. We’re proud of these steps forward, and are honored to be recognized as a ISPIM Awards finalist for driving innovation through the Challenge.

The discussions we had this week at CodeCon were incredibly energizing and I’m enthusiastic about the prospect of working with our partners to accelerate and scale the social applications of emerging technologies. I encourage my colleagues in Silicon Valley, and around the world, to tap into their unique potential and business offerings to help solve the extensive global and social issues we face today.