An odd couple – idealism and practicality?!
Think of an ideal world! … With well-being, a safe and healthy environment, and no financial worries. We would achieve sustainable equilibrium and with continual day-to-day stability, enduring happiness. Being contented, we wouldn't yearn desperately for things we don’t need, keeping safe the fragile balance of resources and consumption.
Idealism is a vast imaginative leap – or is it?
Current reality is all too different. People have to cope with constant conflicts, compromised environments and financial hardships.
The question confronts us - what can business and industry do to bridge the massive chasm between the ideal and the all-too-real?
For a start, we propose that IT is a massive change-making force for all enterprises and our whole society.
Seeing how many now-enormous companies have been started from tiny beginnings in garages or college rooms, there is enough evidence that even small computing power and web access enable BIG changes. IT is already the keystone of human daily activity, doing wonders where it works efficiently or condemning us to long and futile servitude when it doesn't!
What does this mean for IT companies pursuing practical idealism? Shouldn’t IT companies just stay with the day-job of improving clients’ bottom lines, leaving idealism to pundits and dreamers?
… Proper answers to these questions are debatable - but IT can do much which powerfully helps bottom lines and which also supports idealism.
Straight off, we spend a big proportion of our waking hours at work. If our workplaces do not function well, our qualities of life and of work are poorer. Because ERPs determine job structures, procedures and how a company operates, they can have a significant role in turning working experiences from negative to positive.
For illustration, ERPs can now absorb neuroscience findings about how we humans can do our best at work and in life. These findings give insights about evolutionary traits imprinted upon us - such as how we view threats, want to have choices, manage changes, benefit from social connectedness and from neuroplasticity. ERPs can use these to inform corporate procedures, in order for modern humans to excel.
Software as catalyst for ethics in business Software companies are highly important in modern society: software has a major influence over the shaping of the digital world - and therefore bears a large responsibility to society as a whole. Good business systems enable financial sustainability through software which is human-centred.
Core features of good business software are participatory design with users in client companies, human-computer interaction, and continuing adaptive support. Good software houses invest continually in innovation, in expert knowledge workers, since their work is based on knowledge intensity, human capital, R & D.
The biggest expectation of corporate software is to help the bottom line. If in an ideal world, general prosperity is important, the creation of extra wealth could facilitate that.
Improving companies’ investment returns allows experimenting with new incentive schemes. These can make a progressive step towards widening general prosperity.
A win-win situation becomes possible as the incentivised sharing in the proceeds of more efficient businesses promotes a “good spiral”. More engaged and more motivated staff tend to boost further efficiency gains. They add more to the bottom line with more working improvements.
Ethics for Corporate Social Responsibility Software houses should subscribe to the widely held belief that corporate social responsibility is held by the "triple bottom line" for all companies – that is, the economic, social, and environmental impacts generated.
The economic bottom line is self-explanatory while the social dimension consists of the impacts on multiple stakeholders such as employees, customers, suppliers, and the broader community. The third dimension, the environmental dimension, recognises the impact of business on the natural environment. Socially Responsible Investors Shareholders are a particularly important stakeholder group. Socially responsible investors are those who make clear their care for both the financial and the social bottom line of a business.
Socially responsible investors insist that their investments meet ethical as well as financial criteria. They “put their cash where their conscience is.” Shareholders’ interests are rightly interconnected with employee, customer and community interests. Business software systems have created excellent means by which to comprehend the interconnectedness of resources and opportunities for insightful and knowledge-based decisions and actions in business.
Human conflicts, frustrations and hardships consume our social and personal energy. Little is left available for us to tackle large environmental challenges. Some even argue that only a reasonably contented population becomes sufficiently concerned with longer-term stability.
Changes in the workplace and prosperity would therefore affect environmental issues as well. With wider prosperity we would find the emotional and financial determination to prioritise a sustainable environment for ourselves, our children and beyond.
Up until then, IT helps in other environmentally relevant ways too. Computer models are already invaluable, for example, in revealing insights into the structure of the universe, weather patterns, the reactions of chemical elements and daily forecasting company data and resources.
Computer models will soon be capable of showing the vastly important consequences of climate-change, and of social and economic changes.
Bottom lines are indeed our key metric. But we’ve also found that people engage with inspiring extra energy when they glimpse the ideals of IT.
Employees, and increasingly investors, demand more connection between ideals and practicality.
Everybody in business has to weigh the importance of idealism, even if they prefer to focus only on practicality. Certain ideals are well worth investment of time and money.