There are still 4.5 billion people without access to the Internet. Bain & Company, the global management consulting firm, suggests that this represents by far the largest opportunity of the next decade. There is now widespread agreement—along with emerging evidence—that ICTs can help improve quality of life and accelerate development efforts at all levels. It is this fact that forms the foundation of ARM’s new partnership with UNICEF.
UNICEF recognises that nearly every aspect of development—including the meeting of basic needs—can be improved by the application of technology. In other words, technologies hold tremendous potential to solve development challenges. The difficulty is how to design technology to meet these needs, and how to ensure that the deployment of technology doesn’t have other, unintended, affects.
Key to delivering both commercial and social benefits in this context is ensuring that technology is designed to meet a real need. For people who have very little, though some, expendable income the confidence that buying a device will deliver real value to their lives is vital. This means that we have to do a lot more than just make products and services that are ever cheaper. We need to design them to be more relevant, more beneficial, for those 4.5 billion potential new customers.
Through ARM’s new partnership with UNICEF (#tech4good), we intend to work closely together to understand these needs and how to design technology that really meets them. In doing so UNICEF and ARM believe that there is scope for achieving profound social impact whilst also learning about how companies can start serving these communities with sustainable, useful products that people will want to buy.
Over the next year, ARM and UNICEF will be exploring the role of wearable technology through the wearables for good competition (#wearablesforgood) also with Frog Design, start to scale up an existing technology to show what impact can be achieved and commission research to show the size and nature of this largely unserved market for the technology industry. We will be sharing the results of this work and will be working with ARM Partners to ensure we can deliver real value to UNICEF.