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Harnessing tech for good

by jcp

By Andrew Wilkins, Co-Founder and CEO of Futr 

Technology has been vital in helping communities and businesses survive Covid-19. Tech for good has become one of the prevailing trends of the 2020s, where we have tackled the impact of a global pandemic, survived multiple huge political changes and seen a growing movement towards greater social responsibility. These have resulted in a growing demand for technology that can be harnessed for good.

We have before us an incredible opportunity to use our expertise to make the world a better place.

What does tech for good really mean?

Using tech for good broadly means companies using their tech to deliver a positive impact on our world. In simple terms, it’s the use of technology to effect a deliberate and positive social benefit.

The digital world has been a daily reality for over two decades, and in that time, our approach to digital potential has changed. Initially functional, then social, and now educational – we are now entering the next phase. Closely linked to Web 3.0 and the metaverse, tech for good is about using the incredible knowledge and power we have amassed in two decades of learning and putting it to fundamentally good use.

Tech for good in practice

There are many examples of tech for good being used in practice. From projects tackling climate change to social inequalities, businesses are developing new approaches all the time. At Futr – the AI startup I founded with my business partner Lee Skyrme – we do a lot of work with public sector organisations and charities to help them reach more people in a world with fewer barriers.

Access is everything. We all need to access support services, and we shouldn’t be stopped from doing so by the language we speak, the device we have to hand, or the only time that we’re free.  Our multilingual, multi-channel chatbots are a good example of this. Offering fluent conversations in over 100 languages on channels like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, and more is helping to bring non-native language speaking communities into the conversation and making information and processes accessible to them – sometimes for the first time.

We began working with CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) in the first year of the pandemic, installing our SaaS chatbot on its website to help the charity handle an increased volume of enquiries. CALM has open phone lines and live chat available each evening, but before we joined as a service, this was the only time of day users could engage with the charity. Now, CALM can offer 24/7 online support, including a range of services like signposting, FAQ, pre-chat fact find questionnaires and post-chat satisfaction surveys.

Even during live agent hours, by offering the ability for users to self-serve, CALM recorded a 73% reduction in queue time. Those who found what they were looking for voluntarily dropped off, and those with more complex issues, or a real need to speak to a human agent, were seamlessly triaged through to an expert.

Taking a development centred approach

Tech for good is not a slogan, and businesses seeking to invest in their capabilities must be dedicated to finding a genuine and useful solution. When we launched Futr, we knew there was scope for our technology to help the general public, but we needed to find our niche and not get caught in the trap of so many start-ups – trying to be everything to everyone.

Over time, we recognised the scope for focussing our work and invested in platform development and insight to create a SaaS product that could offer immediate impact and truly help improve people’s lives – even if only in a small way.

Our platform, built as a series of microservices, allows our customers to instantly deploy best-in-class solutions. This translates into instant service for those who need it, on their own terms and more time for stretched service teams to serve those who need the most help. With all interactions tracked anonymously and with a range of analytics and data points to hand, our customers can truly understand and analyse their changing user demand, not to mention track their return on investment.

We aim to reach a place where a service like ours can be accessible to all those who need it without the associated significant financial outlay.

The early 2020s have thrown us some incredible challenges, but they’ve also presented enormous opportunities. Technology is helping to break down barriers and improve access to services and knowledge. Businesses that are making a positive social impact can use technology to reach more people around the world with fewer barriers. Ultimately, tech for good is about democratising access.  It’s now up to us as tech firms to grasp the potential to help create a better world.

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