A cloud tech and society lunch summit

Cloud platforms running on the world's broadband networks are an enormous enabler of productivity, efficiency and social good on the planet.  

Box.org and five of our #ImpactCloud friends from Salesforce.org, Okta for Good, Splunk>4Good, Twilio.org and DocuSign IMPACT were honored to host a lunch summit with leaders from the Broadband Commission for Digital Development last week at Box HQ in Redwood City, CA. The Broadband Commission is composed of agency heads from top UN agencies and executive leaders from the global telecomm industry. We discussed the importance of getting billions more people online in the most efficient, safe and equitable way in the years to come. Our discussions also revolved around how the assets of fast-growth cloud platform providers in Silicon Valley can be mobilized to benefit emerging nations and their citizens.

Broadband technologies and the cloud platforms running on them are fundamentally transforming the way we work and live better and more securely.  According to our esteemed guests, broadband infrastructure, applications and services offer important opportunities for boosting economic growth, enhancing communications, improving energy efficiency, safeguarding the planet and improving people’s lives.  One of our guests suggested that, "We need to think about inclusion, digital capacity, and connectivity as creating opportunities longer term, not just to solve immediate crisis scenarios."

A cloud tech and society lunch summit

The Broadband Commission for Digital Development was launched by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in response to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call to step up efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Established in May 2010, the Commission unites top industry executives with government leaders, thought leaders and policy pioneers and international agencies and organizations concerned with development. 

During our lunch summit, all five #ImpactCloud members were able to share how their technologies and social impact programs and embedded social enterprises improve organizational outcomes for their customers and partners.  We were all able to share a story or two about how our platforms (individually or together) and programs have been deployed by our NGO, education, government and commercial partners.  Our guests then asked questions and shared details about how our technology, capital, knowledge, influence and buying power could be mobilized and applied to their agency objectives.

Summit topics discussed all aligned closely with the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development’s 2025 Targets, a group of goals that seek to expand broadband infrastructure, and Internet access and use  by populations around the world, in support of achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations:

The commission's seven 2025 targets.  By 2025:

  1. All countries should have a funded national broadband plan or strategy, or include broadband in their universal access and services definition.
  2. Entry level broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries, at less than 2% of monthly gross national income per capita.
  3. Broadband Internet user penetration should reach: a) 75% worldwide; b) 65% in developing countries; c) 35% in least developed countries
  4.  60% of youth and adults should have achieved at least a minimum level of proficiency in sustainable digital skills.
  5. 40% of the world's population should be using digital financial services.
  6. Unconnectedness of Micro, Small and Medium sized Enterprises should be reduced by 50%, by sector.
  7. Gender equality should be achieved across all targets.
A cloud tech and society lunch summit

Before our summit concluded, we all decided that getting specific about a focus area to work on together would be a key first step.  We determined that working on 2025 Target number six would be the best fit for #ImpactCloud and fast-growth Silicon Valley companies overall.  Our inspiring UN and telecom industry guests made it clear that focusing on poverty eradication by enabling female and young entrepreneurs building micro, small and medium sized enterprises in high potential emerging markets like Africa would be our best bet.  One of our guests told us that "coalitions like ours can mobilize to help SME's via trade with our purchasing and investment power."  They were also clear that, "we can pool and share business and technical expertise and technology solutions that help the new generation of connected entrepreneurs leap frog challenges faced by less connected ones."  Finally, they were adamant that we "focus on the needs of women and girls that face a big delta versus men in being connected for business".  

Folks in the room agreed that the intersection of tech and development was a good place for scalable for-benefit business models and embedded social enterprises like Box.org to build their missions and outcomes.  Philanthropy, the group felt, is an appreciated actor in the work, but building positive social impact into the highly scalable core of Silicon Valley business models and including emerging markets and their entrepreneurs was a critical imperative for Silicon Valley's path ahead.  The high energy meeting had parties from both the commission and #ImpactCloud sides of the table thinking with one mind and heart.  We all left the discussion encouraged and excited about the many possibilities we have to work together.  

I'm excited to see what this incredibly enlightening lunch break brings.

Box.org is proud to donate and discount Box for nonprofits at www.box.org.  Many of our #ImpactCloud partners feel the same way.  See their websites for more info.