Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway –a multinational conglomerate owner of GEICO, Dairy Queen, Fruit of the Loom, etc.- and JPMorgan Chase –the largest bank in the United States and a global giant,announced that they will join forces to give their employees Social Security in the United States (of course amid a critical political climate due to this issue).
On the other hand, the co- founder and director of Google engineering is putting his efforts into a research center in which more than 1 billion dollars will be invested in order to study ways to reach immortality.
What do these two events have in common? Why are they interesting?
Simple; 1 because they are private companies that are doing work which in theory should be done by the government and 2) because they are highly innovative models that go way beyond their core, or of simply launching a new product, they also affect the wellbeing of thousands of people.
Some months ago we spoke here sof the sorry state of social health in Mexico, and of how if we don´t get involved in demanding a change, things will continue to deteriorate. But who should take the first step? The private industry sector, the public institutions?
Nowadays in modern societies, the figures who were previously ideological referents and conductors of social order (church and state) have gradually lost their validity and credibility, and that place is beginning to be occupied by private companies and industries with private capital that challenge pre-established models. Economists point out that in the last decades the same thing is occurring all over the world: the capital from the private sector is growing while the public sector debt is increasing.
Examples, there are many: From taxis to Uber; from being able to park on the streets to everything being operated by a private parking company ; from having traffic police to having a private company issue (and collect) the fines in Mexico City via security cameras. Beyond its governmental implications, it is interesting to analyze the model:
Needs > White space > Opportunity creation > Innovation of the design
Without it mattering whether it “affects” us or not… if we can offer a solution (and no one else is doing it effectively. Is it valid to set it in motion? Even if we are helping to increase corruption levels because public money is diverted towards other places?
Aboard the tendency of mixing categories, Amazon is the King. A Pioneer of online book sales, it is increasingly involved in more industries which are very distant from its original core: health, ticket sales, concert organizing, brick and mortar stores… you name it. It is clearly one of the most risk taking companies, placing it as the 4th most valuable corporation in the world. And its flexibility is exactly what gives it the credibility to propose an improved non- profit health system with its own medical research, which will help to control aspects of preventive medicine (creating labor incentives if you check your glucose or cholesterol via app, or if you do exercise, if you have pre-natal check-ups, etc.), that will improve overall employee satisfaction in an environment in which these services have tripled their prices since 1999 in the United States (1). The experts believe that if it is successful this model will probably expand to new companies.
Meanwhile Google, a technological company that started out as a simple on line search engine, is currently not only the no.1 big data supplier, but it is also responsible for conducting research on immortality at a worldwide level. Calico-Californis Life Company- will be dedicated to doing research focused on understanding why and how we age with the purpose of “extinguishing old age” (2) as well as creating “nano-bots” which navigate the human body and by 2045 will end diseases forever(3).
An interesting question to ask ourselves is why are companies in other fields choosing to innovate from a more social place? It would seem like their involvement in solving the world´s pressing issues, is the path for finding a true way of transcending as companies. Innovating in your own field isn´t enough anymore, and an interesting answer is reinvesting resources to contribute to the common good.
Is there something that your company could be doing, although it may sound counter intuitive at first , but in the long run could be beneficial for thousands?