The Fashionable and Profitable Business of Purpose

The Fashionable and Profitable Business of Purpose

January 7, 2020

Oracle Head of Applications Singapore Levent Tavsanci shares a few case studies on how Not-for-Profit organisations coupled purpose, with data insights, to bring good intentions to fruition. 

By Levent Tavsanci

Over the past few years, having a purpose behind every business has become increasingly fashionable. Many studies have shown that having a purpose leads to greater business success in consumer-driven economies. A Cone and Porter Novelli survey shows that 80% of consumers claim to be more loyal to purpose-driven brands, while according to Deloitte, companies driven by purpose have 30% higher levels of innovation.

Armed with these insights and knowledge, it is no surprise that as we enter 2020, many businesses have or will be jumping on the bandwagon to position purpose at the heart of what they do. In a survey by PwC, 79% of business leaders shared that they believe an organization’s purpose is central to business success, and yet 68% shared that purpose is not used as a guidepost in leadership decision-making processes within their organization.

So what’s the disconnect? It all boils down to the outcome, and proving what the real impact is.

While many organizations recognize the need to lead with purpose, not many are able to successfully move beyond just having a mission statement and executing a purpose that strongly aligns to the raison d’être of their business. As a result, to anyone outside of the organization, it may seem that such businesses are only doing lip service and are not serious about being purpose-led.

The blueprint

To be a truly successful purpose-driven organization, companies should recognize that beyond having an authentic purpose that aligns with the business, they also need a solid roadmap to execute its vision and have the right resources in place to execute the roadmap. This includes having the right people, ecosystem and tools in place to support its mission in delivering positive impact to its communities.

A great example of an organization that has been able to execute its mission successfully is Industries for the Blind and Visually Impaired (IBVI), a company that sells products in part under a US Government program called AbilityOne, which seeks to create jobs for people with disabilities. IBVI’s ultimate measure of success is job creation for the blind and visually impaired in the US.

More than seven million US adults are blind or visually impaired and an estimated 70% of them are not employed full-time. IBVI has traditionally employed blind workers in manufacturing and assembly work, creating tools and supplies for the U.S. military. To further deliver on its mission and create more job opportunities for its blind workers outside of the factory – in finance, human resources and customer service – IBVI needed to make its information systems more accessible.

To deliver on its mission, IBVI tapped into cloud technologies and moved from a homegrown system with limited accessibility to the full suite of Oracle Cloud Applications for functions including financials, supply chain, product configurations, human resources, and customer experience. The company chose Oracle Cloud Applications because of the accessibility features of its integrated platform, and compatibility with tools such as JAWS (text-to-speech screen reader), ZoomText (magnification) and Braille keyboards.

The decision enabled IBVI to move workers from the factory floor into office jobs, and has created new career opportunities for its blind community. For example, Sandra Teague-Martin had worked in real estate before losing her sight. The new technology has enabled her to build a new career in customer service, where she uses text-to-speech and ZoomText to enter, track, and monitor orders and inventory. Now, all but one of IBVI’s customer service team are blind.

For employees like Teague-Martin, learning Oracle Cloud Applications has also enabled her to think of a career beyond IBVI, using the skills she’s learned to be successful in other private sector organizations that use Oracle apps.

Improving access to information with the right tools has enabled IBVI to significantly improve on its mission. It has not only extended new job opportunities for blind employees in its business, but is also making IBVI workers more employable with other organizations.

Using insights to give back

In the era of digital and big data, organizations have an added advantage to leverage insights they can gain from digital technologies to make smarter decisions that enable them to be operationally more efficient and productive. Whether its solutions or tools to support their front-end or back-end operations, data generated from cloud solutions can provide businesses with a connected, real-time view of their business, taking the guessing game out of the picture. This is important especially for organizations that have lean resources and budgets but still have to deliver sustainable impact on the communities they target as a key performance indicator.

The Salvation Army Singapore Malaysia Myanmar (SMM) Territory serves underprivileged communities in Singapore, Malaysia and Myanmar. Its diverse range of social programmes reaches out to children who need care and protection, families in material need, ailing aged requiring quality nursing care and other needy segments in society.

Recognizing the limitations that it faces when it comes to resources and manpower, and that it still has a strong mandate to care for the weak and the marginalised without discrimination, regardless of age, race or religion, The Salvation Army SMM Territory turns to Oracle Cloud applications to provide its teams with real-time insights that will enable them to be more operationally efficient.

The Salvation Army SMM Territory has embarked on a project to migrate its data to Oracle Cloud. On the back-end, it has transformed its finance operations with Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) Cloud, while leveraging Oracle Human Capital Management (HCM) Cloud to automate and transform its HR operations. On the front-end, it has adopted Oracle Customer Experience (CX) Cloud to actively engage and help their beneficiaries.

With greater operational efficiency, The Salvation Army SMM Territory hopes to be able to empower its staff in field offices as they strive forth in their mission to deliver social services to various communities in need.

Businesses can not afford to rest on their laurels, and the same applies for any purpose-led business or non-profit, charitable organization. There are constant pressures to do more while having to reconcile with limited resources.  Organizations that recognize the importance of a strategic and actionable roadmap, coupled with having the right technologies in place to support their purpose and mission, will be the ones who rise to the occasion and deliver real impact to their communities.

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