Social Solutions Learn how to correctly analyse this topic.

Sarah Simon

15 min Read Time | June 28th 2022

Key takeaways

1

The topic deals with the impact of a company’s products and/or services that allow individuals and other businesses to benefit from social solutions.

2

The range of solutions includes those addressing issues related to health care, productivity, farming, communication, smart cities and communities, and others.

3

To consider only the direct and intended impact of the products and/or services offered by the company (not the indirect impact).

Analyses must be written from a positive angle.

Executive Summary

Today, many companies are working to provide solutions to prevalent social issues.

The focus should be on providing an innovative and impactful solution to major social issues, through access to products and services that improve the human quality of life, at the levels of individuals, businesses, and society.

The analysis should be comprehensive and mention all social solutions that have a significant impact. To be significant, it must be widely used, and to avoid remediation, it should be considered 'game-changing'. In other words, to a certain extent, it should have revolutionized the sector. 

The topic aims to address solutions offered by companies that can be considered pioneers or trendsetters in their industries or companies that are players in incredibly impactful sectors where only a handful of competitors offer similar products/services. Therefore, the solutions must not be considered standard practices in the market.

The analysis must assess the final impact of the products and services in the form of solutions.

SDG poster UN emblem PRINT 2020

SDG Choice

What is it?

As we live in an era of inequality amongst people and regions of the planet, many SDGs aim to address pervasive social issues of different natures.

Some of the most urgent challenges we have as a society nowadays include poverty, hunger, lack of healthcare access, sanitation, economic opportunities, violence and safety, housing, mobility, productivity, and others.

Source:

https://online.yu.edu/wurzweiler/blog/2020-biggest-social-justice-issues

General Impact assessment

To measure how a product or service offered by a company is providing a social solution depends on which type of solution(s). The guide is, therefore, broken down by different types of environmental solutions.

No matter the industry, all analyses treating this topic should consider the following points:

1/ In your analysis, start by describing the product(s): the what, how much, and the who, following the IMP framework.

Then, describe the impact by linking studies on this product and its widespread impact, comparing with competitors or the industry average, when relevant.

2/ You must mention the direct and intended impact of the product or service and measure how significant it is.

You can also use studies as proxies.

Learn more in the article Step 5: Assess scale and value.


3/ This topic is highly interlinked with Digital Social Solutions (that can be included in this high-level topic).


4/ The introduction should provide background information about the social solutions that are being discussed. It should include general background information on why the social type is important in the current world and for society at large.

Studies can be used to provide further context in relation to the social impacts involved.

Read more on how to build a strong introduction in this article.

5/ Make sure to be comprehensive. Assess whether there are multiple social solutions provided by the company: healthcare, communication, smart and sustainable cities, safety, productivity, and other solutions.

The analysis should be comprehensive and mention all social solutions that have a significant impact. To be significant, it must be widely used, and to avoid remediation, it should be considered 'game-changing'.

In other words, to a certain extent, it should have revolutionised the industry. The topic aims to address solutions offered by companies that can be considered pioneers or trendsetters in their industries or companies that are players in incredibly impactful sectors where only a handful of competitors offer similar products/services. Therefore, the solutions must not be considered standard practices in the market.

6/ Make sure to describe the scale of the impact by taking into account:

6.1 The breadth of the impact

  • Is the impact local, national, or global?

  • How many people are concerned? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands?

6.2 The depth of the impact

  • Is the life of people concerned deeply affected, or does the issue just marginally impact them?

  • Are the changes brought by the issue profoundly changing society or the planet?

6.2 The persistence of the impact

  • How long would the impact described last for? Months? Years? Decades?

  • How reversible is the impact described in the impact analysis? Can it be easily stopped/extended?

7/ The analysis should remain critical and nuanced. What are the downsides and/or limitations?

To make sure to avoid greenwashing, check out our article Golden Rule #4: Go beyond Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

In your analysis, make sure you add value to your readers and go beyond the company’s CSR report by not merely reporting data from the company’s report but going the extra mile of providing additional metrics, studies, and sources to make your analysis robust and the impact value and scale are clear.

Core Analysis

To discuss:

  • What issue is being tackled and how

  • How this is providing a solution to societies, increasing people and communities' well-being and prosperity

  • How many people have benefitted from these solutions and where (scale)

  • The depth and persistence of the impact

Not to discuss:

  • Peripheral philanthropic activities (unrelated to core business activities)

  • Donations

Caution: Make sure the solution does not overlap with the Core Business notes.


*Threshold: products that impact more than 10,000 people are considered significant.

Below you will find a breakdown of different solutions that companies can provide. Make sure to be comprehensive if a company is providing more than one solution all having a significant impact.

Industry-Specific Social Solutions Examples

Auto Parts

This can be done by providing safety solutions for pedestrians and other vehicles on the road, smart mobility, and others.

Examples include, but are not limited to, seatbelts, airbags, steering wheels, and pedestrian protection systems. This is a solution for other individuals (not about how safe their parts are compared to competitors).

Points to consider:

  • Avoid discussing safety measures that have become standard practice for many manufacturers. 
  • Include statistics to show how much the company's technology has improved safety. 
  • Has it been proven that these parts are less present in roadside accidents? 
  • How do we know that they are actually safer and have made a significant difference?

Key example: Nokian Renkaat offers its tire scanning services SnapSkan for all vehicles at absolutely no cost

Solution type: "To provide safety to the drivers, the company, in 2016, came with a digital scan service, SnapSkan, that scans the condition of the tires of a vehicle and gives the report to the driver."

Game-changer: "The technology is the first of its kind in the world..."

Significant impact: "Of the total people interviewed by the company (absolute no. not given), 70% stated that they believe it has enhanced road safety6.

As per the latest data available, SnapSkan has completed over 1 Mn scans, thus, at least ensuring the safety of 1 Mn people (drivers)4."

Professional & Commercial Services

Some examples include but are not limited to healthcare, farming, sustainable communities, access to financial services and inclusion, etc.

Key example: Experian promotes financial inclusion by helping 4.5 million people boost their credit scores

Solution type: "For boosting scores, the solution takes payment records from customers’ bank statements5."

Game-changer: "it introduced Experian Boost, an innovative financial solution that allows customers to boost their credit scores by adding on-time payments for things such as utility, telecom bills, and some streaming services5."

Significant impact: "The solution’s results show that 87% of people in the “very poor” band (<5507) saw an increase in their scores5. Likewise, people in the “fair” band (<6037) who got a boost was 63%5. By March 2021, 4.5M people in the US had been able to improve their credit score4;p39."

Comprehensive of all social solutions: "In 2020, it launched Experian Lift, which provides insights to lenders for scoring & verifying vulnerable credit invisible customers10.

In Jan 20229, “Experian Go” was launched, which focuses more on people under credit invisibility and guides them to build their credit score8;p55."

Industrial Machinery & Goods

Industrial-level solutions examples include but are not limited to healthcare, safety, farming, sustainable communities, smart cities, etc.

Key example: Andritz technologies partnered with Novo Nordisk to deliver diabetes treatment

Solution type: "The company has declared that they have provided a very high-level technology to Novo Nordisk, which produces insulin5."

Game-changer: "This is a step forward because the technology transitioned the production from being a semi-manual to an automated, closed, and perpetual process, hence significantly increasing the efficiency compared to before with other filtration technologies5."

Significant impact: "In 2020, 32.8 million people used its diabetes products in 76 countries7;p8-9, 3.2 million of which were treated with low price insulin in low and middle-income countries7;p15.

Electrical & Electronic Equipment

Some examples include but are not limited to: healthcare, farming, sustainable communities, etc.

Key example: Prysmian solutions have increased user safety by detecting electrical faults in over 50 countries

Solution type: "The technology allows for online, real-time measurements, diagnosis, and defect detection of electrical installation from 3kV to 600kV2;p4,5."

Game-changer: "The company has developed a groundbreaking monitoring system, the PRY-CAM, that monitors, assess conditions, and manages electrical systems to prevent failures, and interruptions to increase safety, reduce maintenance costs, and extend asset longevity2;p2."

Significant impact: "Globally, over 30,000 spot measurements of the partial discharges on cable joints have been done to over 40 recurring corporate customers2;p6,4;p15."

Comprehensive of all social solutions: "Prysmian has also developed ALESEA, an IoT solution for the management of drums and electrical cables to detect potential cable theft and tampering that improves operation efficiency10."

Home Builders

Some examples include but are not limited to earthquake-proof (and other natural disasters) real estate, adapted to climate change (avoiding having climate refugees & losing homes), adapted for disabled persons, etc.

Agricultural Products

Some examples include but are not limited to solutions for health and nutrition, farming, livestock (alternative dietary products), etc.

Engineering & Construction

Some examples include but are not limited to sustainable urban development, ultimately improving cities’ mobility, social inclusion, and economic development.

Semiconductors

Semiconductors are ubiquitous and used for many different purposes and ultimately enhance productivity, acting as engineers providing solutions on all grounds. Innovations in the semiconductors industry include but are not limited to driving advances in new technologies for the digitised era, ultimately enabling advances in communications, computing, healthcare, military systems, smart and connected cities, safer transportation, and countless other applications.

This topic aims to capture the company's greatest advancements that have had the most significant impact in specific industries.

Key example: Georg Fischer has improved the hygiene standards of drinking water through its Hycleen system

Solution type: "The Hycleen Automation System decreases the presence of bacteria in potable water by offering a permanent hydraulic balance of the hot water throughout the pipes at a temperature of +55°C1. This creates a virtually sterile environment that prevents legionella bacteria contamination (common in temperatures from 25°C to 50°C)1."

Game-changer: "In 2018, the company introduced the first-ever automated balancing and flushing solution, making important improvements in water safety and hygiene in complex buildings' plumbing1,2.

This solution received an honorable mention in the 2022 Engineer's Choice Awards as an innovative product7."

Significant impact: "The system was installed in 33 buildings in Germany (including a 7,500 apartments housing cooperative6;p2) and Turkey, expanding to Switzerland, other European countries, Australia, India, and the USA1."

Comprehensive of all social solutions: "Prysmian has also developed ALESEA, an IoT solution for the management of drums and electrical cables to detect potential cable theft and tampering that improves operation efficiency10.

The company also provides solutions such as Cool-Fit for building cooling and Hakan Aerator for sewage system pressure balancing9."

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