The Impact of Your Technology

Sheryle Gillihan, CEO of CauseLabs

Closed Caption Transcript:

We live in a digital world
sometimes I love it, the connections,

the fun, the functionality, the discovery
and infinite knowledge at my fingertips.

It wasn't always like
that when I was growing up.

But other times I'm frustrated, upset,
jaded, mistrusting and fearful.

And quite frankly, I'm disappointed.

Feel like we can do better.

Just over five years ago,

halfway through my tenure at CauseLabs
and just after a rebrand,

I recorded a conversation
that I had with my team.

We were describing what
we do at our agency.

At one point, we were striking through
words on the board and I said,

"I don't like the word reach."

It's not enough to reach people with
technology, to have them download the app.

If we want to end poverty,

if we want to make a difference
in the world,

we have to make an impact on their lives
and that's more than just reaching them.

Over the past 10 years,

CauseLabs has achieved many milestones.

We have certifications and awards

and over 100 client projects
with well-known global organizations.

It's been an incredible journey.

In 2015, not long before this 
conversation that I had with my team

about the words we
would use to describe our work,

we had exceeded our goal of

reaching over 250 million people
through our web and mobile apps.

Two hundred and fifty million.

That's no small feat.

It was definitely something to celebrate
and something we were excited about.

But yet, notice I used the word reach.

What matters to me is how 
we align with our mission.

That tells a different story that 
numbers alone can't quite capture.

It goes beyond reach.

Beyond mere statistics.

It's beyond downloading the app.

When I talk about 
the impact of technology,

it's easier to lead with large,
big aggregate numbers.

To be quantitative,
especially as they grow year after year.

They're impressive.

Those numbers
alone usually have a wow factor.

People get excited about them.

But the impact of our technology,

the impact of your technology
is individual.

It's personal and it's
never about the tech.

It's about the human story
that evolves around it.

For me, it was watching elders 
excited to pass on their native language

to the younger children.

Watching a girl find her
voice for storytelling.

Through an app that we
created in a Lab Day.

And we've been able to serve an entire
state with child care resources recently.

Really understanding that providers,

parents and state agencies all
have different needs and goals.

We've watched a community form around
solving global challenges.

More than one, in fact.

We've worked with so many
amazing communities around the world.

And through that,
we've uncovered our own experiences

with poverty, and that's been
amazing unto itself.

We see teachers spend more time with their
students because we've automated planning

and grouping and delivering
their curriculum digitally.

We've seen toilets and hand washing
stations installed in rural provinces.

I love hearing testimonials from students
who were accepted into college,

perhaps being the first
generation in their family.


The impact of our technology is knowing

that we've saved teams countless hours
and provided accurate data for important

real time decisions
and knowing that our clients can continue

delivering their programs
in the midst of this pandemic.

The impact of technology...

is immeasurable at times.

It's rooted in empathy and strategies

that build upon how our people
actually use the tools.

We are constantly growing and learning.

We as people, as communities 
and the ecosystem that surrounds us

are constantly evolving with the programs
and technologies available to us.

The impact of your program,

of your business.

The impact of your
technology is multifaceted.

It's what you build, who you build it for,

how you build it,
and potentially how environmentally or

economically or socially
sustainable that program is.

It's also who you choose to build it with.

Every time you invest your dollars

into building or using a new technology,

you are investing into a company.

And that company is investing
potentially into your community.

How are they reinvesting your dollars?

Is it creating the type 
of products or jobs

or social and environmental 
impact that you want?

Does it align with your values?

Do they take responsibility
for their impact on the world?

Technology holds so many
life changing benefits.

It's an accelerator. It's a disrupter.

It can delight or it can cause despair.

It can offer access and create equity,

or it can perpetuate
disconnection and disparities.

We have a responsibility to know
the impact of our technology.

We have the ability to use the Web
to create positive impact.

The web that I want to build

is the web that builds the change 
we want to see in the world.