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Displaying articles for: September 2011

The Guardian live chat: HP discusses how technology can advance social innovation

Paul Ellingstad, director of global health for HP’s Office of Social Innovation, recently joined a live blogging debate on how companies can apply their technological advances to enable positive social and environmental change, which was hosted by The Guardian newspaper.

With a panel of futurists, corporate social responsibility executives and media, Ellingstad discussed how emerging markets are innovating through technology and the role that technology plays in social innovation and global health initiatives, such as HP’s collaboration with the Clinton Health Access Initiative to improve the process for diagnosing and treating infants with HIV. He also emphasized the importance of public-private partnerships with NGOs in developing countries and the need for efficient governance and processes to ensure that social innovation programs are effectively executed.

The full transcript of the discussion is available on The Guardian UK website in the comments section of the article “How can technology effect social and environmental change?”

HP’s Gabi Zedlmayer discusses innovation and international development at Washington, D.C. panel

On Friday September 23, Gabi Zedlmayer, vice president of Global and Social Innovation at HP, and Dr. Alex Dehgan, Science and Technology Adviser to the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), participated in a panel on technology and innovation hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Daniel Runde, Director of the Project on Prosperity and Development at CSIS, moderated the discussion regarding technology and how it can be used to empower societies around the world and enhance international development. Listen to audio from the event here.


Zedlmayer and Dehgan opened the panel discussion by outlining three key operating principles and how they are manifested in their respective private and public sector roles.


Science and technology are key to prosperity. While most Americans enjoy unprecedented access to information, many in the global community lack access to basic necessities like health care. “We must look at this challenge as an opportunity,” urged Dehgan.


Zedlmayer explained how HP has “seized the opportunity” to apply innovation in a way that enriches communities, and she referenced HP’s work with the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) to significantly reduce the turnaround time from 2-3 months to just under 21 days for infant HIV test results in Kenya as a key example of HP’s work in this area.  

The turnaround time for test results is especially critical, as infants diagnosed with HIV must begin anti-retroviral treatment as quickly as possible to ensure survival. Without immediate treatment, half of HIV-positive infants are unlikely to survive past age two.


Take a look at some of HP's other social initiatives in Africa

Social development transcends politics and ideology. It’s global. Zedlmayer mentioned HP’s innovation work, with mPedigree in Ghana and Nigeria, that provides people in the developing world with a way to ensure their medication is authentic by using an application on their mobile phone, thus saving innocent lives from potentially hazardous counterfeit drugs. “This technology only works when the ecosystem works,” Zedlmayer said. “And we are all part of the ecosystem.” Zedlmayer encouraged that those in the “ecosystem,” which consists of government agencies, private corporations, NGO’s and individuals, work together to improve global social issues.


The two panelists addressed the importance of leveraging partnerships among the public and private sector, as well as within the global community. “The threat we face is bigger than any one agency or even country,” warned Dr. Dehgan.


Further emphasizing the importance of cross-sector alliances, Dr. Dehgan spoke of USAID’s existing partnerships with HP and expressed an interest “to do many more.”


Talent and creative ability are everywhere. We must unleash it. As part of enhancing HP’s impact on the global community, Zedlmayer has reached out to HP’s community of more than 320,000 employees worldwide to harness their many skills and talents. For example, HP’s entrepreneurship program, which according to Zedlmayer has placed thousands of jobs, operates in 47 countries and is offered in 20 different languages.


Both Zedlmayer and Dehgan expressed the need to expand the partnership between the private and public sector in order to make a visible impact in the developing world, but acknowledged that regulatory hurdles remain.


That’s not to say significant progress hasn’t been made, Zedlmayer explained. At the time of HP’s founding 70 years ago, it stood out as a unique model of a company that sought not only to enhance shareholder value, but to also cultivate social value. Today, Zedlmayer is happy to report, this model is far more prevalent among large private sector corporations.


Hear more from the panelists: 

Swayed by friends or the crowd? New insight into how social media changes decisions

Imagine you’re planning to book a hotel room at the Hotel Canal Grande in Venice, Italy.  Before you make a reservation, you’ll probably visit an online ratings site like Trip Advisor to see how many stars previous guests give the hotel.  You might also ask your Facebook friends to see if they have an opinion, too.


Which source is more likely to influence your decision, the user-generated ratings site or your friends?


HP Labs today published a new study answering this very question, following up other recent research on how social influence influences decision-making.  In their new experiment “Swayed by Friends or by the Crowd?”, HP researchers discovered:


- For a user deciding between two choices, an additional rating star has a much larger effect than an additional friend’s recommendation on the probability of selecting an item.

- Negative opinions from friends are more influential than positive opinions.

- People exhibit more random behavior in their choices when the decision involves less cost and risk.


The study validates the intuition that negative reviews from customers are more powerful than positive ones, adding a new dimension to the adage that “satisfied customers tell three friends, angry customers tell 3,000.”


It also suggests that enabling positive and negative feedback to flow equally through online social networks is a potentially powerful feature for users communicating the value of goods and services to each other.


Read the full research report here [PDF] or below.

Swayed by Friends or by the Crowd?

HP and Employees Contribute more than $300,000 to Support Famine Relief Operations in Somalia

The United Nations announced this month that the famine in Somalia, which has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people over the last four months, has spread to a sixth area within the country. Officials warn that unless aid efforts are increased, up to 750,000 people could die. To compound matters, the famine is giving rise to diseases such as measles, putting millions of Somalian children at risk.

Somalia relief small.jpgTo aid famine relief efforts in the hardest hit regions of Southern Somalia, HP has contributed $150,000 to Doctors Without Borders and Save the Children. This contribution will help the relief efforts of both organizations, who are working in close coordination with each other, local and international NGOs as well as local governments in Southern Somalia and East Africa to meet the health, medical, nutritional, and safety needs of the people.

HP employees also pledged more than $75,260 to East African famine relief operations through the company’s giving campaign, which was matched dollar-for-dollar by the HP Company Foundation.

This contribution is another example of HP’s long-standing history of helping people in need in communities around the world, and a testament to the company’s commitment to supporting the extraordinary work of the relief organizations on the African continent  helping during the worst drought in decades.

Photo by Brendan Bannon, Doctors Without Borders.

Innovation and Policy: An Interview with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)

Elected in 2010, Senator Rob Portman is a widely respected voice in the U.S. Senate on trade and budget issues. The Cincinnati native was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1993 and represented the second Congressional district of Ohio until 2005, when he was appointed United States Trade Representative. In that role, he oversaw global trade negotiations and successfully advocated for reducing barriers to U.S. exports. He later served as the director of the Office of Management and Budget for President George W. Bush.



He serves on the Senate Committees on the Budget; Armed Services; Energy and Natural Resources; and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.


HP interviewed Sen. Portman to seek his views on the technology sector’s role in the economy and the importance of global free trade.


HP: What role do you see the tech sector playing in driving innovation and speeding the nation’s recovery?

Sen. Portman: The U.S. has an innovative, entrepreneurial economy and technology is one of our key strengths. In Ohio, for example, while we are predominantly an agricultural and industrial state, our farmers and manufacturers are increasing efficiency by integrating technology into their farming and manufacturing practices. With the use of technology and automation, farmers are able to enhance their harvest. Technology helps to make this possible.


Technology and efficiencies help to drive competitiveness, leading to growth, which brings with it high-skilled, high-paying jobs. This has always been a key strength in the U.S., and it always will be. Regarding trade, we have a competitive, comparative advantage in technology and innovation. We want to open up markets, to provide a level playing field, allowing our companies to grow.


HP: How do you think we should go about strengthening young people’s interest in getting into science, technology and math-related fields and pursuing careers in the high-tech sector?

Sen. Portman: The private sector has an essential role in getting young people interested in math and science. It’s important that the private sector stays involved, supporting internships, schools, science fairs and other educational initiatives. I’ve seen many positive examples of this from private companies, like Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) related stipends for teachers. It’s also important to continue to encourage women to join math and science fields.


We are competing with many countries in the STEM area including China and India; however, the U.S. educational system has a unique approach to encouraging and fostering combination of science and math-related core skills with analytical thinking and entrepreneurial “outside of the box” thinking. We can build on that.


HP: What are the greatest challenges facing the technology sector in Washington today?

Sen. Portman: Frankly, I’d say there are three. First, increased exports, because we have a competitive advantage with our technology sector, and through free trade we can open markets for our technology and IT services. America has been falling behind in terms of trade. We need to export more. 


Second is creating a business climate for technology companies to succeed. Right now our corporate tax rate is among the highest for industrialized countries. We have a real problem when it comes to our tax policy, and I think it ought to be reformed entirely in a way that creates more economic activity and therefore more revenue for America. By making the tax code more business friendly and more jobs friendly, we can encourage investment in America.


And finally the topic of the day in Washington – the debt limit. Right now our debt and deficit are at historic levels. Companies across the spectrum, not just technology companies, are not investing as they should be in jobs in part because of the great uncertainty created by Washington not getting its act together. We’re going have to deal with this growing imbalance between our spending and revenues. These are just some of the issues we need to address.


Hear more from Senator Portman on free trade: 


Innovation and Policy: An Interview with Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO)

Senator Michael Bennet was appointed to the U.S. Senate in January 2009, then re-elected in 2010, where he’s been a strong proponent of alternative energy, economic growth, educational incentives and agricultural prosperity.


Bennet was previously the superintendent of the Denver public school system, and he helped advise President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign on educational issues. In 2011, Time magazine listed him among the nation’s 11 leading educational activists. He believes school reform is necessary for our nation to remain economically strong.


Bennet supports comprehensive immigration reform as a way to attract foreign-born entrepreneurs to the U.S., enhancing the nation’s economic growth. He promotes reforms to benefit small businesses and investment in our domestic energy economy with a focus on wind, solar power and natural gas. Bennet has also taken a leading role in seeking a bipartisan and comprehensive approach to deficit reduction that includes changes to entitlements, tax reform and discretionary spending cuts.


He is the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry and Natural Resources. He also serves on the Senate Committees on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Health Education, Labor and Pensions; and the Special Committee on Aging.


HP interviewed Sen. Bennet to discuss the technology industry’s role in economic recovery, as well as critical priorities facing the industry going forward.


HP: How does innovation help drive America’s economy?

Sen. Bennet: The middle class is under a great deal of pressure. The cost of higher education continues to rise, while there’s more pressure than ever to have and utilize higher education degrees to compete for high-paying jobs. Healthcare costs are skyrocketing, putting daily basic necessities at risk. At the same time, structural unemployment remains epidemic, even as businesses have become more efficient.


In Colorado, the technology sector is vital. The presence of technology opportunities helps inspire job and economic growth, which fuel the innovation economy. Technology is where America can lead in the 21st century.


Comprehensive tax reform is one key to promoting tech growth. We need to be forward-looking, ensuring we have the right platform to create 21st century jobs while supporting entrepreneurs, small-businesses and start-ups. The innovation economy, fueled by companies large and small, will increase America’s competitiveness, helping to get our unemployed back to work.


HP: What do you see as the nation’s critical priorities from a technology standpoint?

Sen. Bennet: Education is a critical priority. When you look at the graduation rates, we’re faced with a dire situation. Let’s put it this way: out of 100 students, only 9 can be reasonably expected to graduate. More than 1.2 million children drop out of high school every year, and 70 percent of our 8th graders can’t read at grade level. This is a big problem, and we need to study every available option to improve the quality of our education, especially as high-paying jobs require more technical expertise.


Regarding immigration, I believe we need to reduce red tape to ensure we can attract foreign-born talent as part of the innovation economy. The high-tech sector has some good ideas to smooth this process and benefit our nation’s growth, and we have the opportunity to align with one another on this issue.


Hear more from Sen. Bennet on education and economic issues here:

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