An Agent for Change

An Agent of Change

On Wednesday, iProspect and Ashoka discussed their commitment towards creating a digital economy that works for all during the panel discussion “An Agent of Change” hosted at the Dentsu Aegis Network Beachhouse at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.  


Panelists Joanna Catalano (CEO, iProspect - Asia Pacific), Tristram Stuart (Ashoka Fellow and Founder of Feedback Global & Toast Ale), and Arnaud Mourot (Global VP-Strategic Corporate Alliances, Ashoka Europe) spoke with moderator Paula Taylor (Global Development Director, D&AD) on the efforts both organizations are independently driving, as well as the practical application of leveraging ‘technology for good.’


Kicking off the discussion, Joanna presented key findings from the Digital Society Index – a study conducted by Dentsu Aegis Network earlier this year which ranks countries in terms of how well they are building a digital economy that works for all in society. The report analyses the performance of ten economies across three key dimensions: dynamism, inclusion and trust.  


Key challenges uncovered by the report were: 

  • 50% of those surveyed feel the pace of change is too fast
  • 43% believe technology has made society more unequal
  • 55% believe not enough is being done to ensure digital benefits everyone living in these countries


Stressing the potential of the tech, media and advertising industries to be among the world’s most powerful influencers to positively address these concerns, Joanna highlighted iProspect’s key focus:


“Our anchor is trust; trust on three levels.  The first is trust with our clients… The second is with the end consumer.  Again, we work with some of the world’s most influential brands and they have an opportunity [to increase consumer trust]. And, the third - and equally important - is our employees.  We have a majority millennial work force; we know that purpose led organizations are absolutely critical to retaining talent.”


All three panelists agreed that trust has emerged as the central issue that businesses must address, with Tristram advocating for an interventional approach to improve the trustworthiness of businesses:


“The other strategy… is [to] deepen that distrust and really enhance it, help it to grow and flourish in order to create the demand and the space - the realization that actually what one needs (now that these platforms are building A.I. capabilities generated by the Big Data from our user [footprint]) [is to] put those powers … into institutions that can actually be trusted, because they are institutionally structured to be inviolable rather than totally open to exploitation.”  


Tristram’s organization Feedback Global demonstrates the ability of social innovators to shift business practice and legislation to address social issues - in Feedback’s case, the environmental impact of food. Through this digital movement, he has engaged governments, international institutions, businesses, NGOs and the public to make food waste a truly global conversation.



Arnaud reiterated engaging with the business sector is imperative to addressing global challenges such as health, food wastage, access to clean water and many other social issues. He discussed Ashoka’s vision of creating a global movement of companies committed to create social change – and the importance of having social innovators at the table in these global conversations.


“There is a huge opportunity for the tech world and companies going through the digital economy to think in terms of what is on the other side of this very same coin.  This revolution is on the one hand digital, but has to be social on the other side...  This is what will make a difference in the future; this is what clients, employees, suppliers will eventually look for.” 


The consensus of their discussion was the dial has shifted. Engaging social innovators is no longer about just ‘doing good.’ Rather, there are three clear areas where companies are feeling their contribution: fostering innovation, creating a change-making mindset, plus identifying new growth segments and opportunities.



View the entire discussion here: