The Impact Sector

Over the last few years at DevMynd we’ve spent a lot of time and energy exploring our purpose and mission as an organization. Hopefully, this is a journey that will never be over, but I’m excited by where it’s taken us so far. We began as a technology delivery company helping clients by augmenting their software teams. And over the last few years we have transformed into a full-service digital product and innovation studio; adding strong design-thinking, UI/UX, and strategy capabilities.

Historically though we haven’t focused on any particular industries but have sought work where it was available. As a new company, this is how you have to operate; you leave a certain amount of your destiny up to fate. But the scatter shot approach to business development didn’t always yield the best results for us or our clients. And, in some ways, it led us to less fulfilling work.

As we head into a new year the next evolution of our strategy and mission is unfolding. It is an incremental but profound shift in what defines a target client for DevMynd. This shift echoes our mission to help our clients solve their biggest and most meaningful challenges. But also to connect our work to human experience. Moving forward, we will direct nearly all of our effort into what we call the Impact Sector.

The Impact Sector Defined

Unlike a traditional industry vertical, the Impact Sector runs horizontally and encapsulates elements of several categories. We describe this sector as “any business or initiative that improves the life of a human being in a significant way.” Broadly defined, the Impact Sector focuses on health, education, safety, environmental sustainability, and nourishment. For us, that means companies or projects that can answer “yes” to at least one of the following questions:

  • Do we make people healthier?
  • Do we make people smarter?
  • Do we make people safer?
  • Do we improve people’s environment?
  • Do we help nourish people?

Each category under the Impact Sector is quite broad. Here are some examples of the many sub-categories we’ll be working with:

Health: Pharmaceuticals, Nutrition, Medical Devices and Connected Apps, Health and Fitness Wearables, Telemedicine, Psychiatric and Substance Abuse, Wellness Programs, Patient Engagement, Population Health

Education: Higher Education, Museums, E-Learning, Learning Management, School Management, Education Publishing and Content, Learning Disability Apps, Distance Learning

Safety: Public Safety, First Response, Product Certification, Food and Beverage Safety, Personal Protection, Building and Structure Inspection, Early Warning Systems

Environmental: Electric Vehicles, Power and Grid Efficiency, Smart Cities, Solar and Wind Energy, Waste Management and Recycling, Mass Transit, Water Treatment and Conservation, Green Construction

Food & Agriculture: Farm Tech, Agricultural Data, Food Production and Distribution, Cold Storage and Logistics, Seed and Fertilizer, Farm Land Management

These categories offer a vast number of opportunities. In their own way, each of them is shackled with legacy processes and aging technologies even while new entrants are beginning to unleash disruptive innovations. Our aim in working with these categories is to help accelerate their digital transformation.

Let’s consider the health category. I’m sure each of us at one time or another has had a disappointing experience with the medical system. Much of that disappointment can be solved with the careful application of human-centered design and technology. For example, new telemedicine technologies coupled with wearables and in-home sensors will provide a completely new experience for interacting with providers. These kinds of advances will push high-quality care to new demographics on the fringes of geography and economic status.

In the area of environmental sustainability, we are faced with the massive challenges evolving as a result of climate change. But we also see new energy options such as solar, wind, and even fusion becoming more efficient each year. And new technologies are changing the way we recycle, conserve and manage water, protect arable land, and improve the efficiency of our buildings and cities.

Education, safety, and nutrition all have their own problems as well. In education, there is our struggling primary school system and macro shifts in higher education. In nutrition, there are many opportunities to improve food production efficiency and make better use of our resources. And safety is an evergreen category that is constantly evolving with technology on numerous fronts.

Seeking Our Why

A TED talk has been floating around for years by a guy called Simon Sinek; if you’re in business or marketing you’ve probably seen it. I’m not a huge fan of his delivery, but I am a fan of his thinking. His point is that great companies that produce tremendous value for both themselves and their customers focus first on the “why” and only later address the “how” and “what” of their businesses.

Much of why are making this move relates to our beliefs as a company. To put it simply, we believe design and technology can dramatically improve the lives of people in almost every aspect of the human experience. We want to make it our mission to empower our clients to create this kind of impact for their customers, employees, and constituents.

The move to focus on the Impact Sector helps us crystalize our “why.” It gives purpose to what we do: design thinking, product strategy, UI/UX design, and mobile and web development. It helps us draw a bright line from our work to the people we do it for and the positive value we leave behind.

Our Challenge to the Impact Sector

Companies in the Impact Sector are at a crossroads. Many of them are mature businesses struggling to find new ways to compete and win in their areas. Time and time again, we see them falling short in both vision and execution. We want to pose the following challenge to these companies:

Don’t just react, don’t just adapt, don’t just compete. Be better than that. Be innovative and get ahead of the pack. Make products, services, and solutions that solve real, deep challenges for people. Remember your “why” and drive towards it harder than ever before. We are living in a time when design, software, and technology are literally shaping the future of humanity. Let’s capture some of that future together and do a lot of good along the way.

JC is the founder and CEO of DevMynd and leads the company’s human-centered strategy practice.