We believe that technology ought to help you increase the good you do in the world
Our story: Read Mark's personal essay
Mark Hambleton, Founder and Senior Analyst, AIS
22 years after starting AIS, it broke my heart to realize that my company had evolved into the very type of business I’d set out to avoid – successful, yet working so hard on profit that ethics took a back seat sometimes.
Back in the 1980s, personal computers were in their infancy and I was drawn to the new opportunity of programming. It’s democratic and creative. It allows small businesses and nonprofits to leverage what used to be available only to the Fortune 500.
This aligned with my belief that all aspects of our lives, including work, can be designed to reduce harm and suffering, and nurture well-being for ourselves, others and the planet.
I want to help companies thrive, in health
I worked hard to build a client base, talking to thousands of potential customers one at a time. Winning a new customer meant I could afford to remain in business and pay the rent, while using customizable software to make company workflows and processes run really well.
Caught up in the busy day-to-day operations of a fast-paced, growing business, I was slow to notice that the companies that had the profit margins to best afford the high-end software that allowed in-depth customization—those companies were largely in industries that tend to value profit above the well-being of humanity.
My client list included a gun distributor, retailers of cheap consumer products that quickly end up in landfills, a multi-state funeral home business responsible for putting toxic chemicals into the soil; and more. Industries that I didn’t want to work in.
My client list included old-school managers who routinely prioritize short-term cost savings over long-term well-being. Like the operations manager who wouldn’t spend $5,000 to automate a project approval backlog, even though the backlog created daily extra work that frustrated his employees and a monthly $500M cash flow problem that increased the company’s financial risk. Or the nonprofit director who wouldn’t allocate enough time to ensure all staff were trained properly, thereby frustrating them (i.e. lower productivity) while losing much of the potential value benefit of the software.
It was disheartening to work with owners who don’t trust their employees or treat them kindly. Like the company president who asked me to hide the cost of his products in the software so that his people couldn’t determine how much profit he was making.
I decided to shift my business and look for companies that valued ethics as much as the bottom line
Even if it meant scaling things back for awhile as I shifted the direction.
I want to work with innovators who are running organizations that prioritize sustainability, who measure their community impact, and who care deeply about worker well-being. I want to work with nonprofit directors who strive to live the values of their organizations at every level. This shift is incredibly re-energizing.
Happily, there’s a growing trend of such leaders today. More entrepreneurs are founding companies that are purpose-driven to disrupt toxic industries, support social justice issues, or deliver environmentally respectful products. Innovative structures abound, like employee-owned companies and cooperatives, and business models that prioritize the health and sustainability of the supply chain.
In family-owned companies, when the younger generation takes over the business, more often they want to modify company practices to do more good in the world while still creating wealth. And more nonprofits are reassessing how they want to work and how their day-to-day actions add up to maximize their total impact.
Not only that, today’s low-end and mid-tier programmable software tools can do far more than the original expensive systems could do when I first started my company. That means that custom programming is now truly democratic. The creativity it allows is accessible to anyone.
The best part is that what I’ve done with my own business—flexibly changing it to align with my beliefs—is the same thing I’m helping others do, too
It brings me joy to work with innovators who value these things as I do, and to design and build software solutions for them that help amplify their positive force in our world.
Getting a financial ROI is ethical too
Use software to gain higher results
When software is used well it brings better stability, ease, productivity and underlying financial health.
Even if you have a powerful entrepreneurial or social impact dream – while helping you create that vision, we’re talking about facilitating your operations in a responsive way.
We’re focusing on high return on investment areas, automating accounting, service dispatch, customer relationship management.
- Get your problem areas quantified so you can easily prioritize next actions
- Get a clear vision and scope in hand to move to a new system efficiently
- Get technical guidance from experts in workflows, accounting and software
Technology and ethics are intertwined
That’s why we’re designers and builders first, not software sales reps or consultants in suits.
The use of flexible source code software as the platform to control the software to serve your needs gives you the ability to take ownership and responsibility for your technology and account for that to your stakeholders.
We’ve been doing this for as long as anybody. We help people deploy technology that creates business value while improving quality of live and the world we live in. These functional choices are as critical to receiving a return on technology investments as anything else. We enjoy helping innovative managers bring their visions into reality, and welcome your call to discuss what you you’re seeking to build.