Socially And Environmentally Aware Business Design

Coala Project > All posts in COALA Project > Blog > Socially And Environmentally Aware Business Design

Socially And Environmentally Aware Business Design

  • White Research
  • Blog
  • No Comments

The importance of understanding the context of business operation

A sound understanding of the context in which projects such as COALA operate plays an important role throughout their lifespan. Successful business design activities define the commercial direction for the project and the strategy for its arrival on the market. We consider several interrelated factors that might affect the product or service.

As the project partner that looks after the business planning and innovation management, White Research complemented COALA’s market and needs analysis with a technique that is popular in businesses to gain a contextual understanding of the enabling environment to run a new business.  It is called PESTEL analysis. This acronym lists the main “layers” or perspectives assessed in the analysis, namely Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental and Legal.  Some people refer to it as PESTLE, or PEST analyses.

The importance of the political, economic, technological and legal aspects is evident and easy to understand. But, we cannot overlook the social and environmental factors. The preliminary market analysis for COALA included important considerations in these sections. Such as the long-lasting effect of the 2019 and 2020 bushfire season in terms of biodiversity loss, permanent ecological damage and the disruption caused to the livelihood of those depending to different degrees on the Australian ecosystems, farmers included.

Agricultural context and COALA

Agriculture accounts for most water extractions for consumptive purposes in Australia. 90% of water extraction is used for irrigation farming, on which one-third of the country’s agricultural output depends. Sustainable water management is thus a priority for agriculture. COALA is developing EO-based data services that allow the estimation of water inflows and outflows and crop nutrient requirements at lower cost, higher accuracy and greater scale than previously possible. In particular, services will support more sustainable use of water and nutrients. The project’s services will improve farm-level decision making and inform water policy implementation. COALA will generate opportunities for better management of water resources. Water resources are becoming more precious. Long term trends predict a future with less water available. And, neglecting these predictions would not build a solid base for COALA products and services.

The activities of the project had to adapt and take into account the social impact of COVID-19. We accounted for the disruptions of the agricultural value chain and adjusted to the different expectations and willingness to engage with our solutions of stakeholders that have paid (and are arguably still paying) a significant psychological toll.

Triple-layered business model

Similarly, the environmental and social layers can be integrated into the business design exercises to expand an economic-centred approach. We have previously outlined the business model’s main building blocks and the analytical framework offered by the business model canvas. The methodologies put forward to design a triple-layered business model canvas add to the classic components (customer value proposition, segments, customer relationships, channels, key resources, key activities, partners, costs and revenues) two other sets of components.

Joyce and Paquin designed the canvases below to give an overview of how to organise the three-layered approach.

In addition to ensuring the horizontal coherence between components of the same layer, the benefit offered by this model is the possibility to assess the “vertical” coherence between layers. COALA’s multifaceted assessment of the context, for example, can be expanded through the business modelling exercise by keeping in mind the relationship between layers, integrating the analysis of costs with an understanding of environmental and social impacts, or complementing the value proposition of its services with considerations on their functional and social value.

Social value of the project

The social value of agriculture in Australia is immense. Uncertainty regarding the future availability of resources, including water and nutrients, puts pressure on the industry. This pressure specifically affects desire (and need) to produce more efficiently and save important resources.

There is a need for more cost-effective and precise tools. These tools should support informed agricultural decision-making, reducing the waste of critical resources and improving water management. COALA will respond to the many social and environmental needs of the Australian agricultural sector by developing an effective and low-cost solution providing data for the integrated management of irrigation water and nutrients input and enabling different users to share the same information, which in turn will facilitate the sustainable management of water across the entire value chain.

The few elements presented in this blog give an idea of how considering the multifaceted nature of the context and the market a project operates is crucial for a well-rounded and conscious commercialisation strategy.

Leave a Reply