The global technology firm, ThoughtWorks, is on a quest to better humanity through pioneering digital tools and bringing cutting-edge products to market. This is something a plethora of tech startups and mammoth tech giants boast as their thru-line, but ThoughtWorks, while somewhat under the radar, may actually be delivering. The company does this by bringing together the most capable, driven, and passionate people they can find—ThoughtWorkers. With social an economic justice pulsing at the core of their mission, ThoughtWorkers are uniquely positioned to influence the intention of technology development across sectors.
"We seek to collaborate with forward-thinking change agents at companies and organizations, from start-ups to large enterprises, whether they are in the commercial, social or government space," says Reyne Quackenbush, who leads marketing at ThoughtWorks. "We identify courageous leaders that desire to think disruptively and want to utilize technology to have an impact.
Below are four examples of some of ways ThoughtWorks is amplifying the convergence of social innovation and tech.
ThoughtWorks regularly contributes to Open Medical Record System (OpenMRS), a community of developers, implementers, and users working toward a shared and open foundation for managing health information in developing countries.
Shortly after Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake, Partners in Health (PIH) designed, constructed, and opened the University Hospital at Mirebalais in Haiti. This 205,000 square-foot, 300-bed facility, which opened in 2013, fills a huge void in the country for people who have until now had limited access to high quality health care. University Hospital functions both as a national referral hospital and as a national teaching hospital dedicated to training the next generations of Haitian health care providers. As part of the outfitting of the new hospital, PIH and ThoughtWorks, designed, developed, and implemented a new electronic medical records system (EMR) using OpenMRS.
mPedigree, another medical project of ThoughtsWorks, is a mobile health service that helps safeguard against counterfeit drugs. More than 700,000 people die annually from counterfeit tuberculosis and malaria medicine in Africa; and more than 30% of all medications in Africa are counterfeit. mPedigree allows people to use SMS technology to validate the medications they have are not counterfeit. This technology has not only helped the end-consumer but the entire supply chain, validating the drug from the manufacturer to distributor to pharmacy, and ensuring fake medication does not enter the distribution chain.
The Digital Prototype Opportunity
ThoughtWorks, along with The New School at Parsons & The Blue Ridge Foundation created the DigitalPrototype Opportunity, an experiment delving into how to help nonprofits integrate digital technology and explore new possibilities of online-leverage impact. The ThoughtWorkers worked with Cool Culture, a NYC non-profit serving over 50,000 income-eligible families access to enjoy 90 of NYC's world-class cultural institutions for free, providing children with experiences that improve literacy and learning. As part of the Digital Prototype Opportunity grant, ThoughtWorks, in close collaboration with Cool Culture, in the short timeframe of four weeks built a mobile-web experience capable of delivering digital passes to 50,000 families.
The battle over freedom of information is one of the leading issues of our time, and ThoughtWorks is part of the movement to protect the public's right to dissent, privacy, and information access. Working with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), one of the leading organizations in the United States on privacy, and the Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF), ThoughtWorks has been busy contributing to SecureDrop, an open-source whistleblower submission system that media organizations can use to securely accept documents from and communicate with anonymous sources. It was originally created by the late Aaron Swartz and is currently managed by Freedom of the Press Foundation.
To learn more about ThoughtWorks, check out and download Technology Radar, an assessment of current changes in software development and business strategy based upon ThoughtWorkers' day-to-day work and experience solving their client’s toughest challenges.