Digital Identity – All About That Choice

Brian Lee-Archer

“All About That Bass” is the debut single by American singer and songwriter Meghan Trainor. It was released by Epic Records on June 30, 2014. One interpretation of the song title and lyrics is a callout to embrace inner beauty and to promote a positive body image and self-acceptance. To put it simply, people should be free to choose how they look and others should respect that choice.

People make life choices and there are risks involved – eat this, don’t eat that, avoid this, do more of that. It is all part of the rich tapestry of life. Public policymakers have an obligation to inform people of potential risks and to reflect attitudes of the broader community through legislation to prevent or sanction behaviours that can cause harm.

In a free society, however, people have the opportunity to exercise a wide range of life choices where society is prepared to accept some risk. Therefore, people have the opportunity to make decisions that may inadvertently lead to negative outcomes. In the public policy discourse, these consequences are weighed up against the overall positive outcomes achieved through allowing people to have choice.

It’s a pity we can’t adopt the same attitude towards digital identity; too often it gets caught up in an all-or-nothing debate. One of the benefits of the digital revolution is the capability to move away from one-size-fits-all business models. Services, including government services, can now be tailored based on the needs, wants, and capabilities of the person who will consume those services. Instead of the service provider prescribing the mode of delivery, the consumer can exercise choice. But in exercising choice, there is a different risk profile for each option. People need to be informed of the risks and their choices should then be respected.

My colleague, Kathleen O’Brien, global industry principal for public sector at SAP Hybris, wrote in a recent op-ed published in the Australian:

As we continue our journey into the data-driven and digital world in which we live, I encourage Australians to not be unnerved by the Government’s efforts to adopt a digital-first approach. There is much to gain from the changes, and embracing these types of digital platforms is essential in positioning Australia as a leader in the global economy, which is fast moving to digital services.

The concern is that as governments take steps to provide much-needed digital identity infrastructure, there will be a chorus of opposition rolling out the traditional arguments of privacy, data protection, trust in government, Big Brother,etc. These are risks which the public needs to be informed about, but they should not be used as a one-size-fits-all barrier to a digital identity system for those people who want to voluntarily opt-in and exercise choice.

There are daily reports and warnings of cybercrime, data breaches, and hacking – yet the public’s appetite to engage in digital commerce and services using digital credentials to identify themselves, such as fingerprints for their smartphones and tablets, continues to grow. It is clear a sizable proportion of the population is ready to access digital services through a digital identity. True, their appreciation of the risks involved may not all be the same and in some cases may be naïve, but this is no different to how people assess risk for a range of lifestyle factors. Should the opponents of a digital identity system be allowed to deny the benefits of same for those who want it and who are prepared to accept the risks involved?

The world has moved on since Orwell’s 1984. A key feature of the digital revolution is its empowering nature for individuals where choice is king and one-size-fits-all service delivery models can be sent to the museum. It is a valid choice to stay out of the digital space and live in a world of paper documents where your personal information is kept well out of harm’s way. Policymakers and the community need to respect the choices people make and legislate, where appropriate, to provide protections that enable, not restrict, people’s choices.

Policymakers have shown they can be adept at setting laws and policies that enable choice while allowing people to bear a risk burden that comes with the choices they make – the aim is to do the same with a digital identity. It’s all about that choice.

As for the koala picture— what is its connection to digital identity? Koalas are the only other animal that, like humans, have individual fingerprints.  Their fingerprints, although distinguishable, appear similar to humans.  So you might need to be careful about lending a koala your smartphone.

To find out more about the SAP Institute for Digital Government visit, follow us on Twitter @sapsidg and email us at 


Brian Lee-Archer

About Brian Lee-Archer

Brian Lee-Archer is director of the SAP Institute for Digital Government Global (SIDG). Launched in 2015, SIDG is a global think tank that aims to create value for government by leveraging digital capability to meet the needs of citizens and consumers of government services. In collaboration with government agencies, universities and partner organizations, SIDG facilitates innovation through digital technology for deeper policy insight and improved service delivery.

CIO Strategy: To Improve Employee Engagement, Buy Cupcakes

Manik Narayan Saha

Research clearly shows that highly engaged employees are good for business. People who feel connected to their employer are more productive, generate more revenues, and help the company thrive.

But did you know that IT can contribute to this success? According to new research from IDC [1], companies that develop a strong relationship between IT and the lines of business can measurably increase corporate performance.

IDC compared two types of enterprises: those where IT proactively worked with the business and those that did not cultivate a close relationship. Over three years, the companies with the strong IT-business connection achieved:

  • 90% greater growth in revenue from new product lines [1]
  • 80% greater growth in revenue from established product lines [1]
  • 50% greater improvement in compliance-related activities [1]

Introducing IT Day

These are compelling results that any CIO would be pleased to deliver. Yet creating active engagement between IT and the business can be challenging. Many employees view IT as a mere service provider—one to be consulted only when there is a problem.

How can an innovative, forward-thinking CIO demonstrate to employees that IT is more than just a support function? And how can IT help the company grow, modernize, and create market advantage?

At the SAP office in Singapore, the IT services team recently organized an IT Day to showcase our capabilities. Our goals: to educate employees on how IT delivers value to SAP and to demo the IT services that help employees work more effectively and efficiently.

Around 200 employees from multiple lines of business attended IT Day, following three tracks:

  • Expert talks that focused on the areas where IT is driving user productivity, cybersecurity, and innovation
  • Expert booths, modeled after the Apple Genius Bar, where employees received immediate service and experienced cool new products
  • Vendor booths, which provided special product offers to employees

To sweeten the deal and attract even more on-site employees, we also offered an afternoon snack of cupcakes, tea, and coffee. All 200 cupcakes were devoured in less than an hour. Employees were also eligible to participate in prize drawings.

Enabling productivity through IT

On the IT team, our goal is to enable SAP to transform into a digital enterprise using the best-in-class solutions, products, and services available in the market. Especially in the current era, IT can have a tremendous positive impact across the entire company by enabling the right technology for the organization.

From a strategic perspective, this meant focusing on two key aspects of the enterprise:

  1. Digitalization of enterprise business processes for efficiency – simplifying, automating, and massively scaling out existing business processes to meet the new demands of the digital economy. This meant upgrading our existing processes to support new business models such as volume business and subscription- and consumption-based billing. At the same time, the IT team is constantly thinking about how new technology can make a difference – for instance, using machine learning to significantly increase automation levels at our shared services organization.
  1. Digitalization of personal workspaces for higher productivity: Another key goal of the IT organization is rapidly enabling the SAP workforce to be agile, efficient, and productive so that the value each employee brings to the company multiplies exponentially.

At the IT Day, attendance was higher than anticipated, and the feedback was very positive. We offered sessions where employees learned how collaboration tools can help them be more productive working in virtual teams, and demonstrated in action the machine learning technology I mentioned above.

By actively engaging with our customers proactively, I think the IT services organization took steps toward increasing employee understanding of how we support their efficiency, productivity, and satisfaction. As the research shows, a strong IT-business partnership with engaged employees is a competitive advantage—so those cupcakes were definitely a worthwhile investment.

A great resource for CIOs is available at the SAP Technology is Live hub where there is a rich library of research and insights into the most relevant topics in the world of IT and digital transformation.

[1] IDC Perspective, “Six Priorities and Behaviors of Successful IT Organizations,” doc #US42251116, January 2017.


Manik Narayan Saha

About Manik Narayan Saha

Manik Narayan Saha is the regional CIO for SAP Asia Pacific and Japan. Based in Singapore, Saha leads a global multinational and multicultural IT organization. As part of the SAP Senior Leadership team in APJ, he represents IT Services to more than 25,000+ employees in the region. As companies rapidly move to a digital agenda, Saha works closely with SAP’s leadership team in APJ to execute on enabling SAP as the digital enterprise. Saha is a member of the Insead Alumni Network and a Regional Ambassador of the Insead International Directors Network for Singapore. Saha received his degree in Computer Engineering from Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) and has a Masters in Applied Finance from the Singapore Management University.

Open Source Is Inspiring Digital Transformation

Thomas Di Giacomo

Today, many companies face the challenge of preparing their IT infrastructure and processes for digital transformation. IT environments that have grown over many years cannot adapt to digitization requirements in one swoop. This is often evident when companies outsource certain applications to new IT infrastructures – such as (hybrid) cloud scenarios – while other workloads continue to run on the existing IT infrastructure.

To ensure everything functions smoothly, any new solutions deployed must support integration or at least be compatible with legacy systems while enabling migration over time. Open source software is becoming an increasingly common way for businesses to make their digital transition successful.

Bridge between old and new

Open source software is considered the engine of digital transformation. This is because:

  • Open source software is not bound to proprietary license costs.
  • It is always up to date, and often more innovative and forward-looking than proprietary solutions.
  • Open source software is carried and further developed by a global community of developers and numerous manufacturers.
  • Having multiple expert eyes on the open source code also ensures that security gaps are discovered and closed quickly.

Digital transformation with open source: a team effort

In order to have a successful digital transformation, companies can’t just dive into the realm of open source software without knowing how to use it effectively for their business and in tandem with their existing IT environment. That’s why it’s important to have a dedicated development and operations (DevOps) team in place for effective communication and collaboration between product management, software development, and business operations.

With DevOps principles, companies can implement agile working methods and continuously improve their products. At the same time, effective collaboration in DevOps teams reduces and possibly eliminates traditional silo mentality and simplifies communication between development, operations, and quality assurance (QA). This makes employees more flexible and promotes innovation.

On the technical side, companies need transparent, measurable tools that enable maximum automation and change – like the software-defined data center/infrastructure or OpenStack cloud – both of which originate from the open source environment. This enables automated testing and incremental development, which is why containers and software-defined infrastructure (SDI) also deliver the foundation for DevOps. This example also illustrates that DevOps would not be conceivable without the open source environment.

Rely on the right partner

Many companies have IT environments that have been operating for decades. So during any digital transition, it’s crucial to have an effective DevOps team partnered with the right open source and enterprise Linux provider to help create a suitable infrastructure environment and serve as a bridge builder into the digital age.

Enterprise open source and Linux providers can help create the necessary preconditions for digital transformation of an enterprise IT environment for the following reasons:

  1. They have expert knowledge of open source software.
  1. They have been instrumental in closing the gaps between open source solutions and established systems since 2000.
  1. They have been working with the underlying innovative development methods of open source approaches for years, which gives them a deep understanding of DevOps principles like continuous delivery.

Companies with legacy IT environments cannot realize the benefits of digital transformation immediately – and they don’t need to – because step-by-step migration to DevOps, cloud native applications, and cloud infrastructure is possible. Companies should rely on the right partner to ensure that the migration – which can take years – runs smoothly.

Learn more about partnering with an enterprise open source and Linux provider.


Thomas Di Giacomo

About Thomas Di Giacomo

Dr. Thomas Di Giacomo is Chief Technology Officer at SUSE. He holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Geneva, and has over 15 years of experience in the IT industry serving in various global leadership roles in engineering and product innovation. He has expertise in open source platforms, development, and support of global information systems and technologies applied to various industries such as telecommunication, hospitality, and healthcare.

Diving Deep Into Digital Experiences

Kai Goerlich


Google Cardboard VR goggles cost US$8
By 2019, immersive solutions
will be adopted in 20% of enterprise businesses
By 2025, the market for immersive hardware and software technology could be $182 billion
In 2017, Lowe’s launched
Holoroom How To VR DIY clinics

From Dipping a Toe to Fully Immersed

The first wave of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is here,

using smartphones, glasses, and goggles to place us in the middle of 360-degree digital environments or overlay digital artifacts on the physical world. Prototypes, pilot projects, and first movers have already emerged:

  • Guiding warehouse pickers, cargo loaders, and truck drivers with AR
  • Overlaying constantly updated blueprints, measurements, and other construction data on building sites in real time with AR
  • Building 3D machine prototypes in VR for virtual testing and maintenance planning
  • Exhibiting new appliances and fixtures in a VR mockup of the customer’s home
  • Teaching medicine with AR tools that overlay diagnostics and instructions on patients’ bodies

A Vast Sea of Possibilities

Immersive technologies leapt forward in spring 2017 with the introduction of three new products:

  • Nvidia’s Project Holodeck, which generates shared photorealistic VR environments
  • A cloud-based platform for industrial AR from Lenovo New Vision AR and Wikitude
  • A workspace and headset from Meta that lets users use their hands to interact with AR artifacts

The Truly Digital Workplace

New immersive experiences won’t simply be new tools for existing tasks. They promise to create entirely new ways of working.

VR avatars that look and sound like their owners will soon be able to meet in realistic virtual meeting spaces without requiring users to leave their desks or even their homes. With enough computing power and a smart-enough AI, we could soon let VR avatars act as our proxies while we’re doing other things—and (theoretically) do it well enough that no one can tell the difference.

We’ll need a way to signal when an avatar is being human driven in real time, when it’s on autopilot, and when it’s owned by a bot.

What Is Immersion?

A completely immersive experience that’s indistinguishable from real life is impossible given the current constraints on power, throughput, and battery life.

To make current digital experiences more convincing, we’ll need interactive sensors in objects and materials, more powerful infrastructure to create realistic images, and smarter interfaces to interpret and interact with data.

When everything around us is intelligent and interactive, every environment could have an AR overlay or VR presence, with use cases ranging from gaming to firefighting.

We could see a backlash touting the superiority of the unmediated physical world—but multisensory immersive experiences that we can navigate in 360-degree space will change what we consider “real.”

Download the executive brief Diving Deep Into Digital Experiences.

Read the full article Swimming in the Immersive Digital Experience.


Kai Goerlich

About Kai Goerlich

Kai Goerlich is the Chief Futurist at SAP Innovation Center network His specialties include Competitive Intelligence, Market Intelligence, Corporate Foresight, Trends, Futuring and ideation. Share your thoughts with Kai on Twitter @KaiGoe.heif Futu


Jenny Dearborn: Soft Skills Will Be Essential for Future Careers

Jenny Dearborn

The Japanese culture has always shown a special reverence for its elderly. That’s why, in 1963, the government began a tradition of giving a silver dish, called a sakazuki, to each citizen who reached the age of 100 by Keiro no Hi (Respect for the Elders Day), which is celebrated on the third Monday of each September.

That first year, there were 153 recipients, according to The Japan Times. By 2016, the number had swelled to more than 65,000, and the dishes cost the already cash-strapped government more than US$2 million, Business Insider reports. Despite the country’s continued devotion to its seniors, the article continues, the government felt obliged to downgrade the finish of the dishes to silver plating to save money.

What tends to get lost in discussions about automation taking over jobs and Millennials taking over the workplace is the impact of increased longevity. In the future, people will need to be in the workforce much longer than they are today. Half of the people born in Japan today, for example, are predicted to live to 107, making their ancestors seem fragile, according to Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, professors at the London Business School and authors of The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity.

The End of the Three-Stage Career

Assuming that advances in healthcare continue, future generations in wealthier societies could be looking at careers lasting 65 or more years, rather than at the roughly 40 years for today’s 70-year-olds, write Gratton and Scott. The three-stage model of employment that dominates the global economy today—education, work, and retirement—will be blown out of the water.

It will be replaced by a new model in which people continually learn new skills and shed old ones. Consider that today’s most in-demand occupations and specialties did not exist 10 years ago, according to The Future of Jobs, a report from the World Economic Forum.

And the pace of change is only going to accelerate. Sixty-five percent of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in jobs that don’t yet exist, the report notes.

Our current educational systems are not equipped to cope with this degree of change. For example, roughly half of the subject knowledge acquired during the first year of a four-year technical degree, such as computer science, is outdated by the time students graduate, the report continues.

Skills That Transcend the Job Market

Instead of treating post-secondary education as a jumping-off point for a specific career path, we may see a switch to a shorter school career that focuses more on skills that transcend a constantly shifting job market. Today, some of these skills, such as complex problem solving and critical thinking, are taught mostly in the context of broader disciplines, such as math or the humanities.

Other competencies that will become critically important in the future are currently treated as if they come naturally or over time with maturity or experience. We receive little, if any, formal training, for example, in creativity and innovation, empathy, emotional intelligence, cross-cultural awareness, persuasion, active listening, and acceptance of change. (No wonder the self-help marketplace continues to thrive!)

The three-stage model of employment that dominates the global economy today—education, work, and retirement—will be blown out of the water.

These skills, which today are heaped together under the dismissive “soft” rubric, are going to harden up to become indispensable. They will become more important, thanks to artificial intelligence and machine learning, which will usher in an era of infinite information, rendering the concept of an expert in most of today’s job disciplines a quaint relic. As our ability to know more than those around us decreases, our need to be able to collaborate well (with both humans and machines) will help define our success in the future.

Individuals and organizations alike will have to learn how to become more flexible and ready to give up set-in-stone ideas about how businesses and careers are supposed to operate. Given the rapid advances in knowledge and attendant skills that the future will bring, we must be willing to say, repeatedly, that whatever we’ve learned to that point doesn’t apply anymore.

Careers will become more like life itself: a series of unpredictable, fluid experiences rather than a tightly scripted narrative. We need to think about the way forward and be more willing to accept change at the individual and organizational levels.

Rethink Employee Training

One way that organizations can help employees manage this shift is by rethinking training. Today, overworked and overwhelmed employees devote just 1% of their workweek to learning, according to a study by consultancy Bersin by Deloitte. Meanwhile, top business leaders such as Bill Gates and Nike founder Phil Knight spend about five hours a week reading, thinking, and experimenting, according to an article in Inc. magazine.

If organizations are to avoid high turnover costs in a world where the need for new skills is shifting constantly, they must give employees more time for learning and make training courses more relevant to the future needs of organizations and individuals, not just to their current needs.

The amount of learning required will vary by role. That’s why at SAP we’re creating learning personas for specific roles in the company and determining how many hours will be required for each. We’re also dividing up training hours into distinct topics:

  • Law: 10%. This is training required by law, such as training to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

  • Company: 20%. Company training includes internal policies and systems.

  • Business: 30%. Employees learn skills required for their current roles in their business units.

  • Future: 40%. This is internal, external, and employee-driven training to close critical skill gaps for jobs of the future.

In the future, we will always need to learn, grow, read, seek out knowledge and truth, and better ourselves with new skills. With the support of employers and educators, we will transform our hardwired fear of change into excitement for change.

We must be able to say to ourselves, “I’m excited to learn something new that I never thought I could do or that never seemed possible before.” D!