Siloed Diversity Holds Us All Back

Jill Willcox

There is conflict over an issue in the field of diversity and inclusion that needs to be addressed. Here are the two opposing schools of thought:

  1. Diversity is a long process, and every disenfranchised group can’t get there at once. As we work on gender and racial diversity, we will open the door for other groups.
  1. The siloing of advancement in diversity is holding every group back. The very idea of diversity and inclusion is that every group should be equal and represented fully in business. You can’t have partial diversity and consider that a success.

In recent years, businesses have been paying closer attention to diversity issues, since studies continue to show that diverse workforces are more productive and more profitable than homogenous ones. They are also more creative because people coming from diverse backgrounds with varied life experiences bring different approaches. It only makes sense that diversity of thought breeds more creative and effective problem solving.

So, for the purposes of this discussion, we can agree that diversity is good for business. The sticking point has always been how to actually make it happen in the workplace. The business world is rife with consultants whose purpose is to help organizations shift their hiring practices and create more diverse employee workforces, but it has been slow going at many companies. This slow movement is obviously of great concern for everyone shut out by homogenized work cultures, but this is critically important to those individuals who do not fit the two groups most talked about in the movement – gender and racial diversity. If it has taken this long to work towards a CONVERSATION on diversity for those groups, how long will individuals with differences not connected to race and gender have to wait for their turn to be included?

The reality of diversity today

In order to get to the heart of the matter, let’s look at where diversity in business stands today:

  • 2016 Fortune 500 list includes only 21 women CEOs, down from 24 last year (the highest number ever reached)
  • There is no research on the employment rate of people with speech and language disorders

Now let’s look at the U.S. population:

  • 13% of the population is African-American
  • 51% are female (2010 U.S. Census)
  • More than 3.5 million Americans have autism

Not only do we have the persistent issue of primarily all white male executive leadership in business, the employment numbers of those with a disability of any type are startling. So how do we fix it?

One for all, and all for one

In order to understand why separate movements for diversity are less effective than an inclusive one, we only have to look at the Women’s Suffragette movement. Lucy Stone, the founder of the original movement, broke with her friends Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton because, unlike her, they did not support the 14th and 15th Amendments, giving black men citizenship and the right to vote. Their movements splintered as Susan B. Anthony moved closer to radical anti-black groups, and many scholars argue that this separation caused a delay in the movement accomplishing their goals.

Sadly, a thorough study of the impact of diversity outside of race and gender has yet to be undertaken. The UK’s Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills undertook an international assessment of diversity studies and found:

“There are very few workplace studies that attempt to quantify the impacts of diversity on business outcomes, when considering disability, religion, and sexual orientation. In many instances this is a result of data limitations. Very few private sector firms collect systematic and useable data on religion and sexual orientation (see for instance, 2012 Diversity League Tables). Even if they do, response rates can be very low and data on disability are often hard to analyse as they are often self-reported and can cover a wide range of conditions.”

One of our goals at The Speech Factor is to raise awareness and promote the undertaking of a study that we believe will show that diversity in all forms holds a clear benefit for businesses.

It is obvious that if all marginalized groups gathered together under a unified front they’d have a far greater number of people pushing towards the same goal, with an undeniably louder voice. Diversity can’t work in silos, because the silos are exactly what it needs to destroy in order to have success.

Learn How to Design a Flexible, Connected Workspace.

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Digitization Is Crucial To Achieve UN Global Goals

Daniel Schmid

Concern, hope, enthusiasm: This was the mixture of sentiments that I perceived during the World Economic Forum (WEF) Sustainable Development Impact Summit in New York City last month.

More than 700 leaders from more than 70 countries took part—including government, business, international organizations, research centers, and not-for profits. Panelists included Salesforce CEO Marc R. Benioff, Mars president Jean-Christophe Flatin, Roche vice-chairman André S. Hoffmann, and Royal Philips president and CEO Frans van Houten.

Concern

Former U.S. Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize winner* Al Gore pointed out, in a panel discussion titled “Global Progress through Partnerships,” that the past two weeks saw two record-breaking climate-connected storms. Hurricane Harvey crossed the Gulf of Mexico, which was over four degrees warmer than normal, resulting in enormous amounts of rain. The rainfall totals in Houston were a once-every-25,000-years event. The monsoon in South Asia also brought 70 cm more rain than normal, with one-third of Bangladesh underwater.

Gore said, “We are departing the familiar bounds of history as we have known it since civilization began.” In contrast, other areas are experiencing devastating droughts: 80 percent of Portugal is in drought, and 70 large fires have burned in the western part of North America.

These conditions also create climate refugees. “Long before the civil war in Syria started, the worst drought in 900 years of record-keeping destroyed 60 percent of farms. One and a half million climate refugees entered the cities,” Gore pointed out, adding that this is a contributing factor to the war in Syria.

Hope

“But,” Gore added, “we are also meeting in a time of extraordinary and unprecedented hope.” The World Economic Forum was incremental in building the success of the Paris Agreement, and will continue to play a key role in implementing it. “Public private partnerships are the keys to putting in place the solutions we need.”

The day after the U.S. government announced it would leave the Paris Agreement, Gore said, political and business leaders, states, cities, etc., doubled down on their commitment, saying “We are still there!” SAP is one of the companies that is strongly committed to climate action: We plan to be carbon-neutral by 2025.

According to Gore, there are additional reasons for hope: Technology becomes better and cheaper all the time, a phenomenon known as the “cost-down curve.” Gadgets can now be run with wind or solar energy, and efficiency is better than ever. “The Fourth Industrial Revolution is also a sustainability revolution,” Gore said. Technology is key to meeting the sustainable development goals.

This was also consensus in the panel discussion “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Technology-Driven, Human-Centred”: Panelists emphasized the opportunities technology brings, from artificial intelligence (AI) to improve working conditions to mobile phones in India that enable everyone to play a part in the economy (e.g. have a bank account)—even those who were formerly excluded. For girls in Africa, learning IT and coding skills bring hope for a better life.

My take? It is up to us to ensure that the opportunities technology offers outweigh the risks. To help drive awareness around the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and showcase examples of how IT can help contribute to them, SAP has published an interactive web book and iPad app as well as a free online course on openSAP: “Sustainability through Digital Transformation.”

Enthusiasm

The theme of most of the speeches and discussions I witnessed at the summit was “There is no planet B,” but also “Together we can make it,” meaning that government, public, and private-sector organizations need to cooperate to tackle the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With partnerships and cooperation, they have the power to create positive economic, social, and environmental value through technology, solutions, and skills.

World Economic Forum founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab described the summit’s intention: “What is needed is a true agenda for global public-private cooperation, with the objective not to defend individual interests, but to keep the destiny of humankind as a whole in mind.”

As a result of the summit, several major new initiatives that will advance public-private cooperation on the global goals were announced or launched, including:

These initiatives show the will to cooperate and the readiness to act of leaders from all over the world—let us all have a part in tackling the biggest challenges of the planet!

*The Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 was awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former US Vice President Al Gore for their efforts to obtain and disseminate information about the climate challenge. In Gore’s case, the award was grounded in his tireless campaign to put the climate crisis on the political agenda.

This story originally appeared on the SAP Community.

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Daniel Schmid

About Daniel Schmid

Daniel Schmid was appointed Chief Sustainability Officer at SAP in 2014. Since 2008 he has been engaged in transforming SAP into a role model of a sustainable organization, establishing mid and long term sustainability targets. Linking non-financial and financial performance are key achievements of Daniel and his team.

Defeating Poverty In Ghana, One Shoe At A Time

Michael Kure

Walk a mile in George Kwame Baah’s shoes and you might get an inkling of his remarkable journey. In 11 years, Baah transitioned from a poverty-stricken life in his native Ghana to working as a full-time engineer in the United States, where he is founder and chief product designer of his own footwear e-commerce business, Kwame Baah.

Buying a pair of shoes was too expensive for Baah’s family when he was a child—so he innovated, making his own shoes out of recycled tires.

This experience led him to launch his namesake e-commerce business years later, selling contemporary-designed Ghanaian sandals and shoes across the United States.

Designed to alleviate poverty

Baah designs the footwear at the company’s headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, but the footwear products are handcrafted by his employees back in Ghana—mainly Baah’s mother, siblings, and some neighbors. Handcrafting these signature shoes enables all to support themselves.

“Kwame Baah shoes are designed to alleviate poverty,” Baah said.

It is the driving force behind Kwame Baah. And the company does so by providing a living wage for its workers in Baah’s Ghanaian hometown.

That’s a big reason why George’s passion to see his business succeed is as strong as his altruism.

Supporting his business, family, and fellow townspeople

George was inspired to launch Kwame Baah in part by his native culture, which values support and neighbors who need financial help. Baah accepts and owns this responsibility unconditionally.

Baah came to the U.S. in 2000 to study engineering, which led to a full-time job. Yet he still chose to enter an already crowded global industry dominated by powerhouse competition such as Nike and Adidas.

That can be challenging. Consumers are generally hesitant to try something new and unbranded. Nevertheless, Kwame Baah has been able to stand out among the competition, thanks to its uniquely stylish design, superior craftsmanship, and materials from Ghana.

Studies show that millennials are more inclined to purchase products from companies doing good for society, and that’s exactly the competitive advantage that George is selling.

“Most of our clients are people looking for something new, something stylish. You get a shoe that is well made and very stylish…that you can’t find on any [other] market,” Baah said. “And then you have a great story behind it—that’s our competitive edge.”

More shoes sold means more people helped

Providing a living wage requires selling a lot of shoes, just as generating awareness and growing sales requires a proven business solution to scale growth. Baah chose the end-to-end an e-commerce solution designed for small and midsize businesses to help his company think ahead in terms of future growth.

“Being able to expand and have all these analytical tools and data at my fingertips [is] what drew me to the technology,” Baah said.

Baah has made the most use of his new technology’s data analytics tool. Data collected from social media tracking helps George make more informed decisions on how to reach his audience and generate further awareness in the marketplace.

Baah expects his new business solution to help his company grow, scale, and operate more efficiently. Every penny of additional profit puts more money into the pockets of the artisans.

Another benefit has been the exposure.

“This digital approach will bring more publicity to the company because retailers we work with see that as a sign of credibility,” Baah said. In fact, since signing on, Kwame Baah footwear has been picked up and sold by the brand, Free People, an exclusive, trendy brand very popular among young people.

George’s story is truly an inspiration to all small business owners: a quality product with universal appeal and an even better purpose. Kwame Baah is a leader in meaningful business success.

Click here to learn more about how SAP Anywhere can help grow your small business.

 

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Michael Kure

About Michael Kure

Michael Kure is the lead copywriter on the Small and Midsize Businesses team and comes to SAP with 15 years of marketing communications, copywriting, and editorial experience.

The Future Will Be Co-Created

Dan Wellers and Timo Elliott

 

Just 3% of companies have completed enterprise digital transformation projects.
92% of those companies have significantly improved or transformed customer engagement.
81% of business executives say platforms will reshape industries into interconnected ecosystems.
More than half of large enterprises (80% of the Global 500) will join industry platforms by 2018.

Link to Sources


Redefining Customer Experience

Many business leaders think of the customer journey or experience as the interaction an individual or business has with their firm.

But the business value of the future will exist in the much broader, end-to-end experiences of a customer—the experience of travel, for example, or healthcare management or mobility. Individual companies alone, even with their existing supplier networks, lack the capacity to transform these comprehensive experiences.


A Network Effect

Rather than go it alone, companies will develop deep collaborative relationships across industries—even with their customers—to create powerful ecosystems that multiply the breadth and depth of the products, services, and experiences they can deliver. Digital native companies like Baidu and Uber have embraced ecosystem thinking from their early days. But forward-looking legacy companies are beginning to take the approach.

Solutions could include:

  • Packaging provider Weig has integrated partners into production with customers co-inventing custom materials.
  • China’s Ping An insurance company is aggressively expanding beyond its sector with a digital platform to help customers manage their healthcare experience.
  • British roadside assistance provider RAC is delivering a predictive breakdown service for drivers by acquiring and partnering with high-tech companies.

What Color Is Your Ecosystem?

Abandoning long-held notions of business value creation in favor of an ecosystem approach requires new tactics and strategies. Companies can:

1.  Dispassionately map the end-to-end customer experience, including those pieces outside company control.

2.  Employ future planning tactics, such as scenario planning, to examine how that experience might evolve.

3.  Identify organizations in that experience ecosystem with whom you might co-innovate.

4.  Embrace technologies that foster secure collaboration and joint innovation around delivery of experiences, such as cloud computing, APIs, and micro-services.

5.  Hire, train for, and reward creativity, innovation, and customer-centricity.


Evolve or Be Commoditized

Some companies will remain in their traditional industry boxes, churning out products and services in isolation. But they will be commodity players reaping commensurate returns. Companies that want to remain competitive will seek out their new ecosystem or get left out in the cold.


Download the executive brief The Future Will be Co-Created.


Read the full article The Future Belongs to Industry-Busting Ecosystems.

Turn insight into action, make better decisions, and transform your business.  Learn how.

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About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is founder and leader of Digital Futures at SAP, a strategic insights and thought leadership discipline that explores how digital technologies drive exponential change in business and society.

About Timo Elliott

Timo Elliott is an Innovation Evangelist for SAP and a passionate advocate of innovation, digital business, analytics, and artificial intelligence. He was the eighth employee of BusinessObjects and for the last 25 years he has worked closely with SAP customers around the world on new technology directions and their impact on real-world organizations. His articles have appeared in articles such as Harvard Business Review, Forbes, ZDNet, The Guardian, and Digitalist Magazine. He has worked in the UK, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Silicon Valley, and currently lives in Paris, France. He has a degree in Econometrics and a patent in mobile analytics. 

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Blockchain: Much Ado About Nothing? How Very Wrong!

Juergen Roehricht

Let me start with a quote from McKinsey, that in my view hits the nail right on the head:

“No matter what the context, there’s a strong possibility that blockchain will affect your business. The very big question is when.”

Now, in the industries that I cover in my role as general manager and innovation lead for travel and transportation/cargo, engineering, construction and operations, professional services, and media, I engage with many different digital leaders on a regular basis. We are having visionary conversations about the impact of digital technologies and digital transformation on business models and business processes and the way companies address them. Many topics are at different stages of the hype cycle, but the one that definitely stands out is blockchain as a new enabling technology in the enterprise space.

Just a few weeks ago, a customer said to me: “My board is all about blockchain, but I don’t get what the excitement is about – isn’t this just about Bitcoin and a cryptocurrency?”

I can totally understand his confusion. I’ve been talking to many blockchain experts who know that it will have a big impact on many industries and the related business communities. But even they are uncertain about the where, how, and when, and about the strategy on how to deal with it. The reason is that we often look at it from a technology point of view. This is a common mistake, as the starting point should be the business problem and the business issue or process that you want to solve or create.

In my many interactions with Torsten Zube, vice president and blockchain lead at the SAP Innovation Center Network (ICN) in Potsdam, Germany, he has made it very clear that it’s mandatory to “start by identifying the real business problem and then … figure out how blockchain can add value.” This is the right approach.

What we really need to do is provide guidance for our customers to enable them to bring this into the context of their business in order to understand and define valuable use cases for blockchain. We need to use design thinking or other creative strategies to identify the relevant fields for a particular company. We must work with our customers and review their processes and business models to determine which key blockchain aspects, such as provenance and trust, are crucial elements in their industry. This way, we can identify use cases in which blockchain will benefit their business and make their company more successful.

My highly regarded colleague Ulrich Scholl, who is responsible for externalizing the latest industry innovations, especially blockchain, in our SAP Industries organization, recently said: “These kinds of use cases are often not evident, as blockchain capabilities sometimes provide minor but crucial elements when used in combination with other enabling technologies such as IoT and machine learning.” In one recent and very interesting customer case from the autonomous province of South Tyrol, Italy, blockchain was one of various cloud platform services required to make this scenario happen.

How to identify “blockchainable” processes and business topics (value drivers)

To understand the true value and impact of blockchain, we need to keep in mind that a verified transaction can involve any kind of digital asset such as cryptocurrency, contracts, and records (for instance, assets can be tangible equipment or digital media). While blockchain can be used for many different scenarios, some don’t need blockchain technology because they could be handled by a simple ledger, managed and owned by the company, or have such a large volume of data that a distributed ledger cannot support it. Blockchain would not the right solution for these scenarios.

Here are some common factors that can help identify potential blockchain use cases:

  • Multiparty collaboration: Are many different parties, and not just one, involved in the process or scenario, but one party dominates everything? For example, a company with many parties in the ecosystem that are all connected to it but not in a network or more decentralized structure.
  • Process optimization: Will blockchain massively improve a process that today is performed manually, involves multiple parties, needs to be digitized, and is very cumbersome to manage or be part of?
  • Transparency and auditability: Is it important to offer each party transparency (e.g., on the origin, delivery, geolocation, and hand-overs) and auditable steps? (e.g., How can I be sure that the wine in my bottle really is from Bordeaux?)
  • Risk and fraud minimization: Does it help (or is there a need) to minimize risk and fraud for each party, or at least for most of them in the chain? (e.g., A company might want to know if its goods have suffered any shocks in transit or whether the predefined route was not followed.)

Connecting blockchain with the Internet of Things

This is where blockchain’s value can be increased and automated. Just think about a blockchain that is not just maintained or simply added by a human, but automatically acquires different signals from sensors, such as geolocation, temperature, shock, usage hours, alerts, etc. One that knows when a payment or any kind of money transfer has been made, a delivery has been received or arrived at its destination, or a digital asset has been downloaded from the Internet. The relevant automated actions or signals are then recorded in the distributed ledger/blockchain.

Of course, given the massive amount of data that is created by those sensors, automated signals, and data streams, it is imperative that only the very few pieces of data coming from a signal that are relevant for a specific business process or transaction be stored in a blockchain. By recording non-relevant data in a blockchain, we would soon hit data size and performance issues.

Ideas to ignite thinking in specific industries

  • The digital, “blockchained” physical asset (asset lifecycle management): No matter whether you build, use, or maintain an asset, such as a machine, a piece of equipment, a turbine, or a whole aircraft, a blockchain transaction (genesis block) can be created when the asset is created. The blockchain will contain all the contracts and information for the asset as a whole and its parts. In this scenario, an entry is made in the blockchain every time an asset is: sold; maintained by the producer or owner’s maintenance team; audited by a third-party auditor; has malfunctioning parts; sends or receives information from sensors; meets specific thresholds; has spare parts built in; requires a change to the purpose or the capability of the assets due to age or usage duration; receives (or doesn’t receive) payments; etc.
  • The delivery chain, bill of lading: In today’s world, shipping freight from A to B involves lots of manual steps. For example, a carrier receives a booking from a shipper or forwarder, confirms it, and, before the document cut-off time, receives the shipping instructions describing the content and how the master bill of lading should be created. The carrier creates the original bill of lading and hands it over to the ordering party (the current owner of the cargo). Today, that original paper-based bill of lading is required for the freight (the container) to be picked up at the destination (the port of discharge). Imagine if we could do this as a blockchain transaction and by forwarding a PDF by email. There would be one transaction at the beginning, when the shipping carrier creates the bill of lading. Then there would be look-ups, e.g., by the import and release processing clerk of the shipper at the port of discharge and the new owner of the cargo at the destination. Then another transaction could document that the container had been handed over.

The future

I personally believe in the massive transformative power of blockchain, even though we are just at the very beginning. This transformation will be achieved by looking at larger networks with many participants that all have a nearly equal part in a process. Today, many blockchain ideas still have a more centralistic approach, in which one company has a more prominent role than the (many) others and often is “managing” this blockchain/distributed ledger-supported process/approach.

But think about the delivery scenario today, where goods are shipped from one door or company to another door or company, across many parties in the delivery chain: from the shipper/producer via the third-party logistics service provider and/or freight forwarder; to the companies doing the actual transport, like vessels, trucks, aircraft, trains, cars, ferries, and so on; to the final destination/receiver. And all of this happens across many countries, many borders, many handovers, customs, etc., and involves a lot of paperwork, across all constituents.

“Blockchaining” this will be truly transformational. But it will need all constituents in the process or network to participate, even if they have different interests, and to agree on basic principles and an approach.

As Torsten Zube put it, I am not a “blockchain extremist” nor a denier that believes this is just a hype, but a realist open to embracing a new technology in order to change our processes for our collective benefit.

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Juergen Roehricht

About Juergen Roehricht

Juergen Roehricht is General Manager of Services Industries and Innovation Lead of the Middle and Eastern Europe region for SAP. The industries he covers include travel and transportation; professional services; media; and engineering, construction and operations. Besides managing the business in those segments, Juergen is focused on supporting innovation and digital transformation strategies of SAP customers. With more than 20 years of experience in IT, he stays up to date on the leading edge of innovation, pioneering and bringing new technologies to market and providing thought leadership. He has published several articles and books, including Collaborative Business and The Multi-Channel Company.