Sections

Why Millennials Care About Purpose-Driven Business

Sam Yeoman

Today’s tumultuous economy makes running any successful business seem like a herculean task. Yet a new wave of purpose-driven businesses are not simply surviving, they are thriving despite a fickle economy.

So who’s helping some of the most purpose-driven enterprises become wildly successful while others have shriveled up and withered away? Who cares about purpose-driven business and why? Who should businesses target in order to engage the most potential consumers in 2017?

One of the answers lies with the generation that recently passed the Baby Boomers as the most populous one on the planet: millennials.

The coveted consumer

I am a millennial. My generation is also known as Generation Y, Echo Boomer, or Generation ME. The world likes to describe me as an easily distracted, politically correct, civic-minded, creative narcissistic who wants a trophy just for showing up. I am supposedly a seeker of the authentic and an entitled “adult” who was born between the years of 1981-1997.

These labels are often slapped on anyone who looks relatively young, and they distract from what my generation really is all about and our unique position in the today’s economy. The reality is that millennials are currently the largest generation in the world’s workforce, and with the New Year looming, we are projected to have the most spending power of any generation in 2017.

So where are millennials spending all their hard-earned money and why? Millennials support companies that commit to a higher purpose and are more inclined to buy from a brand that stands on a foundation of corporate responsibility. For instance, 87% of millennials say that they base their purchasing decisions on whether or not a company makes positive social efforts.

Therefore, we are more likely to shop at natural or organic grocery stores like Whole Foods than at supermarkets or wholesale warehouses. We prefer to choose a transparent farm-to-table restaurant to chains like Sizzler or Houlihan’s. We train for months and pay for entry into grueling marathons, but only if there is a just cause attached. (Why would we subject ourselves to something that requires anti-chaffing nipple tape unless it was for a good cause?)

Here’s our “why”

To truly understand why we are the way we are you need to know what we fear, what we love, and what stokes the coals that fuel our motivations and ignite our passions.

First, we grew up watching our parents hang up on countless telemarketers, so we quickly became wary of anyone trying to sell us something. Our aversion to being scammed transformed us into wannabe rent-a-sleuths, fact-checking every word until our collective thumbs tired out.

Second, we are the first generation to be raised with portals to unlimited information in our pockets, able to Google anything dubious on a whim. We’ve been programmed to seek out sources of truth and spend our days seeking transparency above all else.

And finally, we watched our parents’ savings and retirement funds crumble during the worst economic collapse in U.S. history since the Great Depression. And we nervously bit our nails, trying to comprehend how we could feasibly dig ourselves out of student loan debt as we walked the plank of graduation, diving headfirst into a struggling job market. Watching the hit our parents took while transitioning into the workforce during the Great Recession trained our generation to be frugal with our money and made us question our spending habits. 

All of these experiences are universally millennial as well as crucially formative to shaping the psyche of our generation. 

Finding our purpose

Above all, I must say that we are a generation that was taught to question our world, and man, if our teachers could see us now. And although it might make my generation seem difficult to deal with, we can only shrug and respond that we are simply products of our respective environments, experiences, and upbringings.

The constant search for authenticity and truth is one of the fundamental reasons why I believe we gravitate – both personally and professionally – toward purpose-driven businesses. While many of us are still searching for our purpose in this wild world, we support and respect any enterprise that pursues a purpose as relentlessly and as passionately as we do each and every day.

We are attracted to businesses that have the audacity to puff their chests out and show their true positive purpose for all to see. Fortunately, companies like SAP are already flexing their purpose muscles – and millennials like me are taking notice.

This blog is part of our Millennials on Purpose series. To learn more about SAP’s higher purpose to help the world run better and improve people’s lives, visit sap.com/purpose.

Comments

Sam Yeoman

About Sam Yeoman

Sam Yeoman is a millennial who engages in purpose-driven marketing for SAP. He is an overall wordsmith with a background in journalism and digital advertising. Sam does everything from curating the purpose and vision section of the SAP Web site to creating engaging Web content with unique perspectives.

From Foe To Friend: How AI Can Boost Purpose

Thomas Leisen

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to a broad concept of machines that are able to carry out tasks in a way that we consider “smart.” Self-driving cars, lip-reading apps, and interactive robots already are examples that tend to fascinate people – but they also can frighten us.

Let’s face it – AI is not only one of the next big things in technology innovation, it is also one of the scariest!

The fear has been building…

For decades, popular movies have addressed humans’ fear that someday machines – like the infamous Terminator cyborg, or Sonny, the robotic murder suspect from I, Robot – could be as smart as, or smarter than, people are. No wonder as the use of AI becomes more commonplace, that fear continues to grow.

And it’s not only outside observers who are concerned. Many thought leaders from around the globe share their apprehension about the general principles behind AI. For instance, Nick Bostrom, director of the Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University, shared his insights in a recent article on people’s worries about AI. “The transition to machine superintelligence is a very grave matter,” he notes, “and we should take seriously the possibility that things could go radically wrong.”

There are also grave concerns about AI taking jobs away from people who need them. In the article, Julian Togelius, computer science professor at New York University, says, “I am worried about the impact on employment as more and more niches are filled by technology.”

I share this concern. As a millennial beginning my career and just finishing my master’s studies, I sometimes fear that computers may better fit for the jobs I want to pursue. 

Can AI help more than it hurts?

It’s no wonder that many companies experience resistance from their employees when they try to implement AI technology such as machine learning. But perhaps there is another approach companies can take – one that is more respectful and helpful to employees.

The answer may simply be this: When implementing AI into your business, connect these initiatives to your company’s purpose.

When AI takes over the repetitive work of your employees, they will have more quality time to concentrate on other tasks – and one of these tasks could be finding new ways to contribute to the higher purpose of your company. For instance, rather than repetitively assembling parts on a factory floor, your employees could spend time thinking about how to improve overall processes. From this perspective, AI gives your employees a better chance to really make an impact. And it can be even more impactful if this opportunity is communicated by your CEO and top managers.

Think of it this way: Implementing AI in your businesses simply to reduce human resources for repetitive work without discussing your strategy with your employees will backfire. It is a bit like taking a coloring book from your kids without telling them why, and expecting them to be happy about it. However, if you give them a blank canvas and watercolors, and explain to them that they can be creative and paint whatever they want, they won’t complain about the lost coloring book.

From foe to friend

When you replace people’s responsibilities with AI technology, you can make AI a friend rather than a foe by communicating effectively with affected employees. Position AI as an opportunity for growth rather than a reduction of responsibilities. This approach offers employees the opportunity to develop new skills and make a greater contribution to the company, which in turn will boost their sense of value and self-worth.

This approach will help your company position AI not as a job-taker, but as a source of freedom for your employees. And it will help your employees see that they have the opportunity to concentrate on issues that are not only important to them, but to your company as well.

This blog is part of our Millennials on Purpose series. To learn more about the higher purpose of SAP to help the world run better and improve people’s lives, visit sap.com/purpose.

Comments

Thomas Leisen

About Thomas Leisen

Thomas Leisen is a millennial and master student working in HR at SAP. In his role, he creates insights into the heart-beat of the organization through employee surveys and assessments. In one of his internal research projects, he analyzed the communication effectiveness of millennials versus other generations with regards to modern communication channels. He is an expert in data-driven insights, business and communication psychology, and generation research (especially millennials). Leisen is also supporting purpose-driven marketing at SAP.

Why Companies Of The Future Need Purpose [VIDEO]

Florian Kunzke

“Purpose” is the new star in the economic cosmos. But what impact will this new orientation have on workers and on software development?

Just imagine it: the fifth day of your work week entirely at your disposal. You could start working on the project that you’ve always dreamed of. You could get involved in social initiatives while drawing on support and resources from your employer. Or perhaps you’d like to spend time with friends and family, or simply be all by yourself.

It sounds too good to be true, right? Not at IXDS. The Berlin-based design and innovation agency believes in a 32-hour week and envisions total employee flexibility, as wellas a company organization free from hierarchies. And it’s proven to be quite a success. For more than 10 years, IXDS has been working with its customers – including startups and DAX companies – on future scenarios, innovative products, and novel services.

Nancy Birkhölzer, CEO at IXDS, recently participated in the first SAP Research Round Table hosted in the Data Space in Berlin, alongside other representatives from industry, academia, politics, and associations. The panel discussed how digitalization is shaping the social, economic, and ecological framework, and how this could impact people, companies, and the world of work. The panel also discussed what software providers like SAP need to do to not only meet the challenges of this dynamic environment, but to actively shape it.

With these challenges in mind, the organizational team under Norbert Koppenhagen, head of research at the SAP Innovation Center Network, selected the new location, in which SAP collaborates with startups and maintains its network in Berlin thanks to a fresh event and design concept. The array of topics was as vibrant as the participants present. Discussions included the new leadership culture, alternative organizational forms, people-centered service systems, solopreneurship, as well as purpose activation in companies. Why purpose activation? At the end of the day, companies all have one purpose: to generate revenue, right?

Click to enlarge

No place for empty words without actions

For Markus Heinen, chief innovation officer at EY and keynote speaker at the round table, it’s certainly not all about revenue. In the future, companies that are aware of their social impact will make all the difference: “Companies need to follow a purpose. Purpose is an aspirational reason for being that is grounded in humanity and inspires action,” he explains.

At first, it may sound rather philosophical, having little to do with economic success. Yet social responsibility and having a credible brand promise have become key differentiating factors for companies. Thanks to Big Data, real-time reporting, and digital discussion platforms, people are constantly connected and up-to-date.

“There is no place for empty words without actions. Companies without a purpose will fail to keep pace. Only when all performance factors are rigorously targeted towards that purpose is the concept able to bring genuine added value,” affirms Markus.

But what does this all mean for employees? At IXDS, for instance, this is how the company conceives the future of work: Success is measured by how the results contribute to the company’s purpose. For each project, the team decides on a project purpose, which is both derived from the overall purpose and specified for the project-related deliverables. How the employees wish to achieve this is left up to them. And the same for how long they wish to work on it.

“We don’t want to assess our employees based on the number of hours they work anymore. We also don’t want to pay them based on their position. Everyone should assume a role in the project based on where they think they can make the best contribution. In future, we like to assess colleagues based on their impact, their value contribution,” Birkhölzer explains.

Dedication to the future of work

This example shows how it is increasingly important for companies to identify and manage non-monetary assets, such as knowledge, innovativeness, teamwork, and value-oriented conduct. Today, these factors account for 80% of a company’s value. Enterprise software must therefore be able to map not just financial metrics, but also intangible assets. It is precisely these issues that Günter Pecht-Seibert and his team from SAP Innovation Center Network are looking to focus on – in the new “Future of Work” focus area.

Günter explains his team’s ambitions as follows: “We want to develop cloud-based solutions that improve employee engagement and well-being, increase companies’ brand value, and accelerate genuine knowledge work. As a first step, we plan to help companies activate their purpose. Our long-term goal is to support companies who have not yet ventured this far, and help them transform into a purpose-led organization.”

The first two solutions are planned to be launched in 2017 with Knowledge Workspace and People Insights. A complete software suite will follow later.

The same applies for the next research round table session. The event was well received by all participants, and triggered many constructive talks. The result of the round table was the identification of promising research topics that the Research & Innovation Team from the SAP Innovation Center Network would like to tackle, and refine in additional workshops. The overarching goal: to help the world run better and improve people’s lives – yes, SAP has also defined its purpose.

Five things to know about the future of work

The experts who participated at the round table discussed many interesting topics. Here are the five key takeaways:

  1. Companies should dedicate themselves to a purpose that can be globally integrated in the company, and pursued consistently.
  2. The health and well-being of employees is the way forward to a company’s success. Recognizing, measuring, and managing these factors is a key challenge for companies.
  3. Employees must have the opportunity for lifelong learning, which corresponds to their interests, and is useful, orchestrated logically, and independent from their current employer.
  4. In the future, organizational structures will be less based on hierarchies, but rather on decentralized networks, which push beyond company boundaries, and create added value.
  5. This means that companies will need software tools that can be adapted as required. The applications of the future will enable flexible problem solving, make collective knowledge accessible in organizations, and allow companies to combine data from various internal and external systems.

For more insight on fostering a culture of purpose at your business, see 5 Ways To Become A Better Purpose-Driven Leader

Comments

Florian Kunzke

About Florian Kunzke

Florian Kunzke is responsible for Integrated Communication in the SAP Innovation Center Network. As part of his role, he drives messaging for ICN projects, creates innovation stories and orchestrates internal communication activities. Before joining the company, he has been advising companies in the fields of corporate, change and internal communication. Florian holds an M.A. in Intercultural Communication Studies.

The Future of Cybersecurity: Trust as Competitive Advantage

Justin Somaini and Dan Wellers

 

The cost of data breaches will reach US$2.1 trillion globally by 2019—nearly four times the cost in 2015.

Cyberattacks could cost up to $90 trillion in net global economic benefits by 2030 if cybersecurity doesn’t keep pace with growing threat levels.

Cyber insurance premiums could increase tenfold to $20 billion annually by 2025.

Cyberattacks are one of the top 10 global risks of highest concern for the next decade.


Companies are collaborating with a wider network of partners, embracing distributed systems, and meeting new demands for 24/7 operations.

But the bad guys are sharing intelligence, harnessing emerging technologies, and working round the clock as well—and companies are giving them plenty of weaknesses to exploit.

  • 33% of companies today are prepared to prevent a worst-case attack.
  • 25% treat cyber risk as a significant corporate risk.
  • 80% fail to assess their customers and suppliers for cyber risk.

The ROI of Zero Trust

Perimeter security will not be enough. As interconnectivity increases so will the adoption of zero-trust networks, which place controls around data assets and increases visibility into how they are used across the digital ecosystem.


A Layered Approach

Companies that embrace trust as a competitive advantage will build robust security on three core tenets:

  • Prevention: Evolving defensive strategies from security policies and educational approaches to access controls
  • Detection: Deploying effective systems for the timely detection and notification of intrusions
  • Reaction: Implementing incident response plans similar to those for other disaster recovery scenarios

They’ll build security into their digital ecosystems at three levels:

  1. Secure products. Security in all applications to protect data and transactions
  2. Secure operations. Hardened systems, patch management, security monitoring, end-to-end incident handling, and a comprehensive cloud-operations security framework
  3. Secure companies. A security-aware workforce, end-to-end physical security, and a thorough business continuity framework

Against Digital Armageddon

Experts warn that the worst-case scenario is a state of perpetual cybercrime and cyber warfare, vulnerable critical infrastructure, and trillions of dollars in losses. A collaborative approach will be critical to combatting this persistent global threat with implications not just for corporate and personal data but also strategy, supply chains, products, and physical operations.


Download the executive brief The Future of Cybersecurity: Trust as Competitive Advantage.


Comments

Tags:

Unleash The Digital Transformation

Kadamb Goswami

The world has changed. We’ve seen massive disruption on multiple fronts – business model disruption, cybercrime, new devices, and an app-centric world. Powerful networks are crucial to success in a mobile-first, cloud-first world that’s putting an ever-increasing increasing amount of data at our fingertips. With the Internet of Things (IoT) we can connect instrumented devices worldwide and use new data to transform business models and products.

Disruption

Disruption comes in many forms. It’s not big or scary, it’s just another way of describing change and evolution. In the ’80s it manifested as call centers. Then, as the digital landscape began to take shape, it was the Internet, cloud computing … now it’s artificial intelligence (AI).

Digital transformation

Digital transformation means different things to different companies, but in the end I believe it will be a simple salvation that will carry us forward. If you Bing (note I worked for Microsoft for 15 years before experiencing digital transformation from the lens of the outside world), digital transformation, it says it’s “the profound and accelerating transformation of business activities, processes, competencies, and models to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of digital technologies and their impact across society in a strategic and prioritized way.” (I’ll simplify that; keep reading.)

A lot of today’s digital transformation ideas are ripped straight from the scripts of sci-fi entertainment, whether you’re talking about the robotic assistants of 2001: A Space Odyssey or artificial intelligence in the Star Trek series. We’re forecasting our future with our imagination. So, let’s move on to why digital transformation is needed in our current world.

Business challenges

The basic challenges facing businesses today are the same as they’ve always been: engaging customers, empowering employees, optimizing operations, and reinventing the value offered to customers. However, what has changed is the unique convergence of three things:

  1. Increasing volumes of data, particularly driven by the digitization of “things” and heightened individual mobility and collaboration
  1. Advancements in data analytics and intelligence to draw actionable insight from the data
  1. Ubiquity of cloud computing, which puts this disruptive power in the hands of organizations of all sizes, increasing the pace of innovation and competition

Digital transformation in plain English

Hernan Marino, senior vice president, marketing, & global chief operating officer at SAP, explains digital transformation by giving specific industry examples to make it simpler.

Automobile manufacturing used to be the work of assembly lines, people working side-by-side literally piecing together, painting, and churning out vehicles. It transitioned to automation, reducing costs and marginalizing human error. That was a business transformation. Now, we are seeing companies like Tesla and BMW incorporate technology into their vehicles that essentially make them computers on wheels. Cameras. Sensors. GPS. Self-driving vehicles. Syncing your smartphone with your car.

The point here is that companies need to make the upfront investments in infrastructure to take advantage of digital transformation, and that upfront investment will pay dividends in the long run as technological innovations abound. It is our job to collaboratively work with our customers to understand what infrastructure changes need to be made to achieve and take advantage of digital transformation.

Harman gives electric companies as another example. Remember a few years ago, when you used to go outside your house and see the little power meter spinning as it recorded the kilowatts you use? Every month, the meter reader would show up in your yard, record your usage, and report back to the electric company.

Most electric companies then made a business transformation and installed smart meters – eliminating the cost of the meter reader and integrating most homes into a smart grid that gave customers access to their real-time information. Now, as renewable energy evolves and integrates more fully into our lives, these same electric companies that switched over to smart meters are going to make additional investments to be able to analyze the data and make more informed decisions that will benefit both the company and its customers.

That is digital transformation. Obviously, banks, healthcare, entertainment, trucking, and e-commerce all have different needs than auto manufacturers and electric companies. It is up to us – marketers and account managers promoting digital transformation – to identify those needs and help our clients make the digital transformation as seamlessly as possible.

Digital transformation is more than just a fancy buzzword, it is our present and our future. It is re-envisioning existing business models and embracing a different way of bringing together people, data, and processes to create more for their customers through systems of intelligence.

Learn more about what it means to be a digital business.

Comments

Goswami Kadamb

About Goswami Kadamb

Kadamb is a Senior Program Manager at SAP where he is responsible for developing and executing strategic sales program with Concur SaaS portfolio. Prior to that he led several initiatives with Microsoft's Cloud & Enterprise business to enable Solution Sales & IaaS offerings.