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Your Best Brand Advocates: Employees With Passion

Olesya Tarasenko

When I think about developing brand advocates, customers are the ones who most often come to mind. However, after reading a recent blog post from one of my millennial peers, I was reminded of how important it is to have your most passionate employees serve as ambassadors of the purpose of your business as well. After all, they are the most organic sources of your brand promotion, both within and outside of your organization—especially if you are a purpose-driven company.

Why passion at work matters

To understand this concept better, let’s look at why passion at work matters and how that ties into purpose. Here are a few reasons why it is important to help your employees to find passion in every aspect of their lives, including their work and career:

  • Passion triggers personal and professional growth. When people follow their passion, I believe they automatically become growth-oriented and naturally tend to take on more challenging tasks. The achievement of tasks leads to greater success, both personally and professionally.
  • Passionate people strive to be their best. When passion inspires people, they work harder because they are more personally involved. This also seems to motivate them to make things happen even when a situation seems impossible.
  • Passion teaches people to tolerate uncertainty and discomfort. When people are inspired, they can tolerate a lot more ambiguity and insecurity.

More and more, passion is a quality that many dynamic companies now want to encourage in their employees. And when the passion is fired up in employees, the logical next step is to encourage them to turn that passion into projects that support a company’s purpose.

Turn passion into value

Back in 2010, Steve Jobs said Apple’s core value was the belief that people with passion can change the world for the better. He essentially was talking about purpose-driven marketing and how employees’ passions can make a difference in a company.

So how can you encourage passion in your company? Here are three simple steps you can take:

  1. Learn about your employees’ passions. Understanding what your employees are passionate about helps managers get to know them better on a more personal level. This in turn can lead to conversations that are more individually tailored and meaningful for employees.
  1. Develop a “driver profile” for each employee. Creating a profile of what drives your employees can help you quickly see where their passions can align with your company’s purpose.
  1. Launch “find your passion” programs within your organization. Once you understand what drives your employees, you can help them create “passion projects” that would interest them and nourish your company’s purpose. 

What are passion projects? They are simply projects that people feel excited about working on because they align with their own passions and purpose. For example, an Autism at Work program within your company would be a great passion project for someone who has an autistic child. Or Back-to-Work initiatives could encourage women who have returned to the workforce after having children help others who are just starting that process.

These are brilliant ways to encourage your employees to build a connection with your company’s purpose. These projects may be outside of the typical scope of a position or job responsibilities, but they are still aligned with the big-picture objectives of your organization.

Passion creates more passion

When employees are connected to a company’s purpose through passion projects at work, the sources that feed your company’s purpose initiatives multiply, creating a long-lasting natural source of nourishment. And when you encourage your employees to link their passions with meaningful projects at work, you start to build stronger connections between them and your company.

In essence, it is pretty simple: Make employees’ passions a priority of your business and you will soon find your business’s purpose among your employees’ priorities.

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.

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Olesya Tarasenko

About Olesya Tarasenko

Olesya Tarasenko is an HR Early Talent at SAP, currently finishing her final rotation in the HR Operations, Cloud Services, team in Prague, Czech Republic. With her multicultural background and diverse HR experiences, including international, Olesya aims to promote personal and professional development and help employees reach their full potential at work. Olesya holds a Master’s degree in Human Resource Development from Villanova University in Pennsylvania and is passionate about continuous learning, innovation, and simplification.

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.

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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

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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.


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How Digital Transformation Is Rewriting Business Models

Ginger Shimp

Everybody knows someone who has a stack of 3½-inch floppies in a desk drawer “just in case we may need them someday.” While that might be amusing, the truth is that relatively few people are confident that they’re making satisfactory progress on their digital journey. The boundaries between the digital and physical worlds continue to blur — with profound implications for the way we do business. Virtually every industry and every enterprise feels the effects of this ongoing digital transformation, whether from its own initiative or due to pressure from competitors.

What is digital transformation? It’s the wholesale reimagining and reinvention of how businesses operate, enabled by today’s advanced technology. Businesses have always changed with the times, but the confluence of technologies such as mobile, cloud, social, and Big Data analytics has accelerated the pace at which today’s businesses are evolving — and the degree to which they transform the way they innovate, operate, and serve customers.

The process of digital transformation began decades ago. Think back to how word processing fundamentally changed the way we write, or how email transformed the way we communicate. However, the scale of transformation currently underway is drastically more significant, with dramatically higher stakes. For some businesses, digital transformation is a disruptive force that leaves them playing catch-up. For others, it opens to door to unparalleled opportunities.

Upending traditional business models

To understand how the businesses that embrace digital transformation can ultimately benefit, it helps to look at the changes in business models currently in process.

Some of the more prominent examples include:

  • A focus on outcome-based models — Open the door to business value to customers as determined by the outcome or impact on the customer’s business.
  • Expansion into new industries and markets — Extend the business’ reach virtually anywhere — beyond strictly defined customer demographics, physical locations, and traditional market segments.
  • Pervasive digitization of products and services — Accelerate the way products and services are conceived, designed, and delivered with no barriers between customers and the businesses that serve them.
  • Ecosystem competition — Create a more compelling value proposition in new markets through connections with other companies to enhance the value available to the customer.
  • Access a shared economy — Realize more value from underutilized sources by extending access to other business entities and customers — with the ability to access the resources of others.
  • Realize value from digital platforms — Monetize the inherent, previously untapped value of customer relationships to improve customer experiences, collaborate more effectively with partners, and drive ongoing innovation in products and services,

In other words, the time-tested assumptions about how to identify customers, develop and market products and services, and manage organizations may no longer apply. Every aspect of business operations — from forecasting demand to sourcing materials to recruiting and training staff to balancing the books — is subject to this wave of reinvention.

The question is not if, but when

These new models aren’t predictions of what could happen. They’re already realities for innovative, fast-moving companies across the globe. In this environment, playing the role of late adopter can put a business at a serious disadvantage. Ready or not, digital transformation is coming — and it’s coming fast.

Is your company ready for this sea of change in business models? At SAP, we’ve helped thousands of organizations embrace digital transformation — and turn the threat of disruption into new opportunities for innovation and growth. We’d relish the opportunity to do the same for you. Our Digital Readiness Assessment can help you see where you are in the journey and map out the next steps you’ll need to take.

Up next I’ll discuss the impact of digital transformation on processes and work. Until then, you can read more on how digital transformation is impacting your industry.

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Ginger Shimp

About Ginger Shimp

With more than 20 years’ experience in marketing, Ginger Shimp has been with SAP since 2004. She has won numerous awards and honors at SAP, including being designated “Top Talent” for two consecutive years. Not only is she a Professional Certified Marketer with the American Marketing Association, but she's also earned her Connoisseur's Certificate in California Reds from the Chicago Wine School. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of San Francisco, and an MBA in marketing and managerial economics from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. Personally, Ginger is the proud mother of a precocious son and happy wife of one of YouTube's 10 EDU Gurus, Ed Shimp.