Transforming Our World For The Better With Data

Bernd Leukert

As the software industry leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI), SAP clearly takes seriously its purpose of helping the world to run better and improving people’s lives. For us, sustainability is a win-win – a positive change that is good for both business and the world. It is not a program or a department; it’s part of our DNA, woven into every element of our business from sustainable procurement to the fact that our cloud is powered by 100% renewable energy.

With every goal we set, data and data management, analysis, and application are key to its realization. Informed decision-making requires reliable, accurate data. This is as true for the business world as it is for any other. From governments to charities, data collection, data management, and data sharing drive life-changing (and sometimes even life-saving) choices and are very powerful forces for good.

A global priority

In 2015, the United Nations (UN) launched a set of 17 sustainable development goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon recognized the important role technology plays in achieving these goals, calling for a “data revolution” and urging all stakeholders to work together to help create innovative solutions to achieve sustainable development.

SAP is committed to supporting the UN sustainable development goals. Our employees’ dedication to this cause, combined with an extensive business network and powerful data management platform, enables us to support, pursue, and realize these objectives in many different projects and initiatives around the world. Our data strategy and solutions play a significant role in enabling both ourselves and our customers to be smarter, safer, and healthier.

Last year, for example, we announced a joint initiative with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to focus on the development of an innovative platform to monitor, manage, and report on the sustainable development goals and their industry-related targets. Furthermore, as a member of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, we work with governments, the private sector, and other nonprofit organizations to drive technology projects that help protect and improve the world’s environment as well as the health and well-being of its citizens.

Tackling big problems with Big Data

The sheer breadth of data and the wealth of knowledge it can provide make it extremely powerful. But data alone is obviously not enough: We also need the tools to turn this information into meaningful insights. A powerful data foundation built on SAP technology is the unifying data management layer that enables secure, governed, enterprise-class applications and data analytics by providing an open, hybrid, and multi-cloud-enabled solution suite that orchestrates all needed data into a trusted, unified landscape. It’s this ability to combine diverse sources of data that can lead to exciting new solutions to some of the world’s toughest challenges.

Take, for example, the combination of geospatial data stored in a geographic information system (GIS) with data from the Internet of Things, sensor data, and data from an ERP system. The result is the ability to form data visualizations that make complex relationships significantly more understandable, revealing historical changes and trends and even predicting the future.

In February, we took our long-standing partnership with Esri to the next level by announcing that this global leader in GIS and spatial analytics now supports SAP HANA as a certified enterprise geodatabase. At the SAP + Esri Hackathon held just a few weeks later, the winning teams demonstrated how they used spatial analytics to help support clean energy, save lives, and improve the quality of our water supply. In a recent article, Esri also explained how it is using SAP HANA and GIS to tackle one of the biggest health-related problems in the United States by helping communities across the country identify where and how opioid usage is at its worst. This way, they can use data in their decision-making processes to better allocate resources to prevent and/or mitigate addiction.

Climate change in focus

The UN’s 13th goal is to “take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.” At an individual level, there are many small steps we can do to support this objective. For organizations, too, there are numerous ways to get involved and make a difference – not least in the world of technology. From the creation of innovative new data-driven solutions to engagement in data philanthropy, organizations from across the public and private sector are coming come together to make a difference and drive climate action.

The United Nations Global Pulse innovation initiative, for example, partners with experts from UN agencies, governments, academia, and business to explore and promote approaches for the application of data to solve some of the most pressing global challenges. This includes the Data for Climate Action challenge, which brings together data and technical expertise from the private sector with teams of researchers to find new climate-related insights. The winning team used various data sets to evaluate ways to reduce emissions in Mexico City, one of the most congested cities in the world.

The SAP Innovation Awards also showcase the impact innovations can have on our environment and well being. These awards highlight the incredible achievements our customers have made using SAP platform technologies. This year’s entry from nonprofit tech startup Rainforest Connection shows how SAP HANA, SAP Cloud Platform, and SAP Analytics Cloud can be used to predict illegal deforestation to save the rainforest, meaning loggers can be stopped before they can even start. And since illegal logging accounts for 50%-90% of all forestry activities in key producer tropical forests, this solution has the potential to make a huge difference.

Making a difference, everywhere

As illustrated by Gustave Roussy, this year’s SAP Innovation Award winning entry in the Social Hero category, it’s obviously not just climate-change action that benefits from the insights provided by real-time data analysis. Using the SAP Connected Health platform and SAP Medical Research Insights, leading cancer-research institute Gustave Roussy can analyze both genomic and clinical data in real time, allowing it to pursue evidence-based treatment paths that offer better outcomes. Not only is this groundbreaking work revolutionizing how the organization provides research, it also helps oncologists diagnose cancer types more quickly and offer personalized patient care.

The examples go on and on. From collecting data to support gender equality to using data to protect wildlife, data-driven solutions are changing the world. And as technology develops, so do the possibilities to make an even more positive global impact. In this case, knowledge is not just power; it’s potential. We are proud to support the data revolution and the UN’s sustainable development goals by bringing SAP HANA innovations to the next level.

Learn more about how SAP is helping companies become the best run.

Explore SAP’s commitment to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

This blog originally appeared on the SAP HANA blog and is republished by permission.

Bernd Leukert

About Bernd Leukert

Bernd Leukert is a member of the Executive Board of SAP SE with global responsibility for development and delivery of all products across SAP’s product portfolio.