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SAP and the Future of Civic Engagement

August 1, 2016 by Courtney Robinson 41

At SAP’s We the Future Summit, CEO Bill McDermott spoke with influencers about technology and citizenship.

In a year that has already featured a dramatic Brexit campaign in the U.K., an attempted military coup in Turkey and a highly publicized presidential race in the U.S., civic activism is more than a hot conversation topic.

Enter SAP, which last week hosted the first ever We the Future Summit at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Moderated by SAP employee Kristen Kibby, the evening town hall event featured comments from McDermott, actor Kal Penn, former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, and several elected Members of the U.S. Congress.

 

While the event was not aligned to a specific political agenda, it took place only minutes away from the U.S. Democratic Party’s national convention, where Hillary Clinton was nominated for president.

SAP’s @BillRMcDermott: The true measure of a leader isn’t what we take from this world, it’s what we give back

When asked why it makes sense for the business software market leader to focus on empowering a new generation of civic activism, McDermott had this to say: “We’re about helping the world run better and improving people’s lives. We know better than anyone how technology is unleashing Big Data to change the way businesses serve their end consumers. Is there a better opportunity in the world than to help people understand how they can be more informed citizens? I’m proud that SAP has a big heart and that we care about the kind of world we leave for the generations that follow. This is what it means to be a market leader.”

For their part, the other panelists and speakers at the event echoed McDermott’s sentiment about technology and citizenship. The discussion focused on topics ranging from the digital divide to economic disparities and youth unemployment. While hosted in the U.S., the event took on a distinctly global flavor as participants engaged from around the world via social media.

McDermott summed things up: “We have to be generous with our expertise and our groundbreaking new architecture. Every leader – from Berlin to Beijing to Washington – wants people from every generation and every background to be active in the public debate. SAP needs to step forward because the true measure of a leader isn’t what we take from this world, it’s what we give back.”

SAP is currently exploring holding additional We the Future Summit events over the remainder of 2016 and in 2017. Check out the online discussion on Twitter with the hashtag #WeTheFuture.

Video by Renata Pompeu Pividal and Kesja Cichowski.

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