In a series of meetings with world leaders, SAP CEO Bill McDermott is advocating partnership between governments and business leaders to help make the world a better place to live.

There’s a new challenge on the global table, and it is a bold one: to ensure prosperity for all by 2030. This ambitious target is among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals defined by the United Nations in order to transform the world’s economy, society, and environment.

The goals, which have been adopted by 193 world leaders, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. But the task is so enormous that it may be too big for nations to tackle alone. Tackling these global-scale challenges requires a coordinated effort between private and public organizations.

Over the past four weeks, SAP CEO Bill McDermott has met with four Heads of State, including the German Chancellor and presidents of France, the European Commission, and United States. Among the topics under discussion were how to make the world run better and how technology can help achieve the UN goals. Innovation can solve some of the societal challenges that policymakers are trying to address via legislation, regulation, and cooperation.

SAP is uniquely positioned to help policymakers improve the economy, environment, and society

It’s not often that a corporate CEO has such a prominent seat at the table of public policy. But helping the world run better and improving people’s lives is SAP’s enduring cause and higher purpose – it is part of SAP’s DNA.

SAP has a long-standing tradition of civic engagement. Its involvement in the political process and global public policy debate is a natural extension of its core values. The company works with governments, others in its industry, and the broader business community to advocate for public policies that support its goals. At the forefront of the transformation to the digital economy, SAP is uniquely positioned to work hand-in-hand with global policymakers to improve the economy, the environment, and the society through technology.

No Time to Wait

During the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT) held earlier this month, McDermott addressed German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, and Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission. His message was clear: There’s no time to wait. Increasing digitization is crucial to bolstering economic growth and social development, and leaders need to act quickly. Accelerating ideas and working together is the only path forward.

The digital economy offers an unprecedented opportunity to bring private and public sector together, because there is a direct link between a region’s digital adoption and its overall economic competitiveness.

“An opportunity of this magnitude is more than just a benefit. It’s a necessity. As we think about the right approach to guide the world’s future, boosting digital adoption and investing in people is the path forward,” said McDermott.

SAP provides software and services that can drive the digital transformation of businesses, governments, and charities across 190 countries. These products and services, combined with the talent and expertise of 80,000 employees, and the unmatched global reach of its customers and partners, put SAP in a unique position to fulfill its purpose.

The Future of Innovation

Digitization brings new opportunities for innovation and for the deployment of new technologies. There’s no prosperity on a global scale without innovation. During the White House Frontiers Conference, hosted this month by President Barack Obama, thought leaders explored the future of innovation around the world, discussing new technologies, challenges, and goals that will continue to shape the 21st century and beyond. Top innovators from Google, SpaceX, leading research facilities, and universities attended the event co-hosted by Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh.

SAP is continuously investing in new areas of innovation to provide customers, partners, and consumers with the tools they need to have an impact. Advances in technologies like IoT, connected health, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain enable companies and organizations to tackle some of the world’s most complex, intractable problems. In addition, the breakthrough technology of SAP S/4HANA has changed ERP from a system of record to a system of innovation with endless opportunities.


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People First

“Innovation starts with people,” stresses McDermott. The new frontlines in science and technology that will shape the future and help improve lives require a workforce that is not only prepared to address the world’s most pressing challenges, but also to develop cutting-edge technologies that will push nations forward. “SAP has embraced the view that training workers for a digital economy is our corporate responsibility. Going further, we believe that leading companies have a moral obligation to initiate people into the modern economy, regardless of where they come from.”

Investing in education is the first step to bridge the severe and widespread digital skills gaps. Youth unemployment affects 5 million people in Europe alone, while nearly 1 million jobs in technology face challenges to be filled for the lack of necessary skills. In the U.S., 6 million American youth are also out of a job, while 32 percent of employers reported facing difficulties filling openings in 2015.

Governments and businesses need to further cooperate on building citizen trust and addressing this gap. Initiatives like openSAP, which offers free massive open online courses (MOOCs) to millions, go a long way in preparing the workforce of the future. The SAP University Alliances program engages more than 2,900 institutions in 103 countries to shape the future of higher education. Extending on the success of the program, the company is investing in SAP Next-Gen Lab locations, spaces to foster connections among students and faculty from multiple universities, startups, innovation experts, and SAP partners.

SAP has made significant progress toward realizing the vision set in 2010: to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. Recognition for these efforts came when the RadleyYeldar Fit for Purpose Index of the top 100 most purposeful brands in the world was announced recently. SAP’s #20 ranking positions it as the top technology company on the index — ahead of HP, Microsoft, Cisco, Google, IBM, and Facebook.

As many brands struggle to sustain their social purpose commitments, SAP is demonstrating that it is ready to play its part in helping to meet the UN’s sustainability goals, and is answering the call to action to globally transform the economy, society, and the environment.