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Saving The Environment Not Just Today, But Every Day

 Saving The Environment Not Just Today, But Every Day

As every year, millions across the globe celebrated World Environment Day on June 5. It is the United Nations’ flagship day for promoting worldwide awareness and action for the environment.

While it certainly is not enough to focus on the environment just one day a year (or maybe three days if you add Earth Day and Earth Overshoot Day), it is a good opportunity to rally governments, cities, businesses, other organizations, and citizens alike to remember that this planet is our joint home that we need to take care of – for our own sake as well as that of future generations.

All of us have a role to play in this. Businesses like SAP, however, have a unique part due to their reach and power to make a positive impact. We have the responsibility to stand for a higher purpose that goes beyond economic success. For SAP, this is to “help the world run better and improve people’s lives.” Together with our customers and numerous other organizations, we are working to bring this vision and purpose to life year-round and to jointly address the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

One of these Global Goals seems particularly relevant this World Environment Day: Goal #12, Sustainable Consumption & Production. This goal is critical to #BeatPlasticPollution, the theme of this year’s World Environment Day. If we want to solve the underlying root causes for plastic pollution in the mid- and long-term, we need to fundamentally change the way we produce and consume. It is not just about responsible sourcing or recycling – it’s about thinking through the full product lifecycle, from design to end of life (as I explained in my Earth Day blog a few weeks ago). With a shift towards a true circular economy, we could move towards products that keep plastic within the cycle – planning from the start for recycling and reuse as well as gradually reducing single-use plastic – and develop new, alternative/complementary, and more sustainable materials.

SAP has been exploring potential opportunities with its customers, including the recent SAP Plastics Challenge, to drive such purpose-driven innovation – a journey started but with a long way to go. The aim is not only to mitigate plastic pollution and extract the biggest value from a material mainly made from a finite virgin resource but also to meet increasingly strict regulatory environments, such as banning single-use plastics in the EU.

For many companies, like SAP, it starts with leading by example through our own business practices. For example, we have established a sustainable, end-to-end lifecycle management program for our IT equipment, which encompasses sustainable procurement practices, energy efficient operations, and IT reuse and recycling. However, the scale comes from enabling a base of 378,000 customers through our technology and solutions.

On an individual level, it might not always seem simple to find the strongest lever to make a difference. I encourage every leader to take the time and have this conversation with employees to help them understand what their contribution can be and where they should focus to have the biggest impact. This increases employee engagement. However, one size does not fit all.

During a recent coffee-corner dialogue I had with employees, I again recognized the value most people place on doing more at work than just earning profits. From our last employee survey, I know 93% say it is important that our company pursues sustainability, but in the face-to-face interaction, I could directly sense how strongly our colleagues want their employer and themselves to be sustainable and responsible.

At the beginning of the session, the ideas and questions that participants raised all grouped around generic actions each could take in the context of their daily work – such as how to commute, how to reduce and segregate waste in the office, how to print less, etc. They further voiced their expectation that single-use plastic would be eliminated, not only at our headquarters and other major locations but across all our sites, a goal our facilities teams are working toward.

After a while, the discussion evolved towards how individual employees could also play a part in the content of their work, such as by embedding sustainability features into our software solutions and services or engaging with customers around the adoption of sustainable business practices. It was highly rewarding to see it clicking with one colleague who works in industry development with retail customers. She got really excited when we explored together how the retail market is transforming and the way ever-higher consumer expectations are pushing retail companies to adapt and differentiate themselves by increasingly prioritizing sustainability and sustainable assortments.

The examples of Walmart, Lidl, and others finally made it tangible for this employee and laid out an entirely new space for her to make a contribution – something that would scale far beyond her comparatively low footprint. She never had thought about it that way, but she took away new inspiration to “help the world run better and improve people’s lives.” I was also reminded of how important it is to never cease engaging with people inside and outside SAP about what it takes to safeguard our environment and make every day a little World Environment Day.

SAP’s sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) focus is an outgrowth of our purpose to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. We believe social, environmental, and economic activities and performance are interrelated – each creating tangible impacts on the others.

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Bill Cosby Retrial To Begin Today

BillCosby Bill Cosby Retrial To Begin Today
Against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement, the sexual assault retrial of Bill Cosby will get underway Monday in suburban Philadelphia with a new jury, a new defense team, and a new cultural awareness of the slew of rich, powerful, and famous men who have been accused of sexual misconduct.

Cosby is — so far at least — the only major Hollywood entertainer to face a jury in this heated atmosphere, and the retrial is likely to serve as a bellwether of how the justice system deals with such accusations. The once-revered star is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault — he has pleaded not guilty.

Cosby’s first trial ended in June when a jury deadlocked on all charges after more than 50 hours of deliberations. He is now facing a new jury — seven men and five women — selected last week in Montgomery County, just outside of Philadelphia. Two of the jurors are black.

Opening statements are set for today, though a court filing late Friday could put a snag in the schedule. Defense lawyers asked the judge to replace one juror who, according to the defense motion, made it clear to other prospective jurors that he has “a fixed opinion about Mr. Cosby’s guilt in this case.”

They also asked for other jurors to be questioned about what they heard. The juror — identified only as Juror 11 — could be replaced by one of the six alternates also selected last week.

Cosby, now 80, is charged with drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, then the operations manager of Temple University’s women’s basketball team and now a massage therapist living in Canada. Cosby, a Temple alum who had been a major booster of the university, has maintained that their sexual encounter was consensual.

Constand is one of some 50 women who have accused the iconic comedian of drugging and then assaulting them — but she is the only one whose allegation became the focus of a criminal charge. The charges were filed just days before Pennsylvania’s 12-year statute of limitations was due to expire.

Though he was known as “America’s Dad” from his years on “The Cosby Show,” which aired from 1984 to 1992, his image crashed in 2014 as the women went public with their claims.

While the retrial is likely to be largely a repeat of the first trial, there are some key changes.

After the mistrial in June, Cosby switched lawyers. His team is now led by Los Angeles defense lawyer Tom Mesereau, who successfully defended Michael Jackson against child molestation charges back in 2005.

The retrial is likely to be longer — perhaps up to a month — and Cosby’s defense is expected to mount a more vigorous attack on the credibility of Constand, portraying her as a greedy and lying woman who framed Cosby to get a big-money civil settlement.

Last week, Judge Steven T. O’Neill ruled that the amount of that civil settlement, which has remained confidential for years, may be disclosed to the new jury. He also tentatively allowed the testimony of a woman who has told the defense that Constand once remarked that she could say she had been sexually assaulted by someone in order to get a financial settlement.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, are poised to call five other women who say that Cosby sexually assaulted them. In the first trial, the judge allowed only one other woman to testify.

But perhaps the biggest change of all is the cultural atmosphere created by the growing list of famous entertainment and media figures – including veteran Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein – whose careers have been derailed by allegations of sexual misconduct or harassment.

The big question, of course, is how that atmosphere will affect the outcome of the case against the once-beloved entertainer.

Tracee Ellis Ross, Tiffany Haddish, Yara Shahidi, Featured In New Single Released By Drake!

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The Humor Mill

Six New Tech Trends To Start Pursuing Today

Businesses share something important with lions. When a lion captures and consumes its prey, only about 10% to 20% of the prey’s energy is directly transferred into the lion’s metabolism. The rest evaporates away, mostly as heat loss, according to research done in the 1940s by ecologist Raymond Lindeman.

Today, businesses do only about as well as the big cats. When you consider the energy required to manage, power, and move products and services, less than 20% goes directly into the typical product or service—what economists call aggregate efficiency (the ratio of potential work to the actual useful work that gets embedded into a product or service at the expense of the energy lost in moving products and services through all of the steps of their value chains). Aggregate efficiency is a key factor in determining productivity.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image2 Six New Tech Trends To Start Pursuing TodayAfter making steady gains during much of the 20th century, businesses’ aggregate energy efficiency peaked in the 1980s and then stalled. Japan, home of the world’s most energy-efficient economy, has been skating along at or near 20% ever since. The U.S. economy, meanwhile, topped out at about 13% aggregate efficiency in the 1990s, according to research.

Why does this matter? Jeremy Rifkin says he knows why. Rifkin is an economic and social theorist, author, consultant, and lecturer at the Wharton School’s Executive Education program who believes that economies experience major increases in growth and productivity only when big shifts occur in three integrated infrastructure segments around the same time: communications, energy, and transportation.

But it’s only a matter of time before information technology blows all three wide open, says Rifkin. He envisions a new economic infrastructure based on digital integration of communications, energy, and transportation, riding atop an Internet of Things (IoT) platform that incorporates Big Data, analytics, and artificial intelligence. This platform will disrupt the world economy and bring dramatic levels of efficiency and productivity to businesses that take advantage of it,
he says.

Some economists consider Rifkin’s ideas controversial. And his vision of a new economic platform may be problematic—at least globally. It will require massive investments and unusually high levels of government, community, and private sector cooperation, all of which seem to be at depressingly low levels these days.

However, Rifkin has some influential adherents to his philosophy. He has advised three presidents of the European Commission—Romano Prodi, José Manuel Barroso, and the current president, Jean-Claude Juncker—as well as the European Parliament and numerous European Union (EU) heads of state, including Angela Merkel, on the ushering in of what he calls “a smart, green Third Industrial Revolution.” Rifkin is also advising the leadership of the People’s Republic of China on the build out and scale up of the “Internet Plus” Third Industrial Revolution infrastructure to usher in a sustainable low-carbon economy.

The internet has already shaken up one of the three major economic sectors: communications. Today it takes little more than a cell phone, an internet connection, and social media to publish a book or music video for free—what Rifkin calls zero marginal cost. The result has been a hollowing out of once-mighty media empires in just over 10 years. Much of what remains of their business models and revenues has been converted from physical (remember CDs and video stores?) to digital.

But we haven’t hit the trifecta yet. Transportation and energy have changed little since the middle of the last century, says Rifkin. That’s when superhighways reached their saturation point across the developed world and the internal-combustion engine came close to the limits of its potential on the roads, in the air, and at sea. “We have all these killer new technology products, but they’re being plugged into the same old infrastructure, and it’s not creating enough new business opportunities,” he says.

All that may be about to undergo a big shake-up, however. The digitalization of information on the IoT at near-zero marginal cost generates Big Data that can be mined with analytics to create algorithms and apps enabling ubiquitous networking. This digital transformation is beginning to have a big impact on the energy and transportation sectors. If that trend continues, we could see a metamorphosis in the economy and society not unlike previous industrial revolutions in history. And given the pace of technology change today, the shift could happen much faster than ever before.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image3 1024x572 Six New Tech Trends To Start Pursuing TodayThe speed of change is dictated by the increase in digitalization of these three main sectors; expensive physical assets and processes are partially replaced by low-cost virtual ones. The cost efficiencies brought on by digitalization drive disruption in existing business models toward zero marginal cost, as we’ve already seen in entertainment and publishing. According to research company Gartner, when an industry gets to the point where digital drives at least 20% of revenues, you reach the tipping point.

“A clear pattern has emerged,” says Peter Sondergaard, executive vice president and head of research and advisory for Gartner. “Once digital revenues for a sector hit 20% of total revenue, the digital bloodbath begins,” he told the audience at Gartner’s annual 2017 IT Symposium/ITxpo, according to The Wall Street Journal. “No matter what industry you are in, 20% will be the point of no return.”

Communications is already there, and energy and transportation are heading down that path. If they hit the magic 20% mark, the impact will be felt not just within those industries but across all industries. After all, who doesn’t rely on energy and transportation to power their value chains?

That’s why businesses need to factor potentially massive business model disruptions into their plans for digital transformation today if they want to remain competitive with organizations in early adopter countries like China and Germany. China, for example, is already halfway through an US$ 88 billion upgrade to its state electricity grid that will enable renewable energy transmission around the country—all managed and moved digitally, according to an article in The Economist magazine. And it is competing with the United States for leadership in self-driving vehicles, which will shift the transportation process and revenue streams heavily to digital, according to an article in Wired magazine.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image4 Six New Tech Trends To Start Pursuing TodayOnce China’s and Germany’s renewables and driverless infrastructures are in place, the only additional costs are management and maintenance. That could bring businesses in these countries dramatic cost savings over those that still rely on fossil fuels and nuclear energy to power their supply chains and logistics. “Once you pay the fixed costs of renewables, the marginal costs are near zero,” says Rifkin. “The sun and wind haven’t sent us invoices yet.”

In other words, zero marginal cost has become a zero-sum game.

To understand why that is, consider the major industrial revolutions in history, writes Rifkin in his books, The Zero Marginal Cost Society and The Third Industrial Revolution. The first major shift occurred in the 19th century when cheap, abundant coal provided an efficient new source of power (steam) for manufacturing and enabled the creation of a vast railway transportation network. Meanwhile, the telegraph gave the world near-instant communication over a globally connected network.

The second big change occurred at the beginning of the 20th century, when inexpensive oil began to displace coal and gave rise to a much more flexible new transportation network of cars and trucks. Telephones, radios, and televisions had a similar impact on communications.

Breaking Down the Walls Between Sectors

Now, according to Rifkin, we’re poised for the third big shift. The eye of the technology disruption hurricane has moved beyond communications and is heading toward—or as publishing and entertainment executives might warn, coming for—the rest of the economy. With its assemblage of global internet and cellular network connectivity and ever-smaller and more powerful sensors, the IoT, along with Big Data analytics and artificial intelligence, is breaking down the economic walls that have protected the energy and transportation sectors for the past 50 years.

Daimler is now among the first movers in transitioning into a digitalized mobility internet. The company has equipped nearly 400,000 of its trucks with external sensors, transforming the vehicles into mobile Big Data centers. The sensors are picking up real-time Big Data on weather conditions, traffic flows, and warehouse availability. Daimler plans to establish collaborations with thousands of companies, providing them with Big Data and analytics that can help dramatically increase their aggregate efficiency and productivity in shipping goods across their value chains. The Daimler trucks are autonomous and capable of establishing platoons of multiple trucks driving across highways.

It won’t be long before vehicles that navigate the more complex transportation infrastructures around the world begin to think for themselves. Autonomous vehicles will bring massive economic disruption to transportation and logistics thanks to new aggregate efficiencies. Without the cost of having a human at the wheel, autonomous cars could achieve a shared cost per mile below that of owned vehicles by as early as 2030, according to research from financial services company Morgan Stanley.

The transition is getting a push from governments pledging to give up their addiction to cars powered by combustion engines. Great Britain, France, India, and Norway are seeking to go all electric as early as 2025 and by 2040 at the latest.

The Final Piece of the Transition

Considering that automobiles account for 47% of petroleum consumption in the United States alone—more than twice the amount used for generators and heating for homes and businesses, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration—Rifkin argues that the shift to autonomous electric vehicles could provide the momentum needed to upend the final pillar of the economic platform: energy. Though energy has gone through three major disruptions over the past 150 years, from coal to oil to natural gas—each causing massive teardowns and rebuilds of infrastructure—the underlying economic model has remained constant: highly concentrated and easily accessible fossil fuels and highly centralized, vertically integrated, and enormous (and enormously powerful) energy and utility companies.

Now, according to Rifkin, the “Third Industrial Revolution Internet of Things infrastructure” is on course to disrupt all of it. It’s neither centralized nor vertically integrated; instead, it’s distributed and networked. And that fits perfectly with the commercial evolution of two energy sources that, until the efficiencies of the IoT came along, made no sense for large-scale energy production: the sun and the wind.

But the IoT gives power utilities the means to harness these batches together and to account for variable energy flows. Sensors on solar panels and wind turbines, along with intelligent meters and a smart grid based on the internet, manage a new, two-way flow of energy to and from the grid.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image5 Six New Tech Trends To Start Pursuing TodayToday, fossil fuel–based power plants need to kick in extra energy if insufficient energy is collected from the sun and wind. But industrial-strength batteries and hydrogen fuel cells are beginning to take their place by storing large reservoirs of reserve power for rainy or windless days. In addition, electric vehicles will be able to send some of their stored energy to the digitalized energy internet during peak use. Demand for ever-more efficient cell phone and vehicle batteries is helping push the evolution of batteries along, but batteries will need to get a lot better if renewables are to completely replace fossil fuel energy generation.

Meanwhile, silicon-based solar cells have not yet approached their limits of efficiency. They have their own version of computing’s Moore’s Law called Swanson’s Law. According to data from research company Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), Swanson’s Law means that for each doubling of global solar panel manufacturing capacity, the price falls by 28%, from $ 76 per watt in 1977 to $ 0.41 in 2016. (Wind power is on a similar plunging exponential cost curve, according to data from the U.S. Department of Energy.)

Thanks to the plummeting solar price, by 2028, the cost of building and operating new sun-based generation capacity will drop below the cost of running existing fossil power plants, according to BNEF. “One of the surprising things in this year’s forecast,” says Seb Henbest, lead author of BNEF’s annual long-term forecast, the New Energy Outlook, “is that the crossover points in the economics of new and old technologies are happening much sooner than we thought last year … and those were all happening a bit sooner than we thought the year before. There’s this sense that it’s not some distant risk or distant opportunity. A lot of these realities are rushing toward us.”

The conclusion, he says, is irrefutable. “We can see the data and when we map that forward with conservative assumptions, these technologies just get cheaper than everything else.”

The smart money, then—72% of total new power generation capacity investment worldwide by 2040—will go to renewable energy, according to BNEF. The firm’s research also suggests that there’s more room in Swanson’s Law along the way, with solar prices expected to drop another 66% by 2040.

Another factor could push the economic shift to renewables even faster. Just as computers transitioned from being strictly corporate infrastructure to becoming consumer products with the invention of the PC in the 1980s, ultimately causing a dramatic increase in corporate IT investments, energy generation has also made the transition to the consumer side.

Thanks to future tech media star Elon Musk, consumers can go to his Tesla Energy company website and order tempered glass solar panels that look like chic, designer versions of old-fashioned roof shingles. Models that look like slate or a curved, terracotta-colored, ceramic-style glass that will make roofs look like those of Tuscan country villas, are promised soon. Consumers can also buy a sleek-looking battery called a Powerwall to store energy from the roof.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image6 Six New Tech Trends To Start Pursuing TodayThe combination of solar panels, batteries, and smart meters transforms homeowners from passive consumers of energy into active producers and traders who can choose to take energy from the grid during off-peak hours, when some utilities offer discounts, and sell energy back to the grid during periods when prices are higher. And new blockchain applications promise to accelerate the shift to an energy market that is laterally integrated rather than vertically integrated as it is now. Consumers like their newfound sense of control, according to Henbest. “Energy’s never been an interesting consumer decision before and suddenly it is,” he says.

As the price of solar equipment continues to drop, homes, offices, and factories will become like nodes on a computer network. And if promising new solar cell technologies, such as organic polymers, small molecules, and inorganic compounds, supplant silicon, which is not nearly as efficient with sunlight as it is with ones and zeroes, solar receivers could become embedded into windows and building compounds. Solar production could move off the roof and become integrated into the external facades of homes and office buildings, making nearly every edifice in town a node.

The big question, of course, is how quickly those nodes will become linked together—if, say doubters, they become linked at all. As we learned from Metcalfe’s Law, the value of a network is proportional to its number of connected users.

The Will Determines the Way

Right now, the network is limited. Wind and solar account for just 5% of global energy production today, according to Bloomberg.

But, says Rifkin, technology exists that could enable the network to grow exponentially. We are seeing the beginnings of a digital energy network, which uses a combination of the IoT, Big Data, analytics, and artificial intelligence to manage distributed energy sources, such as solar and wind power from homes and businesses.

As nodes on this network, consumers and businesses could take a more active role in energy production, management, and efficiency, according to Rifkin. Utilities, in turn, could transition from simply transmitting power and maintaining power plants and lines to managing the flow to and from many different energy nodes; selling and maintaining smart home energy management products; and monitoring and maintaining solar panels and wind turbines. By analyzing energy use in the network, utilities could create algorithms that automatically smooth the flow of renewables. Consumers and businesses, meanwhile, would not have to worry about connecting their wind and solar assets to the grid and keeping them up and running; utilities could take on those tasks more efficiently.

Already in Germany, two utility companies, E.ON and RWE, have each split their businesses into legacy fossil and nuclear fuel companies and new services companies based on distributed generation from renewables, new technologies, and digitalization.

The reason is simple: it’s about survival. As fossil fuel generation winds down, the utilities need a new business model to make up for lost revenue. Due to Germany’s population density, “the utilities realize that they won’t ever have access to enough land to scale renewables themselves,” says Rifkin. “So they are starting service companies to link together all the different communities that are building solar and wind and are managing energy flows for them and for their customers, doing their analytics, and managing their Big Data. That’s how they will make more money while selling less energy in the future.”

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image7 1024x572 Six New Tech Trends To Start Pursuing Today

The digital energy internet is already starting out in pockets and at different levels of intensity around the world, depending on a combination of citizen support, utility company investments, governmental power, and economic incentives.

China and some countries within the EU, such as Germany and France, are the most likely leaders in the transition toward a renewable, energy-based infrastructure because they have been able to align the government and private sectors in long-term energy planning. In the EU for example, wind has already overtaken coal as the second largest form of power capacity behind natural gas, according to an article in TheGuardian newspaper. Indeed, Rifkin has been working with China, the EU, and governments, communities, and utilities in Northern France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg to begin building these new internets.

Hauts-de-France, a region that borders the English Channel and Belgium and has one of the highest poverty rates in France, enlisted Rifkin to develop a plan to lift it out of its downward spiral of shuttered factories and abandoned coal mines. In collaboration with a diverse group of CEOs, politicians, teachers, scientists, and others, it developed Rev3, a plan to put people to work building a renewable energy network, according to an article in Vice.

Today, more than 1,000 Rev3 projects are underway, encompassing everything from residential windmills made from local linen to a fully electric car–sharing system. Rev3 has received financial support from the European Investment Bank and a handful of private investment funds, and startups have benefited from crowdfunding mechanisms sponsored by Rev3. Today, 90% of new energy in the region is renewable and 1,500 new jobs have been created in the wind energy sector alone.

Meanwhile, thanks in part to generous government financial support, Germany is already producing 35% of its energy from renewables, according to an article in TheIndependent, and there is near unanimous citizen support (95%, according to a recent government poll) for its expansion.

If renewable energy is to move forward in other areas of the world that don’t enjoy such strong economic and political support, however, it must come from the ability to make green, not act green.

Not everyone agrees that renewables will produce cost savings sufficient to cause widespread cost disruption anytime soon. A recent forecast by the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that in 2040, oil, natural gas, and coal will still be the planet’s major electricity producers, powering 77% of worldwide production, while renewables such as wind, solar, and biofuels will account for just 15%.

Skeptics also say that renewables’ complex management needs, combined with the need to store reserve power, will make them less economical than fossil fuels through at least 2035. “All advanced economies demand full-time electricity,” Benjamin Sporton, chief executive officer of the World Coal Association told Bloomberg. “Wind and solar can only generate part-time, intermittent electricity. While some renewable technologies have achieved significant cost reductions in recent years, it’s important to look at total system costs.”

On the other hand, there are many areas of the world where distributed, decentralized, renewable power generation already makes more sense than a centralized fossil fuel–powered grid. More than 20% of Indians in far flung areas of the country have no access to power today, according to an article in TheGuardian. Locally owned and managed solar and wind farms are the most economical way forward. The same is true in other developing countries, such as Afghanistan, where rugged terrain, war, and tribal territorialism make a centralized grid an easy target, and mountainous Costa Rica, where strong winds and rivers have pushed the country to near 100% renewable energy, according to TheGuardian.

The Light and the Darknet

Even if all the different IoT-enabled economic platforms become financially advantageous, there is another concern that could disrupt progress and potentially cause widespread disaster once the new platforms are up and running: hacking. Poorly secured IoT sensors have allowed hackers to take over everything from Wi-Fi enabled Barbie dolls to Jeep Cherokees, according to an article in Wired magazine.

Humans may be lousy drivers, but at least we can’t be hacked (yet). And while the grid may be prone to outages, it is tightly controlled, has few access points for hackers, and is physically separated from the Wild West of the internet.

If our transportation and energy networks join the fray, however, every sensor, from those in the steering system on vehicles to grid-connected toasters, becomes as vulnerable as a credit card number. Fake news and election hacking are bad enough, but what about fake drivers or fake energy? Now we’re talking dangerous disruptions and putting millions of people in harm’s way.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature2 Image8 Six New Tech Trends To Start Pursuing TodayThe only answer, according to Rifkin, is for businesses and governments to start taking the hacking threat much more seriously than they do today and to begin pouring money into research and technologies for making the internet less vulnerable. That means establishing “a fully distributed, redundant, and resilient digital infrastructure less vulnerable to the kind of disruptions experienced by Second Industrial Revolution–centralized communication systems and power grids that are increasingly subject to climate change, disasters, cybercrime, and cyberterrorism,” he says. “The ability of neighborhoods and communities to go off centralized grids during crises and re-aggregate in locally decentralized networks is the key to advancing societal security in the digital era,” he adds.

Start Looking Ahead

Until today, digital transformation has come mainly through the networking and communications efficiencies made possible by the internet. Airbnb thrives because web communications make it possible to create virtual trust markets that allow people to feel safe about swapping their most private spaces with one another.

But now these same efficiencies are coming to two other areas that have never been considered core to business strategy. That’s why businesses need to begin managing energy and transportation as key elements of their digital transformation portfolios.

Microsoft, for example, formed a senior energy team to develop an energy strategy to mitigate risk from fluctuating energy prices and increasing demands from customers to reduce carbon emissions, according to an article in Harvard Business Review. “Energy has become a C-suite issue,” Rob Bernard, Microsoft’s top environmental and sustainability executive told the magazine. “The CFO and president are now actively involved in our energy road map.”

As Daimler’s experience shows, driverless vehicles will push autonomous transportation and automated logistics up the strategic agenda within the next few years. Boston Consulting Group predicts that the driverless vehicle market will hit $ 42 billion by 2025. If that happens, it could have a lateral impact across many industries, from insurance to healthcare to the military.

Businesses must start planning now. “There’s always a period when businesses have to live in the new and the old worlds at the same time,” says Rifkin. “So businesses need to be considering new business models and structures now while continuing to operate their existing models.”

He worries that many businesses will be left behind if their communications, energy, and transportation infrastructures don’t evolve. Companies that still rely on fossil fuels for powering traditional transportation and logistics could be at a major competitive disadvantage to those that have moved to the new, IoT-based energy and transportation infrastructures.

Germany, for example, has set a target of 80% renewables for gross power consumption by 2050, according to TheIndependent. If the cost advantages of renewables bear out, German businesses, which are already the world’s third-largest exporters behind China and the United States, could have a major competitive advantage.

“How would a second industrial revolution society or country compete with one that has energy at zero marginal cost and driverless vehicles?” asks Rifkin. “It can’t be done.” D!

About the Authors

Maurizio Cattaneo is Director, Delivery Execution, Energy and Natural Resources, at SAP.

Joerg Ferchow is Senior Utilities Expert and Design Thinking Coach, Digital Transformation, at SAP.

Daniel Wellers is Digital Futures Lead, Global Marketing, at SAP.

Christopher Koch is Editorial Director, SAP Center for Business Insight, at SAP.

Read more thought provoking articles in the latest issue of the Digitalist Magazine, Executive Quarterly.


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“The Mechanisms That Work For AI Practically Today Aren’t Mirrors Of What Goes On In The Brain”

General Artificial Intelligence is likely possible, but it’s unlikely we’ll create it from the methods we’re now utilizing. It’s not that we can’t use the current blueprint to build something strong enough to greatly improve life—or end it—but it won’t be human-like but rather something that’s at best parallel to humanness. We’ll learn about this pseudo-superintelligence by trial and error for the foreseeable future, which is always perilous when we’re talking about powerful tools that develop gradually—and then all at once.

Terry Winograd, an AI pioneer who had second thoughts, tells Aaron Timms in an OutlineQ&A that correcting the mistakes that develop along the way to more and more profound machine intelligence usually will require a large-scale failure that will elicit a course correction. “You have to wait for breakdowns,” he says, using Facebook’s great election-year failure as an example. An excerpt:


How close do you think we are to achieving “general AI”?

Terry Winograd:

I’m still in the agnostic phase — I’m not sure the techniques we have are going to get to general AI, person-like AI. I believe that nothing’s going on in my head that isn’t physical — so in principle if you could reproduce that physical structure, you could build an AI that’s just like a person. Today’s techniques are not close to that in a direct sense. Everybody knows that my brain does not operate by having trillions of examples. The mechanisms that work for AI practically today aren’t mirrors of what goes on in the brain.


How do you judge this moment in the public debate about AI? Is all this fear-mongering a useful contribution? Is it fair? Is it silly?

Terry Winograd:

Having those questions out for discussion is good, getting large amounts of hysteria and publicity isn’t. The question is: How do you raise these issues in a thoughtful way without saying, “Skynet is upon us”? Musk, I think, is more on the “clickbait” end of the public discussion about AI. But I do believe that AI is facilitating huge problems for our society — not because it’s going to be smart like a person but because robotics is going to change the whole employment picture, and because the use of AI in decision making is going to move decision-making toward directions that may not have the element of human consideration.•


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How Marketers can Take Action on GDPR Today

blog title gdpr gate chain 351x200 How Marketers can Take Action on GDPR Today

It is less than a year until the new EU-wide General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) come into force. Starting May 25, 2018, organizations could face potential heavy penalties for misuse of consumer data in a bid to give EU citizens better control of their personal information. According to a recent survey from the Direct Marketing Association, around a quarter (24%) of companies have yet to start a plan of attack, while only a little over half think that their organizations will be ready for the 2018 deadline. But what does the GDPR really mean for marketers and how can you take steps to address it now, so you don’t leave it too late?

What the GDPR means for marketers

The purpose of the GDPR is to unify data privacy principles and practices across Europe, giving EU citizens more control over their data and increased capacity to dictate how organisations may use that data. If you have an EU data subject that you are marketing to, then regardless of where you are located in the world you will have to comply with the GDPR.

Previous EU directives addressing customer data were more like digital rules, and have been interpreted in many different ways by different EU member states – some countries, such as Germany, have much more restrictive interpretations of existing methods than others, like the UK. Conversely, the GDPR is a law, meaning that all countries will have to abide by it in the same way.

The GDPR is the most comprehensive law coming into effect for the last 20 years, and will affect every company in some way, shape or form. It will most certainly have a dramatic effect on digital marketers. To begin with, there will be a lot of confusion. Can you track someone using their data? Can you share this data with third parties? If a customer wants to leave, do they have the right of erasure, and will companies have to return certain data? At the moment, it’s a very grey area, especially as the definition of personal data has been expanded to include online identifiers such as cookies and IP addresses. However, it is also a chance for marketers to reassess the data value exchange between business and user, and I believe it will ultimately lead to better digital marketers.

What should companies do to prepare for the GDPR?

If you’re a marketer in any sector, it’s important that you are thinking about your current data acquisition and customer contact practices and how these need to be adjusted in order to meet compliance. Come May 25th, companies will need to show that they are working to comply with the regulations, and those found non-compliant could very well be hit with a substantial fine.

The first thing I would advise marketers to do today is research how the GDPR affects them and their company, and re-evaluate their outreach and onboarding strategies. The essential thing to establish is that a consent trail exists so that it’s clear which data your customers have agreed to share.

Reviewing who is responsible for obtaining consent

Once you’ve reconnected with your customer database to ensure their consent statements will be GDPR-compliant, the next step you as a marketer can take today is to review contracts. Companies’ contracts will need to be updated within the media supply chain to clarifying exactly who has the obligation to obtain consent, and also who has the obligation to provide transparent information about how customers’ data is used.

Each country will have a Data Protection Authority (DPA) that will coordinate GDPR compliance; in the UK, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is that body. They have a lot of great information that will provide you some insights on what is required and how to prepare for the new rules of the digital road.

As a result of all the confusion and dread around the GDPR, the directive will definitely take some time to get used to. However, marketers must remember that it could ultimately improve the customer experience, which in turn will make us better digital marketers in the long run.

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Act-On Blog

TIBCO Spotfire Today: Explore the Best in Analytics

SF ads Blog TIBCO Spotfire Today: Explore the Best in Analytics

The brightest minds in analytics use TIBCO Spotfire to turn data into a strategic competitive advantage. From connecting to hundreds of data sources to anticipating what’s next, explore why TIBCO Spotfire provides unrivaled, simple, yet sophisticated visual analytics.

In this webinar, you’ll learn and see live demos of what makes TIBCO Spotfire truly exceptional.

  • Get an overview of data source additions including TIBCO Spotfire Smart Data Catalog, a new data connectivity and management solution
  • See easy inline data preparation for shaping, enriching, and transforming your data
  • Discover smarter visual analytics using location and an AI-driven recommendation engine
  • Delve deeper with TERR/R, TIBCO Statistica, H2O.ai, ML/MLlib, SAS, and MATLAB
  • Accelerate insights with real-time, streaming, and automated actions using StreamBase and TIBCO Live Datamart
  • Put it all together rapidly with Solution Templates and Accelerators

Don’t miss this opportunity to investigate TIBCO Spotfire from an industry expert perspective. Register today.

Presented By:

Bipin Singh, Senior Product Marketing Manager, TIBCO Analytics
Jen Underwood, Founder, Impact Analytix, LLC

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The TIBCO Blog

Social Media In Insurance Marketing Today

As 2015 winds down, it’s time to look forward to 2016 and explore the social media and content marketing trends that will impact marketing strategies over the next 15 months or so.

Some of the upcoming trends simply indicate an intensification of current trends, however others indicate that there are new things that will have a big impact in 2016.

Take a look at a few trends that should definitely factor in your planning for 2016.

1. SEO will focus more on social media platforms and less on search engines

Clearly Google is going nowhere. In fact, in 2016 Google’s word will still essentially be law when it comes to search engine optimization.

However, in 2016 there will be some changes in SEO. Many of these changes will be due to the fact that users are increasingly searching for products and services directly from websites such as Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.

There are two reasons for this shift in customer habits:

  • Customers are relying more and more on customer comments, feedback, and reviews before making purchasing decisions. This means that they are most likely to search directly on platforms where they can find that information.
  • Customers who are seeking information about products and services feel that video- and image-based content is more trustworthy.

2. The need to optimize for mobile and touchscreens will intensify

Consumers are using their mobile devices and tablets for the following tasks at a sharply increasing rate:

  • Sending and receiving emails and messages
  • Making purchases
  • Researching products and services
  • Watching videos
  • Reading or writing reviews and comments
  • Obtaining driving directions and using navigation apps
  • Visiting news and entertainment websites
  • Using social media

Most marketers would be hard-pressed to look at this list and see any case for continuing to avoid mobile and touchscreen optimization. Yet, for some reason many companies still see mobile optimization as something that is nice to do, but not urgent.

This lack of a sense of urgency seemingly ignores the fact that more than 80% of the highest growing group of consumers indicate that it is highly important that retailers provide mobile apps that work well. According to the same study, nearly 90% of Millennials believe that there are a large number of websites that have not done a very good job of optimizing for mobile.

3. Content marketing will move to edgier social media platforms

Platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat weren’t considered to be valid targets for mainstream content marketing efforts until now.

This is because they were considered to be too unproven and too “on the fringe” to warrant the time and marketing budget investments, when platforms such as Facebook and YouTube were so popular and had proven track records when it came to content marketing opportunity and success.

However, now that Instagram is enjoying such tremendous growth, and is opening up advertising opportunities to businesses beyond its brand partners, it (along with other platforms) will be seen as more and more viable in 2016.

4. Facebook will remain a strong player, but the demographic of the average user will age

In 2016, Facebook will likely remain the flagship social media website when it comes to sharing and promoting content, engaging with customers, and increasing Internet recognition.

However, it will become less and less possible to ignore the fact that younger consumers are moving away from the platform as their primary source of online social interaction and content consumption. Some companies may be able to maintain status quo for 2016 without feeling any negative impacts.

However, others may need to rethink their content marketing strategies for 2016 to take these shifts into account. Depending on their branding and the products or services that they offer, some companies may be able to profit from these changes by customizing the content that they promote on Facebook for an older demographic.

5. Content production must reflect quality and variety

  • Both B2B and B2C buyers value video based content over text based content.
  • While some curated content is a good thing, consumers believe that custom content is an indication that a company wishes to create a relationship with them.
  • The great majority of these same consumers report that customized content is useful for them.
  • B2B customers prefer learning about products and services through content as opposed to paid advertising.
  • Consumers believe that videos are more trustworthy forms of content than text.

Here is a great infographic depicting the importance of video in content marketing efforts:
small business video infographic Social Media In Insurance Marketing Today

A final, very important thing to note when considering content trends for 2016 is the decreasing value of the keyword as a way of optimizing content. In fact, in an effort to crack down on keyword stuffing, Google’s optimization rules have been updated to to kick offending sites out of prime SERP positions.

6. Oculus Rift will create significant changes in customer engagement

Oculus Rift is not likely to offer much to marketers in 2016. After all, it isn’t expected to ship to consumers until the first quarter. However, what Oculus Rift will do is influence the decisions that marketers make when it comes to creating customer interaction.

For example, companies that have not yet embraced storytelling may want to make 2016 the year that they do just that, because later in 2016 Oculus Rift may be the platform that their competitors will be using to tell stories while giving consumers a 360-degree vantage point.

For a deeper dive on engaging with customers through storytelling, see Brand Storytelling: Where Humanity Takes Center Stage.


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Digitalist Magazine

Join the Ask a Partner Anything live event today!

We’re celebrating the launch of the Video Gallery with our first Ask a Partner Anything Event, featuring Critical Path CEO and video instructor Ted Pattison. Ted has authored an hour-long video on Developing Custom Visuals for Power BI, now available in the Video Gallery.

Over the last week you’ve watched his video, and now it’s time to join Ted in the community today, Thursday, April 6, 2017 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. PT, for a live Q&A event! This is your opportunity to ask questions and share feedback directly with Ted and learn from his extensive history with custom visual development, Power BI, and training.

Join us in the the Q&A forum at 11 a.m. PT for this live event, and don’t forget to Kudo Ted’s video by end of day today for a chance to win an official Power BI t-shirt.

Critical%20Path%20Event%20Social%20Graphic Join the Ask a Partner Anything live event today!

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Microsoft Power BI Blog | Microsoft Power BI

The Microsoft Data Insights Summit is back – check out our full session catalog today!

In February, we announced that our Microsoft Data Insights Summit will return for the second year, and invited you to register and join us June 12-13, 2017 in Seattle, WA. This is THE user conference for Power BI, SQL Server BI, Excel, PowerApps, and Flow.

Building on last year’s success, we are expanding the content for this year’s event to include:

A pre-day on June 11 to provide in-depth technical training on:

  • Advanced Data Visualization and Modeling: full-day workshop covering the art and science of data visualization
  • App-in-a-Day with PowerApps, Flow, and Common Data Service: full-day workshop on creating business applications using PowerApps and Flow without writing a line of code!
  • Dashboard-in-a-Day 101: full-day workshop on connecting to data, creating interactive reports/dashboards, exploring data with visualization, and sharing insights with others
  • Data Modeling with Power BI: full-day workshop introducing techniques of shaping data models in Power BI
  • Modern Analytics in Excel: full-day workshop on extracting, transforming, and modeling data using shared advanced analytics features in Excel and Power BI—by Rob Collie, founder of PowerPivotPro
  • Power BI Dev-in-a-Day: full-day workshop for app developers to author interactive reports in Power BI Desktop, provision them in Azure, and embed them in an application

9 tracks:

  • Administration and Governance: sessions on managing modern BI while continuing to meet your organization’s unique regulatory, security, and policy requirements
  • Advanced Analytics: sessions on predictive and prescriptive analytics transforming data into intelligent action
  • Business Applications for Connected Data: sessions on leveraging Power BI and additional data sources to automate processes, enhancing collaboration and increasing productivity—using PowerApps and Flow
  • Customer Stories: sessions on best practices, successes, failures and course corrections from customers who have ben early adopters of Power BI
  • Dashboards/Reports and Design: sessions on designing interactive dashboards and visual reports to monitor and analyze your most important data
  • Data Prep and Modeling: sessions on cleaning and preparing data for visualization and analytics
  • Developers: sessions on developing apps and services leveraging Power BI, Excel, etc.
  • Distribution and Deployment: sessions on deploying Power BI solutions including deep dives on critical considerations like security and capacity planning
  • General Overview / Intro: sessions on Microsoft’s comprehensive set of tools and services that are helping organizations develop a data culture and democratize access to data and insights

4 hands-on workshops:

  • DAX 101: 2-hour workshop introducing the basics of the DAX language—by Alberto Ferrari.
  • Mini App-in-a-Day with PowerApps, Flow, and Common Data Service: 2-hour workshop on creating business applications using PowerApps and Flow without writing a line of code!
  • Mini Dashboard-in-a-Day: 2-hour workshop on connecting to data, creating interactive reports/dashboards, exploring data with visualization, and sharing insights with others
  • Mini Modern Analytics in Excel: 2-hour workshop on extracting, transforming, and modeling data using shared advanced analytics features in Excel and Power BI—by Rob Collie 

View our full session catalog on our event website today, and check back often for the latest updates!

We hope you’ll join us at the Microsoft Data Insights Summit in Seattle this June 12 – 13. Be sure to register today as space is limited and filling up quickly!

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Microsoft Power BI Blog | Microsoft Power BI

Join Our Team TODAY

image Join Our Team TODAY

Folks, we needed every cliche in the book today – and then a few that aren’t in the book.  Demand for our services has exploded, and that means we need YOU, yes YOU, more than ever.

The Microsoft data platform has Power Pivot and Power BI.  Other vendors’ platforms…  don’t.  And the world is REALLY starting to understand that to be a very big deal.

For example, as I was writing this, on a Sunday, one of my neighbors (who I talk to about once every six months) pinged me on Facebook and asked if we could help his CFO with Power BI.  Fish are jumping into the boat – even when the boat is docked at the marina.  (I’m really on a roll with the cliches today.)

If you answered yes to either of those questions, it’s time to open a conversation with us.  See that new link in the header bar?  It went up last week, and some people have indeed been finding it, but please consider this my personal invitation to you…  to click it.

image 1 Join Our Team TODAY


There’s an excellent chance that we have the BEST JOBS IN DATA.  Not kidding – our newest hire keeps telling me “I can’t believe I am getting paid to do this.”

And I get it!  At PowerPivotPro…

  • You never get stuck doing the same thing for months (or even weeks) on end.  A variety of exciting new challenges keeps the mind engaged, and that’s every single day for us.
  • The clients are AMAZING.  Almost by definition, we are only working with the nimble organizations, the ones that are willing to embrace a new and better way.  I tell people all the time that I have a “positively-skewed view of humanity” because of our clients. 
  • The clients LOVE you.  We’re taking away their pain, giving them amazing results and capabilities, and doing it without stealing their wallet.  They want to hug their consultant, which is atypical in the consulting industry – particularly in the BI and analytics industries.
  • You are ALWAYS learning.  That same variety of challenges sharpens the brain as a side effect, but you also get access to the rest of our team – on Slack, Skype, and at company events like the MDIS conference in Seattle in June – and we are always bouncing questions off of each other, sharing nifty solutions, etc.
  • Your commute involves a hallway or two, maybe a set of stairs.  On the average day at PowerPivotPro, you are working from your home.  There’s no office to drive to, no rush hours to fight, no expensive and laborious business attire to maintain.  And the workday has quite a bit of flex in it, so if you need to take your kids to school or run an errand or two, you don’t have to sneak out or deal with raised eyebrows.  Yes, we DO travel to clients, too, but…
  • You pick up incentive bonuses for onsite client work.  You should plan to travel at least once per month, and typically, that’s a 2-day client engagement.  But if you travel more than 2 days per month, we offer an aggressive bonus ladder – think of it as real-time profit-sharing.  And we’re not talking chump change here – if you were so bold as to max these out, it’s an additional six figures per year (no, not a typo).

image 2 Join Our Team TODAY

image thumb Join Our Team TODAYThe other day, I was on our weekly web meeting with our leadership team, listening to everyone’s updates, when I interrupted and said “folks, I would NOT want to compete against THIS crew.”  And I meant it.  If you’re reading this, and you run a company that operates on the Old Way of BI, we’ve assembled a crew that is going to make your life very difficult in the coming years.  Good-naturedly, of course, and for the betterment of humanity, but yeah, we’re coming wlEmoticon smile Join Our Team TODAY

The idea for this company struck me all the way back in early 2010 – back when all I had was a blogging website hosted on WordPress.com.  It’s been a long road to make it a reality – one paved with the usual difficulties for sure, but also with the assistance of some amazing people.

Seven years later, it’s a full-fledged reality:  An executive leadership team that warranted our first-ever planning retreat in Vegas this January.  Real health insurance.  A culture that has grown beyond my tight control – a living thing that makes me feel proud rather than wistful.  Those antiquated workplace posters of yesteryear that must be displayed prominently in the workplace (so we posted it to Slack).  Monthly company meetings (virtual).  Annual company meetings (in person, we do them at MDIS).  Revenues in 7 figures.  And ambitious plans to add that 8th figure, of course.

Of course it is! We can’t be a nationwide team of data ninjas if we’re not, you know…  ninjas.

But how good is good enough?  It’s very hard to tell, right?  I get it.  So here’s a quick little “thermometer” you can use to get a slightly clearer sense…

Let’s say we have a DAX measure:

[Max Date]:= MAX(DatesTable[Date])

If, in another measure, I then use it the following way:

FILTER(ALL(DatesTable), DatesTable[Date]<=[Max Date])

But then, I try this instead:

FILTER(ALL(DatesTable), DatesTable[Date]<=MAX(DatesTable[Date]))

And they DON’T give me the same results, which is really weird right??

Off the top of your head, if you “get” this, and know why the two behave differently, I encourage you to apply.

If you don’t know why off the top of your head, you’re not likely to perform well on our interview yet – circle back with us when you ARE ready, because even I was in your shoes not too long ago!

Historically, about 80% of our applicants have been men.  Does that surprise you?  “Oh sure, no surprise,” you say.  “It’s a tech field, blah blah blah…”

WRONG.  The disproportionately-male demographics of the “tech” industry don’t remotely hold true in the world of data – at least not in our experience.  Quite the opposite actually.

The classes we teach are often more than 50% female, and a woman is the brightest student in each class at the same rate.  I love that, because it DOES fly in the face of the tech industry’s demographics.  I have theories about why “data” seems to cut across gender lines much more evenly than, say, Java programming does, and the short version is this:  when it comes to tech, on average, women may just have more sense than men.  “Tech for tech’s sake” is, in my opinion, a fool’s errand, and if my theory is correct, it’s a credit to women that they don’t fall for it.  Why and when did we ever decide that something as meaningless as Java programming should be held in high regard?  Why are we constantly trying to encourage women to follow the men down that silly rathole?  Maybe women have had it right all along.

It’s an admittedly optimistic theory, because the hostility that women encounter in the software industry is quite real, as is the discouragement they receive in school.  I have zero desire to downplay or whitewash that reality.  Whatever the reasons, I’m glad that it seems to be different in analytics.

A PivotTable, as one contrast to the pursuit of generic “programming,” answers a question.  It tells a story.  It saves tremendous amounts of time and manual labor.  It has tangible value – a human purpose, and we want to be around people who are drawn to THAT, whether male or female.  And in our experience, women are at least as clued in as men on this front.  Slightly more so, actually.

So ladies…  let’s hear from you.

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