SAP InnoJam: Innovating for a World Population of 7 Billion

Recently my colleagues at TechSoup Global and I attended a very interesting event at SAP Labs in Palo Alto, sponsored by SAP and UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund). On October 31 the world population reached 7 billion and UNFPA is leading a global initiative to build awareness around opportunities and challenges of a world of 7 billion people. This requires action insustainability, urbanization, access to health services, and youth education. SAP is the exclusive analytics partner for the campaign. SAP technology solutions help engage with population data to understand the challenges, interact with the data to see how choices impact our future, and explore data to help make better decisions. To get a flavor of this, take a look at the interactive population dashboards which were developed using SAP business analytics products. These dashboards will be used by the UN, local governments, economists and NGOs.

About 200 people attended this two-part event. The morning session was an executive roundtable on “Innovating for a World of 7 Billion.” (You can watch the recorded session here.) The panel included:

The afternoon session "SAP InnoJam: Actions to Innovatefor a World of 7 Billion" was a working session that was broken up into several groups. The specific challenge presented to participants was focused on youth empowerment in less-developed countries. The goal: develop solutions to help the youth generate economic benefits through access to education, healthy lifestyles, and employment. We split into 8 teams and developed solutions that were presented back to a panel of judges at the end of the day. Four proposals were selected to move forward for SAP supported Strategic Technical Skilled Volunteer project in 2012.

Before starting the working sessions we were introduced to the concept of Design Thinking, which was to be used in developing our solutions. This methodology for innovation combines creative and analytical approaches using the real world challenge of youth empowerment facing nonprofits, corporations,and government agencies alike. SAP is using these Design Thinking philosophies at their SAP TechEd events around the world.

It was a well-executed and worthwhile event. The morning panel discussion was very good in framing the problem, and I was especially impressed with Dr. Kavita Ramdas’ views (52 minutes in to this recorded session) on how technology is not necessarily a solution in itself, since it can be used for both good and bad. What role do you think technology can play in curbing population growth?  

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