Ideagen CEO, Leif Akerman moderates the European Union United States Delegation Discussion on Transatlantic Economy and Business with Dr. Randall Henning, Professor of Economics, American University; Damien Levie, Head of Trade and Agriculture Section, EU Delegation to the US; Kim Smith, Chief Digital Officer, Capgemini North America; Jeff Terry, Global Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Amway. 

Recently, I had the privilege to speak at the European Union United States Delegation Summit 2017 on the topic of the impact and implications of digital innovation as it relates to trade and social economies.  It was a tremendous opportunity to discuss how regions around the world can work together to strengthen innovation for citizens, business, and public/private partnerships. I shared thoughts on how the digital revolution is driving leaders to find new ways to partner, collaborate, share costs, & co-innovate to develop new processes and products which has the ability to move global growth forward.

Disruption through digital innovation is impacting economies around the globe and has blurred boundaries between the commercial and public sector evolutionary paths. The EU US Delegation has a powerful opportunity to address points of friction in local markets, expand capabilities to stimulate job growth, facilitate trade and innovation, and guard against security threats.

European Union Delegation to the United States Ambassador O’Sullivan (center) hosts innovative and disruptive leaders at the Ambassador residence to kick off the EU-US Delegation Summit 2017.  Included here:  Maurizio Vecchione, Senior Vice President, Intellectual Ventures Global Good & Research; Stacy Haller, CEO, Bright Focus; Ambassador O’Sullivan; Nancy Lynn, Senior Vice President, Bright Focus; James Keach, CEO PCH Films and renowned film director; Kim Smith, Chief Digital Officer, Capgemini North America.

Here are a few observations from the forum and subsequent discussion on fueling disruption and impacts on trade. I also invite you to watch the entire panel discussion and overall event and join us in March at Capgemini’s San Francisco Applied Innovation Exchange for the upcoming Ideagen Tech Innovation Summit 2017 in partnership with Ideagen and the United Nations.

Enabling digital innovation + entrepreneurship = positive implications on local economies

The EU US Delegation members have much to learn from multinational corporations and startups as they consider ways to grow local economies through the advancement of digital technologies and an innovation mindset. Digital dexterity matters. Applying key tactics such as deinvesting in legacy ventures which don’t produce economic benefits, enabling and investing in entrepreneurship, infusing local capabilities for global impact & scale, incubating digitally enabled public private partnerships, and adopting policies that encourage development of and access to a diversified workforce by creating paths toward hiring without limits, these agencies become orchestrators for the betterment of local economies and the welfare of citizens. What makes this possible is ensuring that the necessary infrastructure, governance, and access is available at a low cost of entry point for everyone who needs it.

There is tremendous opportunity for the EU to play a role in enabling local governments and businesses to work together to improve the lives of citizens through next generation workforce enablement, job training and career advancement, social responsibility investments. More importantly, they have significant capacity to define co-innovation imperatives that can be applied to solve the immediate and long-term needs of an economy and drive business development for corporations that want to thrive in that economy. Countries such as India require organizations to invest a percentage of revenue into the economy for social responsibility and sustainable growth, a viable practice for other countries around the globe. The corporate world is ready to step up and needs the partnership of its public sector brethren to coalesce with passion and commitment.

Over the past several decades, innovation and transformation focused on the mastery of technology. As we look at where digital innovation is moving, we see it has become the center of gravity for the way that businesses and organizations operate. Disruptive emerging capabilities in online services blur boundaries across geographies and between industries. We see leading universities, local governments, start-ups, & research firms engaged in high-end testing, curation, and analysis which is then used by corporations to think differently about how they run their businesses. There is tremendous opportunity for the EU to tap into this insight as an impetus for change. Learning about how organizations are rapidly changing the way business is done, the workforce of the future is accessed, innovative paths to profitability are paved, this is where biggest value proposition lies for any organization, most especially, the EU.

A powerful new phenomenon is upon us in the job economy. There is a progressive decrease in affinity to a corporation mindset and an increase in demand for open or free agency skill & job markets. Universities are going online to reach a new market of students who expect more affordable, digitally accessible and relevant jobs. The way organizations attract, recruit, reward, and retain employees has evolved dramatically to meet the needs of the largest generational and diverse spectrum in our history. The next generation of talent is coming from anywhere and everywhere in the world, limitless hiring models are becoming pervasive and high potential talent has expanded across a global skill economy. Tomorrow, how quickly you can access the right talent to deliver results from anywhere at the right cost will supersede the limitations of an organizational construct or where an employee resides.  How we define roles will go beyond a job description and bodies in seats. Removing boundaries and barriers to communication, connection, creativity leads to a completely reengineered work force. Jobs without borders enabled through digital communities. Limitless talent capacity accessible through collaborative cloud technology. What an incredible opportunity for countries who may not have the infrastructure of their advanced peers to leapfrog and create new and powerful differentiation through the empowerment of their workforce through digitally enabled means.

Some of the most critical changes throughout the digital revolution relate to areas such as the creation of immersive experiences (access anytime, any device, anywhere) and digital manufacturing or industrialization of the internet, which includes the internet of things, bots, and artificial intelligence. It is no longer good enough to maintain a leadership position in the market by selling great products. It has become imperative that organizations shift into monetizing digital and online services. Organizations are becoming ambassadors of information and insight. We reside in a world where a product company can no longer just sell light bulbs and survive. They now must offer insights on how that the power of that light bulb is put to use, inform improvements on better ways to maximize bulb lifetime value and enable a sustainable source of energy in the most cost effective way. Organizations that thrive on reinventing themselves through emerging technologies with entrepreneurial agility can reimagine and future proof themselves exponentially.

Tapping into the tech industry & tackle cybersecurity to keep one step ahead

Every major high-tech player has skin in the game to succeed at growing their business in countries around the world. The EU has the ability to create more bimodal relationships with these organizations in order to learn from their experiences to go beyond the basics of protecting personally identifiable information (PII) to holistically focus on mastering a path toward proactively evading cybersecurity attacks on the overall infrastructure as it has tremendous upside. Investing time and resources into driving cybersecurity partnerships and support programs, with the commercial ecosystem of companies, with schools and universities who are training future technologists, and with the community at large.

Cyber criminals have direct impact on trade and economies and are becoming more professional and masterful every second. There must be a shift in focus from just ‘network centric’ to more ‘data centric’ protection practices across five key components of any cybersecurity strategy: data centers & networks, applications & databases, data in transit, endpoints, and identity & access management. Focused governance in these areas require the enablement of people through policy, monitoring, reporting, and awareness. The World Economic Forum 2017 Global Risks Report highlights a number of technological risks as the most important global macro-economic risks and has done so for the past several years. Data fraud or theft and cyber-attacks are listed in the 10 most likely risks, while the breakdown of critical information infrastructure and networks are included as a high risk terms of global impact. The report also points to the massive and widespread misuse of technologies as a global risk. The corporate world has responded to these risks with tremendous investment in research and development of people and technologies to combat and anticipate these attacks at a global scale. Increasingly it is imperative that government agencies make the effort to invest significantly as well. Partnering with the private sector will allow governments to maximize a geography’s ability to protect its people. Enabling a shared economy around solving for cyber-attacks through better training and development, investing in scalable technologies, corporate social responsibility programs that infuse talent and money into vaccinating against this worldwide epidemic all can and should be led by world leaders who have the power to advance the cause.

This shared level of commitment and focus not only tackles this problem head on but it also increases vested engagement as well as accountability, ownership, and visibility while staying ahead of the curve and creating heightened awareness for the focus on the safety, security, and strength of a stable digital platform with shared commitment from everyone who cares about and is invested in its success. The EU has a unique position to get creative by establishing impactful guidelines and standards, cross sector forums, networks, access to the next generation of digital natives, and developing programs for viable public and private partnerships to create One Digital Market that is accessible and protected for everyone who uses it.

Europe 2020 Single Digital Market – Creating an ecosystem for collaborative exchange accelerates and empowers

According to a recent Gartner report, CEOs expect that by 2020 41% of enterprise revenue will come from digital business.  Pair that with the imperatives for the Europe 2020 Strategy, and we have an incredible impetus for change, acceleration, exponential growth. Finally, add the trillions of dollars spent across economies globally to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030 giving us the wherewithal to fuel the disruption the world so desperately needs. These forces are demanding that we break down geographic and industry barriers to growth and identify a path toward enabling game-changing, boundless-sharing economies –  crowdstorming, Blockchain, bitcoin, machine friending – all future cast, empower, and enable people, socially, collaboratively engaged people through technology and not the other way around. It would be compelling to see our EU US Delegation take the lead in facilitating and orchestrating an exchange in every country represented to allow for the creation of an environment and mindset that represents connective tissue and not borders. To allow us to collectively embrace the infusion of digital capabilities and innovation mindsets as critical elements to accelerating and empowering each and every country to accelerate the growth and sustainability of its own economy.

How the EU and US jointly establish new ways to do business and create better social economies won’t come easy. Digital innovation has hit a rebellious teenager phase.  No amount of vision can truly predict where the next stage is headed, and there is a good chance we will be on this unruly, disobedient, wild ride for some time. The smartest thing we can do is invest in innovation through infrastructure, guidance, collaboration, and access. Put up guardrails, create ecosystems of collaborative exchanges, and most importantly, instill a sense of community and cross sector engagement to fuel and not brace for the disruption ahead. With these parameters in place, together we can continue to create new ideas and ways to enrich social, trade, and global economies.

I’d like to thank my peers for joining me in this riveting discussion on what’s next for innovation and how the EU and US can continue to move forward together. I invite you to watch the entire panel discussion and event here and join us in March at Capgemini’s San Francisco Applied Innovation Exchange for the upcoming Ideagen Tech Innovation Summit 2017.

A special note of appreciation to Ideagen

This session at the EU US Delegation Summit 2017 would not have been possible without the sponsorship and organization of the EU US Delegation led by Ambassador David O’Sullivan and Ideagen, an organization focused on bringing together leading companies, NGOs and public sector organizations to innovate and collaborate. I want to take this opportunity to thank Ambassador O’Sullivan personally for his generosity and Ideagen for their incredible support of Capgemini.

Capgemini recently received recognition as an Ideagen Power 100: Companies, Institutions, and Organizations Empowering Women & Girls Across the Planet. I am proud to be a member of Ideagen’s Impact & Thought Leader Council. As Capgemini North America’s corporate social responsibility executive sponsor working with Fortune 1000 companies and the United Nations in applying the Capgemini Collaborative Business Experience to address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030 – Industry, Innovation, & Infrastructure (#9) and Responsible Consumption & Production (#12). See Press release and e-book.

The annual Ideagen Power 100 List of Organizations Empowering Women and Girls highlights companies, NGOs and public sector organizations empowering women and girls across the planet. Most importantly the list is qualitative and a spotlight on these amazing organizations that are making significant strides toward changing the world with their impact leadership.

The Impact & Thought Leader Council is Ideagen’s curation council developing the topical framework and thought leadership for cross sector collaboration in support of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030. With our contributions, we will be able to infuse the Ideagen summit process with key elements of Capgemini’s primary expertise and vantage point for each of the four quarterly summits:  the January 23, 2017 Ideagen Annual Global Leadership 2030 SDG Summit and EU US Delegation Summit, followed by the Annual Tech for Good Summit in Silicon Valley at Capgemini’s Applied Innovation Exchange, the annual Empowering Women & Girls Summit June 2017 at the United Nations, and the Global Good Summit held at Intellectual Ventures and Microsoft Innovation Labs in October 2017.

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