Generation Y, those born between 1980 and 2000, is most different from others in its entrepreneurial spirit and aspiration to have a positive social impact. A survey by Deloitte this year found that 78% of Gen Y is influenced by how innovative a company is when deciding whether to work there. This new workforce also believes that businesses can do more to help with social and environmental problems.
SAP knows that this generation will be the makers of innovative solutions for sustainable living. To realize this potential, we organized two contests in 2013, the Global Connected Car and the Utility of Tomorrow. Students at universities across the globe shared their ideas on using technology to make smarter, energy-saving cars and homes.
This August, the 10 winning teams came to Palo Alto for a workshop, organized with our contest sponsors, General Motors and San Diego Gas and Electric. Previous blog posts have reported on the top ideas for connected car and utility, and some finalists talked about their applications with me on camera at Palo Alto.
The teams came with bold ideas for designing sustainable and intelligent living. One team wanted to have consumers bet against their electricity bill as an incentive to save energy. Another was working on a mobile application that helps the driver improve his driving to save fuel. Their aim during the five-day workshop was to make a viable business plan and a prototype of their application, complete with back-end software and user-interface.
This was a tall order and the teams jumped right into work with business mentors, designers, and developers at SAP. Participants also had guidance talks with executives from the three contest organizers. Sparing a little time from their laptops and team meetings, some of the aspiring entrepreneurs spoke with me about their experiences of building new applications.
For the contestants, this was an opportunity to put their ideas into gear with guidance from industry professionals. At SAP, this competition introduced us to new thinking in connected and sustainable living, which is the future of technology, and to talented students who could one day work with us in this area.