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A New Opportunity for Cloud Companies to do Good

I am excited. For years, I tried to figure out how a cloud company could embed a social mission or cause into the core of its function. I finally found an answer.

/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/shutterstock_146237030_798795.jpgLet me explain, there are of course many ways cloud companies can do good. From green data centers, to charitable giving, to coding software that will be used to diagnose patients. There are an abundance of ways technology helps the world, but I still found it personally difficult to make social part of my every day agenda.

My perspective is very much alike to the one of Pepsi’s CEO Indra Nooyi that corporate social responsibility can’t be something you do after work is over, but that it needs to be embedded in what you do or as she describes it: “Performance with purpose is not how we spend the money we make, it’s how we make the money. That’s a fundamental difference from corporate social responsibility.” (quote)

Now being responsible for the world’s largest business network in the cloud – Ariba – my team developed a partnership with Made in a Free World (MIAFW). Justin Dillon and MIAFW is taking on one of our most intractable challenges of our time: to eradicate slave labor in our supply chains. Shockingly, there are more than 20 million forced laborers around the world today.

In combining our network – and the more than 16 years of transactional, relationship, and community-generated content that lives in it – with Made in a Free World’s FRDM database – the most comprehensive of its kind – which maps the bill of materials of countless number of products and services right down to their raw materials and labor inputs, we can help you can find out where slavery exists in your supply chain and give you tools to eradicate it. This is exciting and it is core to what Ariba does. It also adds more value to the transactions of companies in the marketplace, and it also makes procurement more strategic to the business. It will take a network to end the network of slavery.

While we are just getting started with the partnership, it suddenly dawned on me on how I should have thought about social in business:

  1. Ariba’s core competence helping companies manage all aspects of their procurement and our large network. The network of nearly two million companies is unique and in many ways it enables the partnership with MIAFW to be so potent. Ask yourself, what is the core of your business that you are uniquely positioned to leverage?
  2. You might have a great idea but especially in today’s digital economy everything is about community and leveraging the power of your community. We took the idea of our partnership with MIAFW and presented it to 15 of our most important customers. Their reaction: this aligns with our cause and it makes procurement more of a value creator. Does your community of customers, suppliers and partners care for your initiative?
  3. We are in an age where data is the new currency and allows to re-imagine business. By harnessing the data that represents trillions of commerce over the Ariba network, we can add new insights into supply chains. Can you leverage data in your business model to add value?

When it all comes together, cloud businesses can truly impact the world, and align it to how your business makes money. It will take communities and networks to impact the world at a broad scale. I hope you join MIAFW in their effort. We see you there.

Alex Atzberger

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