A couple of weeks ago while crossing the Atlantic, I read an article published on the Financial Times titled “Money for Nothing” written by John Thornhill and Ralph Atkins. Not only was the article interesting but it made me think how we at SAP are positioned not only to drive the digital transformation of governments but also, to witness and why not, to help transform, the future of welfare and the proper management and disbursement of the unconditional basic income for world citizens therefore accelerating innovation. Are you curious to find out how? Please read on.
The idea of an unconditional basic income (UBI) is not a new one, its origin dates to the 1800’s. Throughout the 20th century, the idea to receive an income regardless of work, health and social contribution has been debated not only academically but also in some parliamentary sessions, congressional hearings and election campaigns. France, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Canada, Finland and The Netherlands among others have toyed with this idea and some even have pilot focus groups.
Our social system is now 150 years old and we as a society have failed to adapt to the needs and values of our times. Technological change, together with wars, migration, free trade agreements and others, brings inherent social disruption and is convulsing labor markets worldwide. Machine learning and the rise of robots will only aggravate the labor issues. A good example are the self-driving trucks which in the United States alone, will impact the largest job category in a couple of states being equivalent to 3.5 million jobs. If not managed properly, the digital revolution can increase economic insecurity and inequality. And how could government agencies provide social benefits to address this important challenge?
I believe all rich societies should aim to provide a basic level of subsistence, enabling people to do more of what they want and less of what they do not want to do. Some authors claim that the UBI is about shifting power back to the citizen. If so, then I could theorize an accelerated innovation cycle as citizens focus on their real passions. A true digital revolution. And what does this have to do with SAP?
SAP shall provide the digital core for governments to manage and reimagine all social benefit programs. So we support initiatives like the UBI; at the same time SAP would help unleash citizen entrepreneurship by providing an environment that would foster innovation for all those citizens who would now focus on what they want to do and not what they have to do. This entrepreneurship spirit would create the new business models and companies of the future and SAP would be there to support them.
Sounds like a nice idea. Is the world ready for this? Only time will tell; in the meantime, at SAP, we are getting ready.