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Author's profile photo David Jonker

Machine Learning Thursdays: Can Machine Learning Address the Planet’s Biggest Problems?

Critics have aimed barbs at technology for solving short-term, high-payout problems. To be fair, the critiques aren’t always distorted. While it’s true urban dwellers can hail a ride and order take out more easily, we’re still far from ending global hunger, realizing gender equality, or creating affordable, clean energy. Changes are underway, though, as these weighty concerns are finding much-needed aid from a set of smart, passionate technology leaders.

Fortunately, efforts are underway to arm global leaders with smart technology. In 2015, 193 world leaders identified 17 global goals for sustainable development and groups like the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data—of which SAP is a founding member and anchor partner—are bringing together governments, NGOs, and the private sector to harness the data revolution to help monitor and achieve them. These are stubbornly complex problems; the kind that need machine learning to make sense of the complex patterns within them.

From the Boardroom to Developing Nations

The United Nation’s Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is on a mission to make these goals a reality. UNIDO, a specialized agency of the UN, promotes industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalization, and environmental sustainability, and it is committed to helping developing nations make the right investments and policy decisions to grow their economic and industrial capacity, and in the process provide a strong economic, social and environmental foundation for their citizens.

Certainly, these developing nations must navigate complex issues. It’s their complexity that demands analytics and machine learning to process data to identify trends, similarities, differences, outliers, and more. That’s why UNIDO is looking to make analytics a central part of their dialog with governments as they navigate their way to prosperous decisions.

SAP has been helping UNIDO harness the SAP Digital Boardroom and its machine learning capabilities to identify key influencers impacting the performance in certain sectors of an economy, and to forecast national trends based on decisions they make. Maybe even more importantly, it will provide guidance based on the data about where investments should be made and other recommendations. SAP built a Digital Boardroom concept for UNIDO’s 50th anniversary celebration last November and you can see what’s possible in this YouTube video.

UN and SAP Next-Gen Program Reflect on World with Machine Learning

UNIDO is just one example of the many agencies, governments, NGOs and private sector companies working to progress the UN Global Goals. As multiple groups join together to do the hard work, SAP is helping teams with its machine learning and data visualization solutions.

The web book “SAP & UN Global Goals” features some of the stories of how SAP customers and SAP are contributing to the UN Global Goals. In the coming months, we will be sharing more about our work around the UN Global Goals with members of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data. The first stop is a presentation on April 27 at the launch of the SAP Next-Gen program in New York City in partnership with Hasso Plattner Institute. We have a cast of thought-provoking speakers and we will be introducing the innovation platform, SAP Next-Gen. Check out the event site, agenda, and some of the speakers.

Companies, startups, partners and universities can connect, innovate and collaborate around the UN Global Goals with SAP Next-Gen. Corporations and partners can participate in SAP Next-Gen via memberships in clubs for industries and technologies, and take advantage of innovation tours, global challenges, salons, meetups, boot camps, industry summits; SAP Next-Gen Industry Fellows program; SAP Next-Gen Startup Matchmaker program, and innovation services from partners, accelerators, and startups in the SAP Next-Gen network. (Learn more about SAP Next-Gen.)

Reflecting on global challenges will be a significant part of SAP Next-Gen and additional programs within SAP committed to working to help address and solve global issues. The 17 sustainable goals are among the greatest global challenges and their complexity demands accurate reflection and the best technologies available. Finding solutions depends on the sort of reflection that only data can provide.

To further sustainable development and overcome these global challenges, SAP is inviting startups, business people, students, educators and citizens to participate in the SAP Next-Gen Global Challenges and contribute to finding tangible solutions for the 17 UN global goals.

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