UN Secretary-General Calls on Private Sector to Help Developing Countries with Post-Pandemic Recovery

Source: World Economic Forum

Public.Affairs@weforum.org

  • António Guterres urges governments, the private sector and international financial institutions to work together to build up private investment in low-income countries and rebuild economies
  • Manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies can ensure vaccine equity by supporting the local production of tests and treatments, sharing know-how and technology
  • The global financial system needs to be redesigned to reduce inequalities, and prepare for vulnerability and investment risks, especially those related to climate change

Geneva, Switzerland, 17 January 2022 – In a special address at the virtual World Economic Forum Davos Agenda 2022 on Monday, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres outlined three urgent areas that need to be addressed for the world to emerge from the ongoing global economic and health crisis and to ensure the UN Sustainable Development Goals are achieved.

“Recovery remains fragile and uneven amid the lingering pandemic, persistent labour market challenges, ongoing supply chain disruptions, rising inflation and looming debt traps,” he said. “To chart a new course, we need all hands on deck, especially the global business community.”

The first area that needs immediate attention is confronting the COVID-19 pandemic with equity and fairness. Citing the World Health Organization’s global target to vaccinate 40% of people in all countries by the end of 2021 and 70% by the middle of 2022, Guterres said the world is nowhere near these targets. “If we fail to vaccinate every person, we give rise to new variants that spread across borders and bring daily life and economies to a grinding halt,” he said.

To ensure vaccine equity, he called on countries and manufacturers to prioritize vaccine supply to the global programme COVAX and to support the local production of tests, vaccines and treatments around the world. He also asked pharmaceutical companies to stand in solidarity with developing countries by sharing licences, know-how and technology to find a way out of the pandemic.

The second challenge is the need to reform the global financial system, especially as low-income countries are at a huge disadvantage and are experiencing their slowest growth in a generation. “The burdens of record inflation, shrinking fiscal space, high interest rates and soaring energy and food prices are hitting every corner of the world and blocking recovery, especially in these low- and middle-income countries,” Guterres said. This is stifling any hope of growth by making it even more difficult for governments to invest in the sustainable and resilient systems.

He urged business leaders to help shape a global financial system that works for all countries. This includes working to restructure the long-term debt architecture, addressing corruption and illicit financial flows, ensuring that tax systems are fair and designed in a way that reduce inequalities, and bringing together governments, businesses, the financial sector and international financial institutions to build up private investment in developing countries.

Supporting climate action in developing countries is the third area that needs immediate attention, especially as global emissions are set to increase by 14% by 2030.

“Even if all developed countries kept their promises to drastically reduce emissions by 2030, global emissions would still be too high to keep the 1.5 degree Celsius goal within reach. We need a 45% reduction in global emissions this decade,” Guterres stressed.

Climate shocks, including extreme weather events, forced 30 million people to flee their homes in 2020 alone – three times more than those displaced by war and violence. And 1 billion children are at an extremely high risk of the impacts of climate change. “Turning this ship around will take immense willpower and ingenuity from governments and businesses alike, in every major-emitting nation,” he said. “We see a clear role for businesses and investors in supporting our net-zero goal.”

This, he said, calls for the creation of coalitions of government, public and private financial institutions, investment funds and companies with the technological know-how to provide targeted financial and technical support for every country that needs assistance.

The World Economic Forum’s Climate Action Platform is helping businesses, governments and NGOs accelerate and scale ambition and partnerships needed to drive a sustainable and inclusive future, and its Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders is engaging policy-makers to help deliver the transition to a net-zero economy.

Guterres concluded by saying that many countries need the support, ideas, financing and voice of the global business community.

“If we fail to provide debt relief and financing to developing countries, we create a lopsided recovery that can send an interconnected global economy into a tailspin,” he said. “If we fail to reduce inequalities, we weigh down economic progress for all people in all countries.”

About the Davos Agenda 2022
For over 50 years, the World Economic Forum has been the international organization for public-private cooperation. The Davos Agenda 2022 is the focal point at the start of the year for leaders to share their outlook, insights and plans relating to the most urgent global issues. The meeting will provide a platform to accelerate the partnerships needed to tackle shared challenges and shape a more sustainable and inclusive future. Learn more about the programme and view sessions live and on demand.

Prime Minister Modi of India Urges All Countries to Embrace Sustainable Lifestyles through Vision of One Earth One Health

Source: World Economic Forum

Public.Affairs@weforum.org

  • India challenges world to ditch throwaway consumerism and shift to circular economy, emphasizing India’s low per capita emissions
  • Modi calls for reform of multilateral organizations to fashion a more democratic approach to global challenges
  • India is in the top three countries in the world for unicorns, creating over 40 in 2021 along with 60,000 start-ups
  • Watch the full special address and learn more about the Davos Agenda 2022

Geneva, Switzerland, 17 January 2022 – Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India used his address to the Davos Agenda 2022 to call on all countries to shift from a throwaway culture towards more sustainable lifestyles. Modi emphasized that while India is home to 17% of the world’s population, it contributes only 5% of global emissions.

“It is very essential that we move away from today’s take-make-use-dispose economy and towards a circular economy,” he said. India, which co-launched the International Solar Alliance at COP26 to ensure universal access to affordable solar energy, today generates 40% of its energy from non-fossil sources. Modi underlined that the next phase of India’s growth will be “green, clean, sustainable and reliable”.

The prime minister questioned the ability of the world’s multilateral organizations to meet challenges that did not exist when they were created. He said that reforming these institutions is “the responsibility of every democratic country”. In a clear call for greater global cooperation, he said: “Today, more than ever before, countries need each other’s help – this is the only path to a better future.” He offered India’s vision of One Earth One Health as a means of responding to global challenges, from the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change.

India is an entrepreneurial powerhouse that has created 10,000 new start-ups in the past six months and over 40 unicorns in 2021, Modi said, propelling the country into the top three in the world for billion-dollar new ventures. Its digital infrastructure is developing rapidly, with over 4.4 billion transactions taking place on its United Payments interface in the past month alone. Over the period 2020-2021, India attracted $82 billion in foreign direct investment – a new record. Modi said India is committed to becoming a trusted partner for global supply chains.

In a bid to improve the ease of doing business, Modi outlined the measures his government is taking to reduce government intervention to the minimum. He has done away with over 25,000 tax compliances in the past year and deregulated most sectors for investment, except for defence, aerospace and telecoms. His government is investing $1.3 trillion on connectivity-related infrastructure through its GatiShakti National Master Plan, which includes connecting over 6,000 villages through optical fibre. The plan’s aim, he said, is to “give new impetus to seamless connectivity for movement of goods, people and services”. India is also investing $26 billion to boost manufacturing and resilient supply chains.

The Prime Minister also spoke to the importance of collective and synchronized action to face global challenges. He highlighted new technology as an important area for countries to act together, “Another example is cryptocurrency. Given the kind of technology it is associated with, the decisions taken by a single country will be insufficient to deal with its challenges.”

Modi said India enters 2022 “infused with self-confidence”. Its economic growth is projected to hit 8.5%. It has already administered 1.6 billion COVID-19 vaccines. And, he added: “Our multilingual, multicultural environment is a great strength [that] teaches us not just to think of ourselves in times of crisis but to work in the best interests of the world.”

About the Davos Agenda 2022
For over 50 years, the World Economic Forum has been the international organization for public-private cooperation. The Davos Agenda 2022 is the focal point at the start of the year for leaders to share their outlook, insights and plans relating to the most urgent global issues. The meeting will provide a platform to accelerate the partnerships needed to tackle shared challenges and shape a more sustainable and inclusive future. Learn more about the programme and view sessions live and on demand.

We’re Making Walmart the Best Place for Everyone by Creating Opportunity

Source: Walmart

Headline: We’re Making Walmart the Best Place for Everyone by Creating Opportunity

To: All U.S. based associates From: Donna Morris, Chief People Officer Ben Hasan, SVP and Global Chief Culture, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer Today we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his commitment to service. It’s a principle that in many ways embodies your work as Walmart associates supporting communities over these past two years of challenging times. Serving customers and members around the world is enabling them to live better. To associates worldwide, we thank you.There’s a path for everyone hereDr. King also dreamed of equality and opportunity, which continues to resonate today. Our goal is to make Walmart the best place for everyone, and that begins with creating a path and providing opportunity for all. Equity in the workplace fosters collective growth, innovation and progress toward common goals while enabling each one of us to achieve our individual aspirations. More importantly, equity is rooted in our shared humanity, which connects us and comes to life through our value of Respect for the Individual. Dr. King expressed it best: “We may have all come on different ships, but we are in the same boat now.”As we start the new year, we’d like to share some of the ways we’re bringing our vision of workplace inclusion and equity to life so that we all feel a sense of belongingness.Our Live Better U (LBU) education program is creating a path of opportunity for career growth at Walmart. Walmart pays 100% of college tuition and books, through our LBU program, and the educational offerings tie directly to our growth areas at Walmart. Approximately 1.5 million part-time and full-time Walmart and Sam’s Club associates in the U.S. can earn college degrees or learn trade skills without the burden of education debt, starting on their first day of employment. Equity is essential to the program, which includes three participating Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) and a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI). According to a recent study, approximately 18% of Walmart’s Live Better U participants are Black, and Black associates who participated were 88% more likely to receive promotions than non-participants.Our Walmart Academies also offer front-line associates a path to growth. We have dedicated facilities nationwide, including locations in underserved communities, all of which provide advanced retail skills instruction. In many respects, we are the nation’s largest training academy for professional development, and we are proud of our legacy of promoting from within and our focus on internal mobility. More than 75% of Walmart U.S. store operations management team members started as hourly associates. We grow incredible leaders and know that while some choose to pursue other opportunities, we have contributed to their development and the overall growth of the global workforce.Our commitment to creating a workplace of belongingWe embrace inclusive recruitment practices and diverse hiring slates to enable access to growth opportunities and ensure our promotional, pay and hiring processes are fair and equitable. Representation matters, and according to our latest Culture, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (CDE&I) Mid-Year Report, women comprised over 33% of our U.S. officer population while people of color accounted for over 25% of U.S. officers. More than 55% of new hires were people of color, and LatinX, Asian and Native American representation in the total U.S. workforce rose as well.We’re also seeing other encouraging signs of progress. In Q2 and Q3 we promoted more people of color officers than those who exited, and the same trend was true for Black and African American officers. While we still have work to do, we know that our CDE&I Annual Report and Mid-Year Report along with our Environmental, Social and Governance Report will continue to drive transparency and accountability.Equity in the workplace also extends to well-being, which enables us all to thrive and enjoy healthy lives. Benefits like virtual doctor visits through Doctor on Demand, counseling services at no cost through Resources for Living and many other programs can help support your physical, financial and emotional well-being.Walmart is also working to address inequitable systems and structural racism in society though our associate-led Shared Value Networks and the Walmart.org Center for Racial Equity. We encourage you to get involved and learn more, and for some this could mean becoming an ally through our nine Associate Resource Groups. Diversity and inclusion at Walmart extends well beyond ethnicity and gender to the intersectionality of LGBTQ+, veterans, faith-based and people impacted by disabilities communities. We are grateful to the many associates driving this important work along with the leadership of the Officer Caucuses and the President’s Inclusion Council for their passion and dedication to make Walmart a place of inclusion and belonging from the inside out.These are just a handful of examples of Walmart’s actions to continue to build a workplace where everyone is included and feels a sense of belongingness. Creating opportunity is at the heart of advancing equity and the humanity that connects us, and it will make Walmart the best place for opportunity.So, thank you Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; you stood up for inclusion and humanity in the face of great odds and resistance. At Walmart, we stand with you. 

What’s On The Cards for Retailers in 2022? Climate Change, Metaverse and Pre-Loved To Reshape Shopping

Source: Alibaba

Headline: What’s On The Cards for Retailers in 2022? Climate Change, Metaverse and Pre-Loved To Reshape Shopping

The coronavirus pandemic, climate change and evolving gender politics are among the powerful forces refashioning consumer behavior. Retailers are racing to keep up.

The industry will need to adapt quickly to these changing norms or swathes of businesses will face irrelevancy as past purchases no longer imply brand loyalty.

Market research provider, Euromonitor International, has identified ten consumer groups that erupted onto the scene during the pandemic and advices how retailers can best cater to their tastes in its latest report.

“Change was the only constant over the past two years. Radical lifestyle shifts motivated consumers to make intentional, mindful and ambitious decisions,” said Alison Angus, Head of Lifestyles analysis at Euromonitor International.

Over the next ten days, we’ll look at how merchants — from multinationals to startups in niche categories – are riding these trends or falling behind. The first installment in our series captures how Climate Changers are creating waves through the power of shopping:

No. 10: CLIMATE CHANGERS

As the climate emergency escalates, consumers are taking action through the products they purchase. They are choosing more sustainable products from shopping aisles, reducing plastic, cutting food waste and recycling more frequently.

To win over consumers, companies should offer products that are carbon footprint certified. Euromonitor found 39% of professionals said their company plans to invest in low-carbon product innovation and the development of climate-friendly products in a survey last year.

Alibaba Group is among the companies that have pledged to reach carbon neutrality by 2030. We caught up with Dr. Chen Long, the Vice President of Alibaba Group and Chair of the e-commerce giant’s newly created Sustainability Steering Committee. We asked him about the platform operator’s willingness to roll with the changes in society and whatit’s doing to slow climate change.

 “We aim to progressively reduce carbon footprint across our platforms to facilitate the very necessary transition to a more sustainable and inclusive society,” Dr. Chen told Alizila.

Notably, Alibaba has gone a step further than its platform peers and is working with merchants and consumers to slash carbon emissions by 1.5 gigatons across its digital ecosystem by 2035. To do this, it is sharing technical and business-model innovations that  promote low-carbon transition with customers and business partners

“As a platform operator, we hope to leverage our unique capacities to influence and advocate for low-carbon products, services and behavior among a wide range of stakeholders on our digital platforms, including both consumers and merchants in our digital ecosystems,” said Dr. Chen.

Clean beauty — free of parabens, phthalates and other harmful ingredients — has been a particularly fast-growing category in the digital ecosystem.

“I think we should not compromise between luxury and sustainability,” said Nicolas Gerlier, CEO of French clean beauty brand La Bouche Rouge CEO told Alizila. La Bouche Rouge uses recyclable materials including a brush made of castor plant fibres and is one of the companies that Alibaba is working with on its platform.

To be sure, affordability remains a barrier. Last year, 43% of professionals reported that consumers’ lack of willingness to pay a premium for eco-friendly products was slowing the transition to sustainable products; as is sourcing materials that do equally as good a job as the less eco-friendly originals.

Still, Euromonitor found 67% of consumers think they can have a positive impact on the environment through their everyday actions in 2022. Retail is going green.

Watch out for the next instalment in the series tomorrow. No. 9: Backup Planners

Thales will undertake the modifications of the ERTMS (Levels 1 & 2) installations, communications and energy for the new Chamartín station

Source: Thales Group

Headline: Thales will undertake the modifications of the ERTMS (Levels 1 & 2) installations, communications and energy for the new Chamartín station

The contracting for the modification by Thales of the ERTMS (Level 1& 2) (European Rail Traffic Management System) installations, telecommunications and energy of the high speed area in Madrid Chamartín Clara Campoamor station, awarded by Adif Alta Velocidad, is necessary for the new design of the station. This remodeling will lead to an important increase in capacity for the station in terms of traffic as well as train movement and passengers, since it will involve a total of six additional tracks for High-Speed and a new building for controlling them. When the works are completed Madrid Chamartín-Clara Campoamor will be Spain’s largest railway station and one of Europe’s largest.

China’s President Xi Opens Davos Agenda with Call for Greater Global Cooperation to Tackle Common Challenges

Source: World Economic Forum

Public.Affairs@weforum.org

  • China calls for stronger cooperation to defeat COVID-19, revitalize the global economy and realize sustainable development
  • Xi emphasizes caution as major economies consider “U-turn” in their monetary policy
  • Appeal also made to avoid protectionism, unilateralism and the weaponization of economic, scientific and technological issues
  • Watch the full special address and learn more about the Davos Agenda 2022

Geneva, Switzerland, 17 January 2022 – President Xi Jinping of China called for stronger international cooperation in overcoming shared global challenges including defeating COVID-19, revitalizing the economy and addressing climate change, in the opening session of the World Economic Forum’s virtual event, the Davos Agenda 2022.

Xi outlined that the international community is still locked in a tenacious battle against what he called “a once-in-a-century pandemic”. Calling for greater global cooperation, he said: “The fight against the pandemic is proving to be a protracted one. COVID-19 is resurging with different variants and spreading faster than before. He added that shifting blame will only cause delays in response.”

Speaking in a special address to business, government and civil society leaders taking part in the week-long virtual event, he laid out a three-pronged approach to safeguard people’s health. First, countries need to strengthen active cooperation on research and development of medicines. Second, leaders need to build multiple lines of defence against the coronavirus. Third, countries need to fully leverage vaccines by ensuring equitable distribution, boosting vaccination rates and closing the global immunization gap.

Xi said that China is doing its part, having already sent more than 2 billion doses of vaccines to more than 120 countries and international organizations, to be closely followed by at least another 1 billion doses.

As the world emerges from the depths of pandemic gloom, Xi cautioned that several risks threaten to derail economic recovery, including disruptions in global supply chains, tight energy supply and rising commodity prices. He said: “If major economies take a U-turn in their monetary policies, there would be serious negative spillovers which will challenge global economic and financial stability.”

To fully unleash the vitality of the world economy, he also called for less protectionism, especially on trade. Economic globalization is an unstoppable trend which will not veer off course, he said, despite counter-currents along the way: “We should remove barriers, not erect walls. We should open up, not close off. We should seek integration, not de-couple.”

Xi highlighted China’s reform path. He pointed out that China’s domestic growth in 2021 hovered around a healthy 8% annually, with the country achieving its dual target of high growth with low inflation. Nevertheless, he also said Chinese leaders are aware of the further work necessary to achieve prosperity that benefits all people. “We remain committed to reform and opening up,” he said. “A rising tide indeed lifts all boats.”

On climate change, the Chinese president said that China stands ready to help the international community realize the UN 2030 agenda for sustainable development and to achieve carbon neutrality in the long term. He outlined that China would honour its word to achieve carbon peaking by 2030 followed by specific industry plans towards carbon neutrality. Xi pointed out that China has the world’s biggest carbon market and clean energy capability.

Xi also cautioned that “weaponizing economic, scientific and technological issues will gravely undercut international efforts to tackle common challenges”. He said: “Developed countries should take the lead in honouring their emission reductions, deliver on their commitment to financial and technological support and create conditions for developing countries to address climate change,” he added.

Klaus Schwab, the World Economic Forum’s Founder and Executive Chairman, thanked China for taking an active part in collaborative global efforts to combat shared challenges. “The year 2022 will provide a unique opportunity for global leaders to work jointly towards a more inclusive, more sustainable and more prosperous world,” Schwab said. “We must unite despite the different views we hold; ultimately we belong to a single global humanity whose fate is increasingly interconnected.”

About The Davos Agenda 2022
For over 50 years, the World Economic Forum has been the international organization for public-private cooperation. The Davos Agenda 2022 is the focal point at the start of the year for leaders to share their outlook, insights and plans relating to the most urgent global issues. The meeting will provide a platform to accelerate the partnerships needed to tackle shared challenges and shape a more sustainable and inclusive future. Learn more about the programme and view sessions live and on demand.

SAP Women in Tech: The Math Rebel

Source: SAP

Headline: SAP Women in Tech: The Math Rebel

Sarah Detzler has loved numbers ever since she can remember. At the age of six, she knew what she wanted to do when she grew up – study mathematics.

Whenever she mentioned her dream to her family and other people, their response was always the same: “You’re just a little girl, you can’t do that, don’t you want think about something else?” Although it was clear from her schoolwork that she was talented, people still doubted her abilities. Everyone, apart from her teacher, would tell her that studying math was a bad idea. Reactions like these were a constant source of frustration for Sarah: “You have pull through that, even though it’s quite hard work. I knew that’s what I really wanted to do, and that’s why I moved forward, no matter what anyone else said. And now I’m pretty glad that I did.”

SAP Women in Tech: The Math Rebel

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In fact, Sarah completed a doctorate in mathematics and is now a data scientist at SAP. It is her job to help customers make the most of their data, gain insights, and create predictions, enabling them to make better business decisions. “Basically, I’m living the dream I had as a little girl – I get to talk about mathematics the entire day,” she says.

Beating Stereotypes with Humor

Even as a professional, Sarah still encounters stereotyping. She is often the only woman in the room at customer meetings. Sometimes, on being introduced to clients, they automatically assume that one of her male colleagues must be Dr. Detzler the data scientist. “Humor is the best way of handling those situations,” Sarah notes. “Knowing your stuff helps too. When I hold a presentation, after the first five minutes no one has any doubt that I am the data scientist in the room.”

The fact that data and numbers offer a neutral and objective perspective strikes a chord with Sarah – especially because she has experienced bias and is acutely aware of it. Erik Kandel, a neuroscientist and Nobel laureate, estimated that between 80% and 90% of our mind works unconsciously, which means that most of our cognitive processes are based on unconscious conclusions. Sarah says: “Getting this neutral look from the data and seeing that there really is a bias and we can do something about it, or seeing, reflected from the data, how wrong our bias is, that’s something that really excites me and that I didn’t see in any other job.”

Teamwork with a Superhero

Sarah works full-time, her husband part-time. He stayed at home to look after their daughter for the first year after she was born. “It was a natural decision for us, since I was keen to return to work and he enjoys working part-time,” Sarah explains. Though they share tasks, her husband takes on most of the childcare and housework. “My husband is my superhero,“ she says. “We are a great team, the three of us, and this is the only way this can work.”

Being able to do her job from home and fit her hours around caring for her child makes life a lot easier for Sarah and her family. “I really appreciate the flexibility, since it allows me to balance work and family, and spend a lot of time with my daughter,” she adds.

Inspiring Girls to Think Big

She often thinks back to when she was six years old and mad about math. If only there had been female role models to follow and who she could point to and say that women are mathematicians too. But there were hardly any. At university, she was one of just two women on her undergraduate course, and later one of only three PhD students. It was a situation that left Sarah feeling isolated. That is why she encourages young girls whenever she can. “I want to say to them: ‘other women have made it and you can too.’”

Sarah is keen for her daughter to grow up knowing that there are no barriers. She can be an ABAP developer in the cloud, become a data scientist, or embark on a different technical career. “If she wants to do something else, that’s also perfectly fine, but I want it to be her decision. And for her to know that she can do whatever she wants in life.”

SAP Women in Technology

“As a woman working for SAP, you are a ‘woman in tech,’ regardless of what you have studied or graduated in,” says Christine Regitz, head of the company’s global initiative, SAP Women in Tech. The new Women in Tech series covers the successes and opportunities woman have had and the clichés and challenges they’ve encountered. Some entered the IT industry after studying computer science, others via very different routes. Let their stories inspire you!

Shelley Mokoena Takes On the Samsung Bespoke Refrigerator Challenge: Here’s How She Brought Her Vision to Life

Source: Samsung

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – 17 December 2021 – Fashion designer Shelly Mokena, our third influencer in the Samsung Bespoke Refrigerator Challenge, switched things up from ruling the fashion game to competing with two other content creators Cassandra Twala, Naqiya Mayat and Decorex competition entrant Mary-Anne Gwayanya. Shelly, the creative admired for her eye for pleasing aesthetics, brought to life the Samsung Bespoke Refrigerator’s endless potential for personalisation with a fusion of themes.
 

 
Discover how Shelley Mokoena created a showcase of Wabi Sabi in a contemporary style
 
Wanting to incorporate natural textures which create beauty from imperfection, Shelly complemented her BESPOKE vision with clean and sophisticated elements to create a harmonious space. She played around with opposites: masculine and feminine colours, rustic and smooth textures as well as comfortable and minimal pieces to create a warm and inviting space. Drawn to Glam Pink as her BESPOKE Refrigerator colour she was able to incorporate her unique style into a natural and muted space. This gave her the freedom of adding seamless accent colours to a holistic space that felt like warm and inviting. For Shelley, it was a vision that instantly felt like home.
 
Check out Shelly’s video:

 
Each of the four passionate creative minds brought a unique perspective and dimension to the #MySamsungBespokeChallenge, which included a host of partners including Le Creuset, Consentino, TOP Carpets, SHF Decorex Africa, Versus Paints and Design Quarter, who joined forces with Samsung to inspire the contestant’s creativity and spark new ideas. All the challengers received cash cards with funds to spend at sponsors stores, to enhance and complete their allocated living spaces.
 
Your chance to view, vote and stand a chance to win R50 000 e-store Samsung vouchers in the amazing Samsung Bespoke Refrigerator Challenge has been extended. Voting is now opened until midnight, 19th January, 2022.
 
Does Shelly get your VOTE?
 
How to Vote:
 
Visit our Bespoke Home showroom at Design Quarter, and vote for your favourite space* to stand a chance to win Samsung and Design Quarter vouchers; or
Visit the Samsung Bespoke Refrigerator and complete online form to vote and stand a chance to win Samsung and Design Quarter vouchers. You now have until the 19th January 2022 to experience these incredible influencer-designed living spaces at Design Quarter in Fourways or view them online.
*TS & Cs apply.

Banking on the Future with FinTech AI

Source: SAP

Headline: Banking on the Future with FinTech AI

If you’re of a certain generation – like me – I bet you still recall those days before ATMs, financial software, and Excel. Remember standing in line on a Friday afternoon before the bank closed to deposit paychecks and withdraw cash for the weekend? Or having to manually balance checkbooks with the help of a pocket calculator?

Well, those days are long gone, and have been for some time now. There’s a next generation of banking and financial technology, or FinTech, and it is already upon us.

FinTech involves artificial intelligence (AI), specifically communication AI. Belarusky Narodny Bank (BNB-Bank), a finalist for the 2021 SAP Innovation Awards, offers up-to-date, efficient, and user-friendly digital banking while also striving for sustainable innovation.

Dimensional AI Chat

BNB-Bank uses SAP Conversational AI, a chatbot-building service, with Skybuffer’s Hybrid Chat added as an extension. Hybrid Chat has preconfigured banking scenarios that are customizable, extendable, and scalable. In addition to the Hybrid Chat, Skybuffer offers analysis, reporting, and digital core integration.

Together, SAP Conversational AI and Skybuffer can boost language processing. The AI is trained in English, but translates into Belarusian and Russian so that the voice-enabled intelligent assistant distinguishes between the two. How cool is that?

Since using SAP Conversational AI and Skybuffer, BNB-Bank aligned an 80% automation level in their cognitive channels in the first months of productive use, a 100% increase in lead generation from Web and social media, and over 40 customer requests a day are served from the Web site.

Banking Benefits – From Toasters to Cash

Banks have always offered incentives to customers. Some of the vintage advertising I’ve seen tells me that U.S. banks used to give away toasters for new bank accounts so frequently that it became an expectation. I got a plastic piggy bank the first time I opened a savings account! These days, there are cash offer incentives. Though it makes sense, money takes away a certain intangible feeling from our banking experiences – it adds even more meaning to “cold, hard cash.”

Perhaps the biggest benefit with the chat is the seamless connection to a third person into the dialogue while keeping the chatbot active, making it a three-peer model between the customer, the chatbot, and an agent. The customer can communicate with the chatbot and the agent simultaneously, significantly increasing the quality of care.

Beam Me Up! The FinTech AI Future

Not only can SAP Conversational AI automate customer support, but it also can analyze topics of customer requests and channels used for their interests. Are you interested in special discounts at local businesses, investment opportunities, balance transfers and debt consolidation, or a loan? The products and services information will be served automatically.

It seems as if financial tools stay the same for long periods of time, but when they do change, it’s very large leaps forward into the future. This is just the beginning for AI. I wonder where we’ll land next.

To learn more about Belarusky Narodny Bank’s solution, view its SAP Innovation Awards 2021 pitch deck.


Rajshree Chauhan is an SAP Global Marketing contributor.

artnet AG: Artnet Data and Analytics show key developments of art market in 2021, Indicate growth for 2022

Source: Media Outreach

Post-War and Contemporary Art show strongest growth
Price development highlights Fine Art’s attractiveness as alternative asset
Pablo Picasso, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol most expensive artists in 2021
More than $14 Billion worth of art sold at auction in 2021
Artnet developing AI-supported analytics and predictive technology

NEW YORK, US / BERLIN, GERMANY – EQS Newswire – 17 January 2022 – Artnet AG, the leading platform for art market data and media, and the global marketplace for fine art will deploy more resources to further develop its AI-supported analytics and business intelligence products. The development of predictive technologies will be instrumental for data-driven decision making, especially in terms of art secured lending, fractionalization, and other financial products.
Over the past few years, and especially in the wake of the pandemic, art has rapidly developed into a viable alternative asset. With over $14 Billion worth of fine art sold at auction last year, a hefty increase in comparison to the $10.1 Billion 2020 total sales, more and more family offices, collectors, and banks are turning to Fine Art as a viable investment.
The Artnet Business Intelligence team can reveal that especially Post War and Contemporary Art are showing strong returns, with data suggesting growth in line with the S&P500. Modern Art and Impressionist Art are on a steady upwards trajectory. Old Master paintings are experiencing more tepid growth.
The top 10 performing artists over the past year, according to Artnet’s Database, were Pablo Picasso ($657 Million), Jean-Michel Basquiat ($414 Million), Andy Warhol ($341 Million), Claude Monet ($305 Million), Vincent van Gogh ($235 Million), Gerhard Richter ($225 Million), Banksy ($201 Million), Cy Twombly ($181 Million), Zhang Daqian ($160 Million), and Yayoi Kusama ($146 Million). The NFT breakout artist Beeple is among the top 20 highest grossing artists of 2021.
Artnet ended the year 2021 as its strongest performance ever. A pioneering force in the digitization of the art industry, Artnet’s global, highly-curated, and data-driven platform has been critical in supporting the continued growth of the art market.

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