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How innovation, resilience and lived experiences can pave the way to a better future

Welcome to the TCS Summit Europe 2022, where the theme this year is The Dawn of the Sustainable Enterprise. We’re going to be covering the action from Lisbon, drilling down into the packed agenda. 

Head of TCS Europe, Sapthagiri Chapalapalli, gave the opening address, which was followed by multiple sessions on how innovation, resilience and lived experiences can pave the way to a better future.

What’s clear is that purpose-led enterprise needs to be at the heart of building a more sustainable future. That thinking is at the heart of our own Building on Belief mission, and to help foster that we are welcoming leading industry and celebrity speakers to share their knowledge and values. We will hear from politicians, futurists, and racing car drivers.

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Key themes

The agenda was arranged around three themes: Experiential — how it’s important to keep the focus on people as businesses adopt technology; Innovation — how best to build a culture of development that can help organizations remain agile and transformative; and Resilience — the ability to respond to new challenges and opportunities by making sure resilience is built in across all aspects of our engagement. Read more about the different sessions and see the speakers here.

This blog will encapsulate what’s going on at the summit, with snippets, key points and photographs. Check in to keep on top of the discussions.

DAY 1

Resilience, thriving and sustainable business

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Opening remarks on resilience and thriving

Day 1 began with TCS Head of Europe, Saptha Chapalapalli, opening the conference with a note acknowledging the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and how TCS is helping support communities across Europe during this time.

After welcoming guests to Lisbon, including members of TCS leadership team, our valued customers, the mayor of Lisbon, Carlos Moedas, and His Excellency, the ambassador of India to Portugal, Chapalapalli noted how resilience has been a hallmark of recent years, when companies faced challenges, including pandemic-related and supply-chain-related disruptions.

“The way we shop, where we teach our children, nothing has been left untouched in business or society, by the pandemic,” he said. “The challenges we faced and the actions we have taken give us an opportunity, right now, to reflect and understand what sustainable business really means. And now, the question is, what will the dawn of the sustainable enterprise really look like? And how do we all make it a reality?”

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Building resilient businesses and fostering strong partnerships and ecosystems are the keys to success. It’s also important to institutionalise innovation and creativity to solve the many faceted challenges of today and of the future. The TCS summit plays a part in that, helping to define a vision for sustainable enterprise, and one that is human-centric, he said, with all delegates looking forward to a productive debate. 

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Bringing people together

Innovation, resilience & experience

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Innovation, resilience and experience are driving modern enterprise

The Mayor of Lisbon, Carlos Moedas, gave a keynote address centering on the themes of innovation, resilience and experience and how these are the defining characteristics of cities such as Lisbon.

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Collaboration is central to innovation and cities like Lisbon bring people together. Drawing on the writing of Walter Isaacson, who explored how the ability to collaborate and master the art of teamwork made successful innovators even more creative, Moedas said innovation often comes from people who are able to link beauty to engineering, humanity to technology and poetry to processors.

“In other words, it will come from creators who can flourish where the arts intersect with sciences, and who have a rebellious sense of wonder,” he said. “That's the purpose one should look for. It's the purpose of intersecting to create new things.”

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Moedas also spoke about being solutions-focused, rather than becoming too ideological — it is important in cities to work together to build solutions with people. He spoke of the creation of a citizens assembly in Lisbon, where the people of the city are involved in the construction of solutions to the challenges the city faces.

“Forget about ideology, solve it,” he told delegates. “Do it.”

Formula E: Ecosystems of innovation driving sustainable business

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Change in the automotive industry

The huge change in the automotive industry was the focus of a talk by Jaguar Land Rover’s executive director, strategy & sustainability, François Dossa. From the rapid introduction of electric propulsion to a clear vision for sustainable materials and manufacturing all through the supply chain, Jaguar Land Rover is transforming its business.

The focus on sustainability means ambitious goals, including to have zero tailpipe emissions by 2036 and to be net zero carbon across the entire business by 2039.

Through a multi-year partnership based on shared values, TCS and Jaguar are pioneering research and innovation in Formula E with the creative use of data and insights from the racetrack helping to shape the electric vehicle ecosystem.

“That's exactly what this partnership is about,” Dossa said. “Harnessing our collective knowledge to work towards a more sustainable future in the automotive and motorsport sectors.”

Racing teaches the importance of collaboration and teamwork. And the circular economy is also deeply dependent on collaboration. One example of this in action is how batteries from vehicles can be reused or find a second life.

British racing driver Sam Bird joined the Summit and talked about the potential for racing to deliver a broader message about sustainability. The 34-year-old driver has competed in every race since the series began in 2014 and has 11 wins to date overall, his most recent in Diriyah and New York City for Jaguar TCS Racing.

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“Sport excites people like nothing else on the planet,” he said. “When I see a group of young people come and see the racecar, and you can see the smile on their faces, and they go home and really think about what they've seen and what they've learned when coming to an event at Formula E, that generation is the generation that will take this forward, help our planet, help our climate, and push forwards electric mobility.” 

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Sam Bird: “Sport excites people like nothing else”

To read more about the partnership between TCS and Jaguar, click here.

DAY 2

Collective knowledge, innovation, and technology key to sustainable growth

If Day One focused on the importance of collaboration and ecosystems for businesses, Day Two sessions highlighted the practical side showing how the two concepts help in building a sustainable business that is fit to face the future.

In her address, Catherine Crump, Managing Director of WIRED Consulting, gave the Summit a taste of what technologies are likely to shape the coming years.

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Focused on the future

Reimagining boundaries and seamless collaboration

The keynote address, given by Rajesh Gopinathan, CEO and Managing Director, TCS, focused on the factors needed for sustainable growth and how to embrace this in a practical way. Enterprises must recode themselves and build agility and adaptability into their DNA. Two strands are needed, he said — having organisational processes and systems that are agile and being able to adapt them as necessary to face new challenges.

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Enterprises need to build adaptability into their DNA

“Sustainable growth is no longer a choice, but it is almost mandated on all of us, to all of our stakeholders and more importantly, from the values that we hold dear and what we believe in,” he told the delegates. “To grow sustainability, we must harvest collective knowledge, innovation and technology.”

Having a purpose sits at the core of being a sustainable business, he said, while also speaking of the importance of retaining customer-centricity: how being competitive means offering what customers want and evolving continuously to meet that.

Reimagining boundaries is also essential for seamless collaboration.

“The organisation of the future is going to have porous boundaries,” Gopinathan said. “To be able to collaborate seamlessly across the entire ecosystem, this idea of mentally accepting porous boundaries, and technologically creating it, will be a theme of what successful organisations look like.”

How to be adaptive and resilient and how to respond to the environment in a tactical way were themes of his talk. Being able to quickly reconfigure and take on the shock of unexpected change are traits of successful organisations, and this was laid bare by the pandemic.

In practice, this includes one of TCS’ customers in the insurance space, who defines its purpose as making everything more resilient, and that enabled them to open up new business streams. 

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The power of ecosystems

This might also include working collaboratively with governments to create products that are currently not available and then making them available.

Another example is how TCS can help companies quantify and examine their supply chains to support the long-term purpose of getting to net zero in them.

“This is again an example of how large companies have the power to both support and encourage and incentivise a much wider ecosystem that they touch to shift to the purpose that they seek to achieve,” Gopinathan said.

TCS can be the enabler of this change with its technologies.

“We are aligning ourselves to try and see how we actually tie the dots together,” he said. “To go from envisioning it to experimenting with it to testing and then scaling it.”

This includes designing workshops, inventing spaces for people to come together with a common vision and try to find solutions or fresh ideas. TCS is bringing together partners, customers, and executives in this way.

“They start taking this and using this sandbox to come up with more tangible things that they can take back to the organisation and test out,” the TCS CEO said. “We know what we want and where we want to go to collectively, and almost everyone has a common vision of what we want to achieve – but how we get there will be the differentiator of success.”

Operating models for the future

Using the power of ecosystems to solve problems that cannot be solved alone was one of the themes of the panel on operating models for the future, with participants from Bayer AG, Generali Vitality GmbH, and Marks and Spencer Group plc in conversation with K Ananth Krishnan, EVP and CTO of TCS.

Technology, execution, and ecosystems are three of the key aspects to consider when thinking about operating models and how they are changing, K Ananth Krishnan said.

“Without execution, nothing is useful at all,” he added. “Execute iteratively and at scale. And use the power of the ecosystem to solve problems.”

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All of the business executives on the panel said their value chains and operating models are evolving at speed. Rob Barnes, Chief Technology Officer for Food & Retail at Marks and Spencer, said, working on supply chain resilience had been a hallmark of recent years and that this was likely to continue.

“You have to have the agility to move very quickly; to move supply, to move your customer proposition,” he said. “If you do not, you will not survive.”

Demands on the operating model and from customers are increasing, and this increases the challenges that businesses need to respond to.

“In the complex world of food retail, the number of challenges is only ever increasing,” Barnes said. “To be able to do that sustainably and at scale is phenomenally complex.”

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New ways of operating were discussed

The different levels of expectation of customers and how that changes the way businesses need to respond was also a key factor for Simon Guest, CEO, Generali Vitality GmbH.

“They expect a more personalised experience, and they expect to get some value out of the relationship that they have with any company they are buying a product from, even something like life and health insurance,” Guest said.

Vitality is still responding to this shift and learning how to make it work.

“It is about reimagining the relationship with our customer and what is our purpose and offer?” he said. “It is time — and we have been doing it for five-six years — to stop talking about death and sickness, and to start talking about life and health and wellbeing and the positive future for customers.”

For Bijoy Sagar, EVP and CIDO at Bayer AG, it’s all about how ecosystems are built, how they work and about instilling resilience. That means making sure the “last mile” of the ecosystem is included, and for Bayer this means farmers, growers, patients, and healthcare providers.

“In many cases we have recognised we have built a good foundation with data and analytics but now we have to think about the basics,” Sagar said. “Things like edge computing: have we built infrastructure that is resilient?”

When thinking about resilience, the core business must be kept front of mind, said Krishnan. Just surviving is not enough, technology and purpose-led ecosystems must lead change — and that means constantly thinking about the jobs your customers may ask you to do in the future. Experimenting with these basic building blocks will help bring about effective change in the core business and help to make it futureproof.

“It has to be successful and deliver what it is supposed to deliver,” he told delegates. “That is non-negotiable. That means continuous improving.”

Alongside that there is what the panel called “blue-sky thinking” about wider issues such as sustainability and climate change. All these elements should be run in parallel: for example, 50% of time spent on the operating model and the core business, 20% on technology, 20% on ecosystems and 10% on blue sky challenges.

What the panelists had in common was that their operating models are constantly evolving, their ecosystems are expanding and they are adapting for the future.

Collaboration for regeneration and working together

The second panel of the day covered ‘Ecosystems for a Regenerative World’ with Barbara Karuth-Zelle, COO and Member of the Board of Management of Allianz SE, Tony Kassimiotis, Group Chief Operating Officer of The Phoenix Group and NG Subramaniam, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director, TCS.

The speakers concluded that in collaborating for regeneration, companies and sectors must work together and share information in the most seamless way possible. Sustainability is defined very broadly as a large agenda and as being about doing less harm.

“We need to be inspiring people and we need to get inspired,” said Subramaniam. “We all need inspiration.”

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Businesses have a duty to consider climate change, nature and biodiversity, and pollution, he said. Action is mandated now by all stakeholders, and an example of this is customers asking questions about diversity and inclusivity and about carbon footprints, as well as about price and delivery times. These big themes need to be considered at the very top of the organization.

Collaboration was a thread running through the whole Summit and it was also a theme for this panel.

“If there is one good thing in a pandemic, it is that it taught us to really collaborate,” said Barbara Karuth-Zelle. “To go across the globe and outside of company boundaries.”

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Breaking boundaries

The pandemic also showed how success can be delivered regardless of location, she said. With the use of technology, Allianz delivered fully in Africa with a team from India. That’s not just a business success learning, but also has a broader environmental implication.

“They have never met physically in real life, it was all done remotely,” she said. “This is something we really need to take because it reduces travel, reduces paper, reduces waste. This is exactly the way to go.”

Working together will be key to success in terms of sustainability, according to Tony Kassimiotis, with companies coming together in areas that they may have traditionally competed in. And sustainability considerations will shape partnerships in a way that they haven’t before, for example in supply chain interrogation.

“We have opened up conversation with our top suppliers, set the standards, we have sent an open letter to the industry, and all suppliers have read that open letter,” Kassimiotis said. “They are clear about our expectations, clear about the organisations we want to do business with and have no misconception about what we are expecting.”

This idea was underscored by Karuth-Zelle, who said it’s important for everyone to be pulling in the same direction.

“Behind that is a bunch of companies working together, and I think the same, embedding sustainability criteria into the standards of our partners,” she said. “If everybody does it we can get it going much faster.”

Subramaniam believes technology will aid the speed of progress. “Technology is the enabler,” he told the delegates. “More and more of every business is getting embedded into technology. The pandemic has clearly proved that technology is the way. It has helped in resilience, sustainability and so on.” 

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Discussing solutions

TCS’ work with Petronas in Malaysia is one example of small ecosystems coming together to foster sustainability, creating employment for young people in a sustainable way. Each year 500 people from one town are accepted on to a program of education about STEM and technology and put in touch with avenues for employment, including at TCS.

“We are in the business of technology,” said. Subramaniam. “So, our role is that we will build technology to solve these problems.”

Examples include developing platforms that track carbon exposure and help companies on their journey toward carbon neutrality, and tools that help employees track their own carbon contributions.

Future gazing: business trends that are transforming industries

The world in a flux was the theme of an address by Catherine Crump, the MD of WIRED Consulting, who centered her speech around three topics: Now, Next, and Beyond.

Opening up with a look at how transformative technology has been over the past 30 years, in terms of the internet and smartphones, she drew attention to the number of people who are now connected to the internet, which was around 59% of the world in June 2020, up from 5.8% in 2000. 

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Catherine Crump, MD of WIRED Consulting, addresses the summit

“Nanotechnology, cloud computing, the internet itself. It is when these things come together that really amazing innovation becomes possible,” Crump said. “That is what has fuelled a lot of recent changes that we are seeing and that is what we can expect to drive the really significant changes that you are going to be seeing in the years ahead.”

Now

For the three hot topics of now, Crump chose cyber security, sustainable business and data and AI. Cyber security threats are increasing, with 2021 a record year for data breaches and 2022 looking likely to surpass that, she said. And it’s not just about the absolute numbers: the sophistication is also increasing and the hacker economy is booming.

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In terms of sustainable business, companies have moved from talk to action, with more pledges to reduce emissions and carbon. Many have chosen to start small with actions like conserving office energy at weekends or interrogating supply chains to ensure suppliers are acting responsibly.

Artificial intelligence was the third theme of Now, with its potential only just beginning to be tapped. As more people connect to the internet, particularly in developing countries, there will be more data to fuel AI, taking it to the next level, she said.

Next

Industry 4.0, changes to e-commerce and the metaverse are the topics of tomorrow, according to Crump.

“When you start to think about industry 4.0, it really builds on the computerisation and digitisation of what’s coming before,” she told the delegates. “But it brings everything together — so data, systems, processes — and it sees them all talking to each other in this connected ecosystem.”

Business 4.0 is about the potential of different technologies coming together, and this includes the power of robotics and adaptive robots.

The rapid changes in e-commerce were the second theme, with mobile-commerce (or M-commerce) taking over and the booming trend toward subscriptions continuing to evolve. Quick-commerce, or Q-commerce, is also taking hold, with ultra-quick (under 10-minute, for example) deliveries.

Finally, the metaverse, a network of 3D virtual worlds designed to foster social connection at scale. There is huge potential for businesses in the metaverse and also great societal opportunities, for example politicians or mayors engaging in a dialogue through virtual avatars with much greater audiences.

Beyond

For beyond, she alighted on quantum computing, future energy, and brain computer interfaces.

Quantum computing, which has the potential to speed up processes exponentially, “is an amazing example of transformative change that we can see hurtling towards us,” Crump said. “This is an area in which businesses, venture capitalists and governments are investing heavily. Because of that, it is developing quickly.” 

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Ideas for beyond

“Future energy is particularly important in today’s context,” she said, citing examples of how advances in hydrogen technology and in nuclear processes may unlock different energy sources.

“The last thing is these brain and computer interfaces,” Crump said. “This is people talking to machines with their minds. This really is becoming a reality.”

Embracing these themes requires agility on behalf of companies.

“It is trying and having a go,” Crump said, rounding off day two with reference to a core theme of the day: experimentation. “Have a go. See if it works.”

DAY 3

Dealing with change, be ready for the uncertain

After an action-packed Day Two that focused on being adaptive and ready for the future, Day Three looked at the perspectives for the future and how best to deal with change.

At the start of the day, five CIOs gave individual presentations on how they are preparing for change.

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Three key success factors

Starting the day’s proceedings, Kirsten Renner, the CIO of Credit Suisse outlined her three learnings when developing and launching new products.

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Lessons on product development

Firstly, create a movement of people that challenges the status quo and who are happy to experiment with new ways of working. Secondly, put a spotlight on success, ask people about how they have experimented, the value they created (or not), how it was measured, and what will happen in the future. This helps drive engagement. Thirdly, don’t shy away from feedback. Encourage people to be open and honest, even if it feels uncomfortable, but still respectful and constructive.

The future is going to be uncertain

Since the only given is that there will be uncertainty, organisations need to be adaptive and to adapt at the first moment something changes, said John Elliot, Chief Technology Officer – Colleague & Operations of Sainsbury's. He shared some things Sainsbury’s learned from the pandemic.

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A consumer-centric approach to retail 

“What happened is that our customers started to change their behaviour,” Elliot said. “And we had to respond quickly because of the usual things that we knew to be true as retailers, all about value, availability, quality. This changed overnight.”

There was a spike in demand for home delivery and a need to prioritise those who needed them most. Using its own data, Sainsbury’s was able to identify customers who were most in need of the delivery slots before the government told them.

Using technology helped the senior executives connect with staff in stores and understand what they needed.

“In the first week of the pandemic, our chief executive could speak to every single store manager, to say, what do you need? How can we help you? What do you need to serve our customers and keep our colleagues safe in store?” he said. “This engagement was so powerful, so important, it turned what was a worry for many to a moment of immense pride. People became connected to the organisation in a way that [they] never felt before.”

The main learning is that organisations should be customer-centric and that they need to be as ready as they can be for uncertainty and things that you cannot predict.

How fast can you go?

How can organisations gain velocity, support innovation and sustain that, asked Kris Tokarzewski, CTIO at Vitality UK. The digital transformation of the back end, of legacy systems, is just as important as the more visible ones, he said.

With all changes, it is important to think big, start small, and scale fast.

With technology, it is the human touch that matters

Advances in technology and communication mean we can reduce our travel and still be effective and connected and this plays into sustainability, said Mats Hultin, Group CIO, Ericsson.

TCS and Ericsson are using blockchain to build digital capabilities and a framework around how that’s being used, and it connects to business values. He shared a picture of “a typical agile team” with people from both TCS and from Ericsson — you cannot see who comes from TCS and who comes from Ericsson, showing just how integrated the team is.

“Having really empowered agile teams everywhere is the most important thing,” Hultin said. “So even if I started off with technology, it is the humans that matter.”

Deep digital transformations

Guido Lemeire, CIO, NMBS-SNCB (Belgium Rail) talked about his company’s partnership with TCS that focuses on getting its strategy right and anticipating the future. This took the form of six major transformations in parallel. The first one was migrating to a new data centre and the company deployed a new operating mode in parallel, designed to make it more agile.

The company is also working with TCS to shore up its future and map out its digital transformation over the next 10 years.

“We had nine months of in-depth discussions. We always raised three simple questions. Where do you want to go for operational excellence?” he said. “The second one, where do you want a difference? Last but not least, where do you want to innovate? It needs to go beyond playing with technology.”

The Experience Economy — driving shared success and value creation

Reimagine, redefine and re-engineer were three of the themes in a session moderated by Ashok Krish, Global Head of Digital Workplaces, TCS. Krish opened by considering how expectations have changed across the board, both from the consumer side and the employer side and how employee-user journeys and customer-user journeys have come together. 

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Technology and people

“Customers and employees all expect more,” said Maria Ervik Løvold, Group EVP of Technology & Services, DNB Bank. “They want things delivered faster, quicker, seamless, and at the same time they want a pizza delivered at the door. That is more difficult when you come to a mortgage, for example. At the same time, we see that our employees are also our customers; and they have the same expectations, both when it comes to tooling and when it comes to working with modern technology.”

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That means that companies have to change and improve their IT operating models all the time.

Aart Slagt, EVP Information Services and CIO, KLM, agreed that people and staff make the difference.

KLM’s purpose is “creating memorable experiences for our customers in a sustainable way”, and that is aided by data, he said, because data helps customers feel recognised: for example, by knowing that a customer had a previous bad experience or that it is someone’s birthday.

Attracting and retaining talent in an era of conscious capitalism was also a theme. For Maria Ervik Løvold, this is about having firm statements and commitments in the ESG (environmental, social, and governance) area and having a purpose that employees can relate to.

“Employees really want to have a voice,” said Antony Elliott, Head of Digital R&D, Zurich Insurance and Chairman of the board at B3i. “And that is something we can, as part of our employee experience, capture. Enabling that voice and that democracy within the company, the activism of the company is important as well.”

Technology can help bring people together and improve training, said Slagt.

“For instance, we have a virtual reality academy where we train our crew to set up the cockpit instead of using a real simulator,” he said. “They can do it at home in virtual reality. Instead of setting an aircraft on fire and training in real life, the cabin crew can train in virtual reality.”

Elliott said there’s an expectation on all companies to deliver sustainability. Technologies offer some of the answers, though it is about everything connected to the organisation.

“The buildings, how we can do smart cleaning, how we can make the buildings more energy efficient,” he said. “It is something that our society really doesn’t have a choice about. There is no planet B, as they say.”

Improving resilience and being prepared

Improving resilience was the theme of an address from José Manuel Barroso, Chairman, Goldman Sachs International and former Prime Minister of Portugal, and former President of the European Commission, who said that sometimes a crisis is needed to take steps forward and clarify thinking.

Environmental, social and governance concerns and health should be a priority for corporate leaders, he said, together with showing commitment to the goals of stability and the stability of the planet. 

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Crisis can help society move forward: José Manuel Barroso

“One big part of the response to what I have been saying is technology,” he said. “I’m delighted to speak with such an important company like yours. Technology and science are going to give us some of the answers.”

Now more than ever, we need renewable energy; and we don’t want to be dependent on fossil fuels, while this view is shared around the world, there is less agreement on the transition, on how to get there.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning and other technologies have many positive uses and can help solve these problems. As well as technology, leadership is also critically important, he added.

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How can we be more regenerative? Summing up the three days

As the summit wrapped up, Amit Kapur, Head of TCS UK and Ireland, thanked the participants and speakers for an insightful few days and asked, how we can move from doing less harm to doing more good in the era of sustainable enterprise.

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“How do we ensure that we continue the journey of enterprise but essentially, the call to action and the blueprint for sustainable growth?” he said. “That is the call to action. For all this, as enterprises, to reflect and put in a clear action plan towards that.” 

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Rounding off the summit