"Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam..." - Carl Sagan, American astrophysicist and author.
Today is Earth Day, when we celebrate the pale blue dot that Carl Sagan was moved to write about after he saw the blurry image from a photograph the Voyager 1 space probe had taken. Voyager 1 was heading farther into interstellar space at the time when this photograph was taken. Shooting these images were not originally planned, but Sagan, a member of the Voyager imaging team at the time, came up with the idea of turning the spacecraft back toward its home for a last look. Voyager 1's gesture was all too human, a kind of final farewell to the planet, which led Sagan, who also created the popular documentary Cosmos in the 1970s, to write an emotional essay about our place in the grand scheme of things. He reminded us eloquently and indelibly that our island home is indeed a finite and limited resource.
This Earth Day, 150 global leaders will sign the COP21 Paris climate agreement, a legally binding and universal accord on climate that aims to keep global warming below 2°C. This historic agreement, said to be the biggest international climate agreement, will begin to start changing the way more people think about their surroundings. It's no easy task to ask a country that depends on oil exports, for example, to sign a treaty condemning fossil fuels. From a business perspective, fossil fuels are affordable and abundant. Attempting to wean our societies off cheap, abundant sources of energy takes fortitude and commitment. It can also be very difficult for a government to enforce a climate agreement because the business of this pale blue dot is business.
Yet there are several encouraging instances of government endeavor. Just to cite an example, the oil-rich emirate of Abu Dhabi built an entire community - Masdar City - in the middle of the Arabian desert to showcase alternative, sustainable energies. I think it's fantastic that an oil-rich country uses some of its wealth to develop wind farms, solar technology, and even green roofs that keep the buildings below them cool, with the vegetation blocking out the sun's oppressive heat. It's been said that if a part of that very same desert about the size of Austria were to be outfitted with solar panels, vast amounts of the Middle East could live off the energy those panels collect.
Recently, Elon Musk, CEO - Tesla Motors, announced that the company has received 400,000 orders for its Model 3, a sedan at USD 35,000, which can reach a range of 215 miles per charge. Thus, showing the world that sustainable transportation is an actionable near- future. In 2014, Tesla had released its patents to public for "the advancement of electric vehicle technology".
I am an optimist and have immense faith in power of the collective - of governments, businesses, influential private citizens, and the common people. While many are skeptical about the symbolic celebrations of various 'Day's through the year, these are bringing about unimaginable consciousness about our planet as well as a sense of the collective. Take the instance of Earth Day itself. It was first celebrated on April 22, 1970 - at a time when 'environment', 'pollution', 'green energy', etc., were discussed only in academic circles. Today, in its 46th year, Earth Day has started a culture of environmental awareness and protection on a global scale. And brought together leaders from 150 countries to put into action a tool to fight climate change - for real.
These are times of great endeavors and optimism for planet Earth. In many ways, we seem to be getting the perspective of Voyager 1 in 1990 - that this Pale Blue Dot is ours, to keep and cherish.
*Image sourced from: http://occamslastrazor.com/2015/carl-sagan-storytelling-and-the-pale-blue-dot/
Today is Earth Day and it is also the day more than 150 global leaders will sign the COP21 Paris climate agreement, committing their countries to cutting carbon pollution and combatting climate change. At Infosys, we care deeply about the goals these events envision: a brighter future fuelled by clean and renewable energy and a world protected from harmful climate change. But for Infosys, it's about more than one day - it's our everyday commitment. In fact, we're on our way to becoming one of only a handful of companies in the world to be truly carbon neutral - a goal we hope to achieve by 2018.
We strive to be responsible corporate and global citizens because we believe we all must help mitigate the global crisis that is climate change. It threatens communities and companies alike. From Silicon Valley to Bangalore; its impacts will be severe. Growing pollution, hotter temperatures, increasingly scarce resources, and rising seas will not only affect the health of our communities, but the businesses and supply chains of our industry. Cutting carbon pollution with clean energy is one big way we can help.
Investing in clean, renewable energy can also play a critical role in making sure the power we use helps the environment, but also our customers. We can't risk outages. So, like other large companies, Infosys relies on diesel generators to ensure an uninterrupted supply of power. But diesel is expensive and carbon-heavy and renewable energy like solar offers a far cleaner, and increasingly affordable alternative.
With stellar leadership from my colleague Ramadas Kamath, executive vice president of infrastructure and facilities who's heading our sustainability efforts and his incredible team, our commitment to be carbon neutral by 2018 is built on two pillars: to cut our per capita electricity consumption in half; and to rely on renewable power for all our electricity needs.
To cut usage, we've made a big energy efficiency push in our buildings. Retrofitting air-conditioning systems with new efficiency technology, we saved nearly 13.5 megawatts in the last four years. That's enough power to run several of our campuses for a whole year. Replacing conventional lighting fixtures with sensors and efficient LEDs, we reduced total lighting energy consumption by 60 percent. And, as a technology company, data is crucial. Monitoring each piece of systems equipment in our new buildings, we can identify and eliminate wasted power. In real-time.
We're making real headway. We've installed 12 megawatts of solar on our campuses across India. Our campus in Hyderabad Pocharam is 100 percent solar-powered - with cutting edge energy efficiency, real-time data monitoring, and climate-designed solar panels. The rooftop solar plant has a total capacity of 7.2 megawatts and is expected to generate 12 million kilowatts per annum, reducing the company's CO2 emissions by 9,200 tons. And from 2014 to 2015, nearly 30 percent of our electricity came from renewables, putting us in good company among other tech leaders: in 2015, Facebook got 25 percent of its energy from renewables; Google got 35 percent.
There's more to be done, but we're not alone. Infosys, Google, BMW, IKEA, Microsoft and more are part of the RE100 campaign, a global initiative of industry leaders committed to utilizing 100% renewable energy. As political leaders drive collective government action to combat climate change, Infosys is proud to join business leaders to do their part too.
From Earth Day to COP21, today is a big day for the climate and for climate awareness. Today, the world recognizes that climate change is no small threat. Combatting it will be no small task. But at Infosys, we're proud to say our carbon neutral push is no small feat. It's our everyday commitment.
This year's Confluence - our annual thought leadership summit - has the makings of a blockbuster with its compelling content, transformational experiences, and innovations that people can pick up and apply straight off to their businesses. Whether it's the latest ideas for continuous business reinvention, exciting new ways to automate with maximum payoff or experiential learning in how intelligent platforms can create unprecedented capabilities, Confluence captures it all in a choice of experiences that delegates can then pick and choose from to build out their own personal Confluence. It offers the perfect platform for problem-finding, for people to ask why, and why not, even as it brings together client leaders, academicians, influencers and the who's who of the world of technology and business for three days of looking, learning, sharing and improving.
For us, it is a huge opportunity to bring home the value of the amazing work we do for clients - the Infosys technology that flies planes, that makes drugs safer, that assures parents that their teens are driving cars safely, and in ways little and large making our world a better place to be. Better still, Confluence will create forums for all of us to learn from each other, to build new and renew old relationships, to outline our vision for our own business and our clients', based on innovation, automation and lifelong learning, and thus deliver the promise of brand Infosys.
While Confluence is an incredibly powerful expression of all that Infosys is and can be, we understand that it is but one stop on a continuum of touch points where our stakeholders can experience who we are, what we do, and what we stand for. Confluence lasts three days in a year of three hundred and sixty five. And we fully appreciate that every one of those days presents us with a compelling opportunity to leave our brand stronger than it was the day before. Every Infoscion knows these opportunities lie in everything we aspire to and actually do at work. For instance, every project that we undertake is our chance to discover that big problem that has defied resolution until now, and to bring in our collective imagination, conviction and knowledge to help solve it. In fact, in many ways, Confluence is a showcase of this spirit of curious exploration and innovation. It will bring together the world of business - from the Fortune 500 to startups - to show how we might do things differently, do more of the untried and untested, and do it all collaboratively while teaching and learning from each other. So, together we build an ecosystem that anticipates and delivers on the end users' expectations, even before they articulate it.
For us building brand Infosys is not about logo-keeping. It's not about our messages of advertisement and promotion. And it's certainly not just an annual event (even one as imposing and well-attended as Confluence!) lasting three days. It's a way of being that we've prescribed for ourselves that marketing alone cannot entirely and solely shape. Brand Infosys is not only about our innovations, our technologies, our learning, our strengths and successes. Brand Infosys is all of that. And all of us.
And it is that brand Infosys that's on showcase to be experienced at Confluence 2016. Be there to catch the action live. Else, follow it in near real-time @InfyConfluence #InfosysConfluence
"It'll never happen. Not in a thousand years."
That was the general response in the United States when Henry Ford began marketing his Model T to the masses. The reason there were naysayers: To accommodate a horseless carriage, the country would have to build a massive network of paved roadways and have refueling stations in almost every town. Think about it: Every town in America with a place where a driver could refill the tank of his automobile with gasoline?
I would even digress to the smear campaign staged against gasoline processors by those companies that made the main fuel of the day - kerosene. Gasoline stood to drive kerosene producers out of business.
But it all happened. Not in a thousand years but in less than five. When the market places a great demand for a product or service, supply inevitably follows.
Which is what is happening today, more than one century after the appearance of the internal combustion engine and the horseless carriage radically changed the way we travel. In the next couple of months, Tesla Motors will have 105 charging stations in the New York City borough of Manhattan. Currently there are 40 gas stations in Manhattan. That means that there will be more than double the amount of places to charge your electric car than to refill at the gas pump.
Now I know what you're thinking: The Tesla is a super-luxury car that is the toy of the super-rich. True, but so were cars in 1900. Increasingly the market for electric automobiles will expand to accommodate middle-class consumers. Even more charging stations will appear. And then one wonders what the traditional automakers will do. Will they dig in their heels and assume the engine of old will continue to be in in demand? Or will they, too, offer their own electric models? (Some already do. General Motors unveiled its marvelous EV-1 coupe around 1990.)
"A year ago, the garages were saying, 'Whoa, what's this thing?'" a Tesla-owner recently said to the press. "But now they know what to do - you can just leave it and say 'plug it in' and come back in an hour." I believe people are yet to grasp the importance of this. Nor have they grasped another development courtesy of Tesla - its recent introduction of its Version 7.0 operating system, also named Autopilot.
Autopilot can steer within lanes, change lanes, keep an appropriate speed, and park itself. If you hunt around on YouTube, you can see Telsa drivers sitting in the driver's seat during rush hour as they read the morning newspaper (on their tablets, of course) and drink their coffee. Once again we are experiencing an enormous transformation as to how the human race will move itself around the planet, much like we did a century ago. But this shift cuts much deeper. When we hear the term Autopilot, one thing immediately comes to mind: Artificial Intelligence(AI). As well it should. AI and automation are opening up a world of possibilities for us, well beyond just cars.
True, some technology experts feel trepidation when it comes to machines that teach themselves. One renowned scholar recently pointed out that we are presently thinking about AI that is equivalent to a person with a 150 I.Q. What happens when that machine teaches itself to think like a person with a 1,000 I.Q.? Will that machine start to wonder why the earth needs humans? Will the car you're driving wonder why it's having to carry you from place to place? The logic is that it will take over your job and simply communicate with other supercomputers.
Tesla says that by this September it will have a charging station every three blocks in New York City. Do you think electric automobile makers predict a rapid rise in demand for their products? You bet. So do enterprises currently developing AI. Is it any wonder that the world's traditional automakers are forming alliances with technology firms from Silicon Valley to Bangalore? Some tech companies, like Google, are going one step further and taking the car companies out of the equation, assuming they will develop and build the personal transportation device of tomorrow. If human history gives us any clues, they might just be right.
Peter walks into his cubicle at 8am. He logs on and quickly completes a 30-minute training module on risk assessment. At 8.30am, he catches up on his social media feeds and reads the news online. Soon, Peter's day at work begins.
Peter quintessentially represents the millennial generation, which, according to a study, will constitute nearly half (46%) of the U.S. workforce by 2020. He enjoys collaborating through social platforms. A continuous learner, he prefers the self-directed approach and short bursts of learning. He's also socially conscious (according to a 2015 research report, millennials are more engaged in corporate social responsibility efforts and are likely to work for a socially-conscious brand).
So how many Peters do you have in your team? One, two? More? Well, according to Time magazine, globally three out of four employees will be millennials by 2025. It's evident that traditional models of employee engagement will not cut it anymore. To retain millennials on their payrolls, companies should be thinking about new strategies. One of them is gamification.
Nearly everyone at the workplace today owns a mobile device - millennials among them are termed 'screenagers'. They are always connected to the Internet and use multiple devices to access resources. And many of them are gamers. In the U.S. alone, there are 183 million active gamers. 69 percent of all heads of households and 97 percent of the youth play computer and video games; 40 percent of gamers are women. 61 percent of senior executives take daily game breaks at work "to feel more productive", according to Jane McGonigal's Reality is Broken.
Organizations must take advantage of this incredible phenomenon to enhance workforce engagement. Some are already on their way. PwC Hungary's Multipoly tests candidates by asking them to solve business problem in teams. Qualcomm encourages its employees to ask and answer technical questions on their internal portal, giving points (and badges) to those that answer the most (and the toughest) questions.
Gamification can also be an incredibly powerful tool for learning at the workplace. 75 percent of learners are happy to engage in online learning of their own volition. A big chunk of this group uses mobile devices to unlock knowledge resources. Providing continuous but short bursts of learning is one way to eliminate information overload. Making learning context-sensitive is also imperative. Walmart's worker safety training is interspersed with three-minute games, resulting in better information retention. Millennials are also seekers of instant, real-time feedback. Gamification provides just that, along with recognition and visibility - almost like a mini-appraisal.
Although the odds are never really in their favor, gamers love the gaming experience. It also brings together three elements that define 'good engagement': motivation, capability, and closure. For millennials, who are always looking for new experiences, gamification techniques will not only keep them interested, but also help them continuously learn.
McGonigal, Jane, Reality is Broken