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Julia Gundlach (Bertelsmann Stiftung) , Kassandra Becker (work forward), Johannes Landstorfer (Deutscher Caritasverband e.V.) und Monika Deyle (Paulinenpflege Winnenden e.V.) im Gespräch

Social Welfare Could Benefit from Artificial Intelligence

Participants at this year’s WHU Hauptstadt Dialog look at AI through a humanitarian lens

The WHU Hauptstadt Dialog, having now completed its ninth successful run, has become a tradition of sorts. The event brings a spirited group of people passionate about all things digital-social together with  alumni and other friends of WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management. Held in Berlin at SAP’s Data Space, an ideal spot located at Hackescher Markt, this year’s event featured the Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI), under the direction of Chair Representative Michael Perscheid, as its academic partner.

Caroline King, Global Head of Government Affairs at SAP, briefly set the stage, noting how imperative it is that technology companies offer their employees the opportunity and freedom to use their skills for societal good. Later, Julia Gundlach (Bertelsmann Foundation) and Kassandra Becker (work forward), hosted the panel “Digital Transformation of ‘Daseinvorsorge*’: How Can Current Potential Be Realized?” The two presented the concept of a tech-based fellowship for social welfare, as well as the results of what they call their “tech-exploration” of four relevant example organizations. Such approaches can help both realize the potential of digital technology in the field of social welfare and help develop the necessary competencies.

A discussion between Johannes Landstorfer (Digital Agenda Coordinator at Deutscher Caritasverband e.V.) and Monika Deyle (Coordinator for Organization Development at Paulinenpflege Winnenden e.V.) also shined a spotlight on this untapped potential, offering concrete examples. The non-profit welfare sector, with its two million employees and three million volunteers, is a staple of Germany’s welfare system. Between war and a shortage of skilled workers on the market, today’s turbulent times are having a direct effect on welfare stakeholders and the work performed in this area. To secure social welfare services in the future, for example, the sector needs better data usage, budgets for innovation, and increased skillsets among workers. Informal discussions continued at the event’s get-together between the some 40 participants—representatives from the corporate world, civil society, and politics—who had a chance to connect with one another.

“This year’s Hauptstadt Dialog is just one of the formats focused on the opportunities and challenges that artificial intelligence presents to non-profit organizations,” noted Peter Kreutter, Managing Director of the WHU Center for Non-Profit Management and Social Impact, at the end of the event. “With the intensive joint course Digitalisierung und Agilität in NPO, offered at the end of November by our research partner VMI – Institut für Verbandsmanagement at the University of Fribourg, and the 2024 Digital Social Summit in January, there are already new events planned for the near future.”

*[Editor’s note: “Daseinvorsorge” is a German term describing the provision of access to basic needs for all people without discrimination.]

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