The power of purpose

Why purpose-driven brands achieve greater business success

Lindsay James
23 November 2020

3 min read

Organizations that build their businesses around a clear purpose achieve far more than financial performance. They also can foster greater workforce and customer satisfaction, and ultimately help build a better world for everyone.

In 1960, Colorado inventor and president of Herman Miller Research Robert Propst declared that “today’s office is a wasteland. It saps vitality, blocks talent, frustrates accomplishment. It is the daily scene of unfulfilled intentions and failed effort.”

Propst went on to spend the next eight years developing the Action Office system – the world’s first open-plan office system of reconfigurable components, embodying his purpose to create a healthier, more innovative and more productive workforce.

The system was an instant hit, transforming the design of workplaces worldwide and securing Herman Miller a leading position in the furniture industry. By the middle of the 20th century, the name Herman Miller had become synonymous with modern office furniture. Working with legendary designers George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames, the company produced pieces that became classics of industrial design.

In the 1960s, Herman Miller developed the Action Office system as the world’s first open-plan system of reconfigurable components, to create a healthier, more innovative and more productive workforce. (Image © Herman Miller)

Gabe Wing, director of sustainability at Herman Miller, credits the company’s ongoing success to its continued commitment to purpose. “Our purpose is to design for the good of humankind,” he said. “Being a purpose-driven company means you know why you come to work every day. No matter what your job title, you’re all working toward a common ‘why’.”

"Being a purpose-driven company means you know why you come to work every day. No matter what your job title, you’re all working toward a common ‘why’."

Gabe Wing, Director of Sustainability, Herman Miller

Purpose also fosters greater loyalty – from employees and consumers alike, Wing said. “When your employees are connected to a bigger purpose and are engaged, they give you their discretionary effort; they are willing to go above and beyond when called on. And your customers are buying more than product; they are choosing to support a brand and the idea of helping to create a better world.”


Canadian apparel business tentree also believes in the benefits of a purpose-driven approach. Described by CEO Derrick Emsley as “a tree-planting company first and an apparel brand second,” tentree commits to planting ten trees for each product sold.

The tentree message has resonated with consumers, helping company plant more than over 51million trees to date – and the response has been as beneficial for the company as the environment. “Our team tripled in size. In just five years we moved from printing a few t-shirts to more than 500,000 annually,” says Emsley in a case study.

Canadian apparel business tentree committed to plant ten trees for every single product sold. (Image © tentree)

Herman Miller and tentree aren't alone. A recent Deloitte study reports that purpose-driven companies benefit from higher market share gains and grow three times faster, on average, than their competitors, all while achieving higher workforce satisfaction. In fact, a separate survey conducted by Deloitte found that 73% of employees who say they work at a purpose-driven company report being engaged by their work, compared to just 23% of those who don't.

In addition, 55% of consumers believe businesses today have a greater responsibility to act on issues related to their purpose. “If you couple that with data from our 2019 Global Millennial Survey, telling us Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to patronize and support companies that align with their values, you realize that customers and clients truly care about what a company and their brand stands for,” said Suzanne Kounkel, CMO of Deloitte (US).


of consumers believe businesses today have a greater responsibility to act on issues related to their purpose.

Purpose-driven firms also are more likely to thrive during challenging times – such as the COVID-19 pandemic. “One of my favorite quotes is from novelist James Lane Allen," Kounkel said. "He said ‘adversity does not build character, it reveals it.’ I think that rings true when it comes to purpose, and something we’ve seen play out during this global pandemic. In our current environment, companies needed to decide what their role should be, in both how they help and how they position themselves. The companies that get this right have really stood out as the ones who stayed true to their purpose.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Herman Miller manufactured PPE, including face masks and face shields, for its employees, so as not to impact the global supply. (Image © Herman Miller)

Indeed, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Herman Miller's purpose of design for the good of humankind led the company to provide frontline healthcare workers with immediately needed personal protective equipment (PPE), including face masks and face shields. “We are also making PPE for our own employees to use, so we don't take away from the global supply,” said Wing.


With many companies demonstrating the power of purpose, Kounkel believes more firms than ever before are realizing that business success today depends on more than financial performance.

“In conversations with clients and peers, I’m observing a clear shift of stakeholders demanding action,” she said. “More and more. leading organizations are starting to embed purpose into their business strategies – and seeing greater success as a result. They are realizing that, at the end of the day, their job is to leave the world better than how they found it.”

Wing agrees. “I think we are in the midst of an exciting new journey,” he said. “As our family of brands grows and evolves, we will walk alongside our partners to lean on one another for the knowledge and insights that help us design something incredible: a better world for everyone.”

Facilitating a revolution

Data-driven integration transforms facilities management

Nick Lerner
13 November 2020

4 min read

While spectacular cityscapes demand attention, the almost invisible facilities management (FM) industry that maintains them – which Frost & Sullivan estimates will be valued at US$1 trillion by 2025 – is experiencing a quiet revolution. Compass spoke with François Amman, co-founder and co-president of Aden Group, one of Asia’s largest FM businesses, about how the industry is evolving.

COMPASS: Tell us a bit about Aden Group’s history, objectives and current work.

François Amman, Co-founder and Co-president, Aden Group

FRANÇOIS AMMAN: Since Aden was founded in 1997, we have grown to be a big player in China and Southeast Asia. We have a staff of 26,000, more than 2,000 customers and an extensive business and partnership network. Aden manages our clients’ non-core business aspects, helping them optimize operations, meet regulations and reduce environmental impacts of their built assets.

How would you recommend that building owners should view facilities management?

FA: The capital lifecycle cost of a building counts for 80% of its total cost, with 20% for initial construction. Clients often focus on design and construction and less on capital lifecycle. However, environmental regulations and market forces are pressuring building owners to reach more efficient energy and utility usage and improve their operational strategies and systems. This is a huge opportunity for FM and especially for Aden. We have been innovating with digitalization, using a connected and integrated enterprise platform.

Which aspects of FM tend to deliver the greatest benefits?  

FA: Integration, which very importantly includes the combination of services and technology. You can create huge value by digitalizing, linking and optimizing the many aspects of a building’s daily operations. Instead of putting every component into its own box – energy usage, asset performance, space management, employee and visitor comfort – you can use tools like our platform to get a much more comprehensive view of what is happening in the building, backed by hard numbers and data. That’s when you can really start creating workspaces that are more productive, efficient and sustainable.

“Making a 3D virtual twin at the conception stage lets us simulate the whole building and fine-tune operations before construction.”

How does a platform improve building maintenance and operations?

FA: We digitally integrate every asset and function of a building, but that only becomes useful when it is brought together on a single, unified platform that delivers the big picture and all its details.

Making a 3D virtual twin at the conception stage lets us simulate the whole building and fine-tune operations before construction. We can specify, optimize and maintain very efficient and productive systems and operations, while understanding exactly how it impacts energy consumption and maintenance productivity for the whole life of the building. For existing buildings, we retrofit.

Which types of customers see the greatest benefits?

FA: We work across many sectors, including commercial and government property, manufacturing and healthcare. Energy savings alone can be 20% up to 80%. For poorly built or badly managed situations, savings can be even higher. Each system that is integrated and optimized brings similar productivity and efficiency gains.

Aden Group uses dashboards to create data-driven facility monitoring cockpits like this one to follow operations and make adjustments as needed in real time. (Image © Aden Group)

Which data do you collect and reference?

FA: All equipment, such as elevators, pumps and other technical assets, is monitored, along with energy consumption, temperature, airflow and waste output. We also track people to understand where task optimization could save time and reduce worker fatigue. This enables streamlined workflows and better use of machines and assets to reduce costs.

How does data enhance predictability of maintenance and operations?

FA: Lifelike 3D simulations comprehensively reveal the often hidden or unknown reality of buildings – equipment age, maintenance history and condition. This lets us accurately predict and plan maintenance, because when data equals intelligence it points to requirements. Where previously maintenance was often random, we add efficiency and greater productivity because we know what needs fixing and when and how to efficiently carry it out.

Which processes can be automated?

FA: Automatic monitoring and control can be added to all equipment; and robots and drones can take over many tasks previously done by people.

In hospitals, for example, supplies and medical consumables can be non-contact delivered by robots deployed through the Internet of Things (IoT). These also collect data on the status of disinfecting, stock levels or building condition. This is of great value in lowering COVID-19 transmission through reduced human interactions. Monitoring and treating airflows to neutralize the virus is also of huge benefit.

What other lessons from the pandemic are being put into practice?

FA: A digital twin of two hospitals that were built in 10 days during the pandemic in Wuhan, China, in February 2020, incorporates all hospital equipment, workflows and associated team knowledge. The technology enables 3D simulations to demonstrate and prove long-term hospital operational concepts and practices and provide them to 25 governments around the world that are interested in rapidly building and running healthcare facilities. Each new hospital will take 150 days to build, with the first completed in 2021.

What other benefits can FM offer to society?

FA: Taking a human-centric approach to FM, we can make buildings better for people. Controlling the internal environment, noise reduction, adaptive lighting, as well as precise temperature and airflow, mean that we can make buildings safer, healthier and more comfortable. These technologies also immediately reduce environmental impacts by cutting water and energy use.

How do you see the future of FM?

FA: Bringing advanced simulation to FM is a game changer. By adopting the same established processes and data manipulation used by manufacturing industries, we are in partnership with a digitally driven revolution.

Adopting a single unified enterprise platform that handles the massive data that buildings generate brings a conservative industry into the modern age. In coming years, we will see further visibility and integration of FM processes, accelerated by technology that finally delivers the integrated thinking, decision making, and actions that this industry has needed for so long.

Enormous promise, daunting challenges

To realize 5G’s world-changing potential, only sophisticated 3D simulation can manage its design complexities

Alex Smith
4 November 2020

4 min read

5G cellular networks will drive a wide range of innovation, from smart energy grids and digital factories to autonomous vehicles and the internet of things – and 3D simulation is key to accelerating their arrival. By enabling designers to develop smart devices compatible with 5G, and helping telecom engineers build a reliable 5G network backbone, simulation helps competitors be first to market with disruptive innovations.

Governments and the telecommunications industry are investing billions into a dramatic upgrade to mobile connectivity: the new generation of cellular technology known as 5G. The technology’s ability to support great numbers of connected devices with faster response times has created a world of possibilities for new mobile applications, from more sophisticated digital factory capabilities to remote surgeries in real time.

“At 10 milliseconds latency, 5G is 10 times faster than its predecessor at the upper end of home Wi-Fi networks, and on par with most wired connections,” said Ajay Chavali, managing director at Accenture Strategy & Consulting. “With the ability to support 1 million devices in a square kilometer, and with speeds up to 20 gigabytes per second, 5G offers the first viable alternative to wired connections, with the ease of use and deployment of a wireless network. These capabilities will transform manufacturing, transportation, logistics and warehousing, healthcare, and public services with new products and services leading to several trillion dollars of economic gain in coming years.”

But designing those applications requires developers to simultaneously manage a massively complex set of requirements. The chances of getting everything right on the first try and beating their competitors to market are very low – unless developers have the ability to simulate the performance of their offerings before they build them. The answer? Digital 3D simulation technology, which enables developers to test, troubleshoot and redesign the products in record times, without the high cost and long lead times required for physical prototypes.

“Multiple layers of the technology stack have to come together to commercialize internet of things driven by 5G,” said Chavali's colleague at Accenture, senior manager Sanjay Keswani. “These include sensors and electronic components, wireless devices and network equipment, network and connectivity providers, IoT cloud and heterogeneous network integrators, software platform players, and end-user application providers. Integration of these layers will be challenging and expensive. High levels of investments will be needed from various players in the value chain, and aligning value propositions to investments will prove to be complex.” 

That complexity, Keswani said, significantly increase the risk of design errors, especially when factoring in the challenging environments in which 5G will operate. Original equipment manufacturers and suppliers will need to create designs that can withstand all of the outside influences that could affect and disrupt a signal, and they will have to meet strict – and highly different – regulatory standards in every country in which they operate.

Furthermore, they will have to do so at an acceptable cost. In a recent survey by Infosys of industry leaders who might be likely buyers of 5G applications, 60% said that cost and effectiveness were the primary criteria for their adoption of 5G for a particular use case.


At 10 milliseconds latency, 5G is 10 times faster than its predecessor at the upper end of home Wi-Fi networks, and on par with most wired connections


To meet these challenges, developers need to deliver optimized, high-performance designs at attractive cost-value ratios. For Jay Gillette, senior RF and antenna engineer for wireless module and antenna manufacturer Laird Connectivity, effective simulation tools are an integral part of achieving this balance.

© Laird Connectivity

“Today’s 5G antennas just require simulation,” he said. “Manual optimization might be fine for really simplistic antenna types, but I don’t think that’s feasible for the pattern and bandwidth requirements of modern antennas. You may find a solution in the lab, but it could be sub-optimal, and it’s difficult to predict its functionality with the limited data set you can produce in the lab.”

Working in the virtual world allows engineers to identify the many factors that can interfere with the strength and reliability of a 5G signal, helping them to optimize the design for these variables. Due to some of the delicate use cases under consideration – remote surgery, for example – 5G networks will need to deliver constant up-time and reliability in all weather conditions in complex environments ranging from city streets to factory floors. Achieving these goals with a huge number of small antennas that relay signals back and forth will be significantly more complicated than today’s relatively small network of looming cellular towers.

“If we’re working to develop a 5G antenna for an OEM, then we’re trying to make sure whether or not our design will conform to their requirements,” Gillette said. “You don’t want to move ahead with designing a full prototype, given the time frame and expense involved, with the risk of having that product not conform to the customer’s requirements.

Sophisticated digital simulation capabilities, however, allow engineers to virtually test their designs in virtual models of the actual conditions where a 5G network will be deployed – and it allows them to do so early, before detailed design work begins.

“Simulation software gives a very accurate estimate of realized performance, enabling you to know where you are in terms of compliance. Time is money, so being able to solve these simulations quickly and avoiding multiple iterations is huge. Everybody’s found that to be truly competitive in the market, you need to move to simulation.”


Solving these challenges will be more than worthwhile, given the new capabilities 5G will deliver. Consumers will be enabled with reliable streaming of 4K video and better network coverage for smartphones, but they will also feel the benefits as entirely new products and services such as telemedicine and autonomous vehicles enter the market.  For businesses, these advantages can be leveraged across different industries to deliver huge improvements in efficiency and output, and to unlock previously inaccessible forms of innovation.

“With its low latency and reliability, 5G has shown clear benefits in many areas,” said Fawad Noory, associate engagement manager at digital services and consulting company Infosys. “Examples include the reimagining of large agile workflows in manufacturing to enable the new digital factory. Use of automated guided vehicles is rising, and with 5G they can perform services such as on-demand technician requests for inventory or the movement of heavy equipment. Meanwhile, in utility there has been the rise of smart grid and distributed energy resources such as solar-generation or wind power fields, where 5G can be used in order to provide control, support operations and enhanced reliability in real time.”

And when these wonders become available, consumers will be able to thank sophisticated computer simulations for making it possible. Companies that master these technologies and deliver fast, successful 5G implementation will gain a crucial competitive advantage, setting them up as market leaders for the years and decades to come.

Stay up to date

Receive monthly updates on content you won’t want to miss


Register here to receive a monthly update on our newest content.