SAP Watch

Oct 9 2009   2:44PM GMT

What’s next for SAP sustainability?

Mperkins Matt Perkins Profile: Mperkins

Last month, SAP was named the highest-ranked software company in the 2009 Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes for the third time. This is good news for SAP, but hardly surprising, given SAP’s focus on sustainability and endorsing a “green” life.

This past May, SAP outlined its sustainability strategy at Sapphire in Orlando. The vendor explained how its approach to ‘going green’ focuses more on the business benefits rather than the environmental benefits alone.

If it’s the business benefits SAP is interested in, things should roll out nicely, at least according to a new report by IDC Manufacturing Insights titled Seeing the Business Benefits of Sustainability: Revenue, Profit and Inventory Management.

The report reveals that manufacturers who quickly develop green initiatives should realize a significant impact on revenue growth and cost savings. But Kimberly Knickle, author of the report, writes that there’s more to keep in mind than just the business benefits.

In many cases, what works from an efficiency or cost-saving standpoint is also better for the environment, but don’t assume the first option is necessarily the better. You still need to do a carbon impact assessment and you may even have to propose several options with varying impact on cost and emissions before you find the one that works for the CFO and the chief sustainability officer (CSO).

The 2008 SAP sustainability report, which was released at Sapphire along with the company’s Sustainability Map, proves that SAP is on the right track in terms of assessing its carbon impact, not to mention the company’s goal to reduce its total carbon footprint back to its year-2000 level by 2020, or a 49% reduction of its 2007 baseline Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.

Even further, the recent SAP World Tour event in Hungary was awarded the title of “Green Festival” from the Ministry of Environment and Water. It apparently was the first time since the launch of the Green Festival initiative that a B2B conference has earned the title (until now, only large music or cultural festivals have received a similar award).

SAP also announced last month that to help close any gaps between carbon regulations and corporate execution, it is working with Microsoft and Accenture to develop a global reporting, benchmarking and analytics system for the Carbon Disclosure Project.

But it’s next week’s sessions at TechEd in Phoenix I’m interested in. At the event, SAP plans to indulge in the topic of sustainability in full, with sessions covering the Home Carbon Challenge, a social networking experiment focusing on reducing an individual’s carbon footprint through social networking and integrating “smart” devices; Greent IT through archiving and content management, which will focus on reducing the use of paper;  and sustainability practices with SAP technology and a business intelligence (BI) approach, which will cover integrating sustainability in the business strategy.

At this point, it looks like where Sapphire brought with it a general “touching-base” on the subject, TechEd should bring with it far more detail on sustainability in certain areas. In any event, with all of the goings-on with SAP and sustainable efforts, it’ll be interesting to see how much of this is going to have a substantial impact on customers.

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