Skip to Content

Sustainabilty, Web 2.0 and the Enterprise

Business Beyond Boundaries

I was invited to sit in on a rather unique panel session during Sapphire 2008 in Orlando.  While definately out of my league and surrounded by sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibilty thought leaders, I did provide the service of dragging a number of the blogger community over with me to this “invitation only” session.  The results were quite interesting as the panel topic was one of how Web 2.0 might enable activists to engage with the enterprise around issues of sustainabilty.

The panel was chaired by James Farrar, VP SAP Global Corporate Citizenship and moderatered by Steve Rochlin Accountability North America.

First do listen fully to James and Steve as they are exceedingly articulate and the opening is fairly short.

Since the recording is a full hour long, I’ve tried to highlight some of the more salient points.  I’m not great at transcripts but I hope you will find the points and speakers useful in this: Sustainability, Web 2.0 meeting the enterprise video.

James introduced the topic thusly: How do enterprises deal with externalities.  NGOs and activist use the medias to interact with the enterprise.  Is the enterprise ready? Culturally are we ready?

See for yourselves and weigh-in.


5:22 Introduction of panelists

15:00  Intel’s Gary Neikert

We have tools to be transparent.  Some companies have started naming their suppliers.  The internal debate: your competition knows where you go to get your parts and figure out your pricing – challenge giving info that stakeholders need without hurting the business.  How much information? 

17:15 – Jason Busch – related to supply chain sensitivity – distinct silos in the past without communication.  Announcements of reducing packaging working with suppliers to create this and how do you share this information.

19:15  Graham Baxter – The Genie is out of the bottle and the questions are out there.  How to respond?  Regulation pressures are increasing, competition is hot, extra load.  No hiding place.  Cameras are everywhere.  Look for the opportunity space where business can learn with a community.  But we need to explore for those successes.

21:00 Michael Hoffman takes about the digital divide as opposed to the conversations we are having today.  Extractive industries.  How can we have the conversations?  Mobile will leapfrog some of the issues.

22:15 Chris Lloyd – How wireless can help.  Whole villages are putting themselves on the map and mobile holds great promise.  Open spectrum.  What are some of the innovative uses of this technology.  Wireless has been closed but we are inviting others to come in.  Issues: health, environmental, we are trying to reach out to those who can potentially help.

24:12 Bill Cramer ICT tools are highly positive for low-income populations.  We’ve wandered from the original question of the use of Web 2.0 relations stakeholders and enterprise.  What is subject to transparency?  What does it mean?  Way of increasing trust.  Adversarial relationship enterprise and others.  Who is a stakeholder in the dialogue.  How do you aggregate so that you can create coherent groups that in the legal sense have standing.  Do you create more noise than signal.  Expansion to ICT creates great space.  But they are using this for specific utilities.  Who is going to set the rules for creating transparency and for what purpose?

27:30 Diane Osgood –  Social Media as a driver or Social Media as an enabler?  We’ve been talking about driving sustainability from the inside out.   more excited about How will social media enable more change to address the sustainable dilemmas.  We pose problems – how do we differentiate noise – driving sustainability from the inside out. Equity, trust, transparency, can we bring these lessons and bring them into social media. Challenges: water, human rights, economic inequality constraints.  We have never been so smart thus far. With all this technology how we can combine all that?How can we enable social media to enable the solutions we really need.  How do we enable the technology to enable the solutions.   We know there is an issue of trust.  When the body language signals are gone, how do we evolve issues of trust. How do we own the common problem so we own the process and engage with it. Bigger “commons of the planet” are less tangible , another area of complexity.

Issue is time.  How many of us which social media site to go to.  How do we help others prioritize .  For the common good.

32:50 Shel Israel– Your killer application are your own children.

33:30 Devon  MacDonald talking about the dramatic impact of twitter in releasing a journalist in Egypt .  Learning to talk to your own employees and having them shape your own customers. We haven’t seen companies taking feedback and rapidly respond, so how ca n we see organizations agile.

36:30 Marilyn Pratt refers to declaring email bankrupcy and points Diane to Wiki Patterns – Steve Mader

38:40 Devin – externalizing emails by blogging them makes for more transparency.

40:46 – Eric Beal – Lack of information sharing has devastating consequences.  Businesses that succeed will be the ones that have a structure in place.  Who sets the rules so that it doesn’t become a free for all – effective collaboration.  How do you press businesses to open up and when can it be counterproductive.  Driving business in the wrong direction?

43:25 Beth Jenkins – screening tool as a helpful enabler.  If our topic is responsible performance, can web 2.0 take us beyond the gathering information and can it take us to implementing solutions within a firm.  Does Web 2.0 help you with change?

45:08 Kim Iversen from Kimberly Clark – our grass roots sustainability group uses a wiki to drive ideas how to get the ideas all the way down to the people on the shop floors.  Biggest challenge is getting the communication up the ladder.  Getting the information back up and act on it and act quickly

46:50 Chris Lloyd Verizon, Market that hasn’t adopted technology was the senior community- people were intimidated, but once you understand the requirements we could accommodate.  It’s difficult to touch a particular generation, but with younger generation we can tap into intelligence back into the organization.

48:23 Krista Von Tussel – Net Impact -Corporations are a composite of individuals.  network of students finding what students are doing in the CSR space.80% of students believe it is important less than 20% think its happening.  Best ideas coming from grassroots – enable groups to communicate with you – corporate structures in Facebook – those tools can help ideas percolate to top

50:34 Devon at what point does the exposure to media start to desensitize us? Horrendous war videos desensitize us.  At what time do we start to produce too much media.

51:15 – Devin responds:  might not be enough media.  We can give a more complete picture of what is happening. Context.

51:50 – Devon – coalesce around a larger goal – we are so focused on our details – more media doesn’t necessarily forward a goal, engaging in conversation.

52:36 Kimberly – We have a consumer demand now to know where my stuff is coming from .  How sustainable is the corporation where I purchase my goods from .  Country of origin, CO2 emission labeling for a Kimberly Clark or an Intel.  CO2 network of where they purchase things from.

53:30 Devin Finding a champion outside of the corporation pushing a worry inside the corporation.  We all consume and produce at the same time. You own capital and make the board decisions.  America is not the only superpower.  Signaling taking place just outside the walls.  Essentially ethics.

55:20 Steve Rochlin – mobilize the ability of corporations to do good via web 2.0 we must find the ways to find the legal standing – informal rules of accountability otherwise people will resist.

57:30 James Farrar – sustainability and co-innovation – pulling around a common goal

58:40 – William J. Kramer – Global Challenge the tools are there for them to sort through – these are the limits we would like to place – we need to do some things below the radar and get agreement within before we go outside.  We need to have a voice of coherence in the company company.

You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.
  • Hi Marilyn,

    You captured a really amazing panel and an excellent way to get to the things that one is most interested in. I need to carve out an hour to see it in full.

    Bummer that you are not in Berlin to continue the recording.

    Thanks, Mark.
    P.S. Little hint in FireFox I didn’t see the minutes of the video, in IE it worked.

    • Hoping James Governor and Eddy DC will be really attentive to the sustainability topics at Sapphire Berlin. Thanks Mark for the feedback.  I struggled with the video embed and also noticed that although I turned off automated start, it does start automatically in Firefox as well as not showing the minutes.  These 2 problems don’t exist in ie strangely.
      This video was produced by our SAP TV (professional crew, 2 cameras, lighting, sound).  I should be able to use a microphone and some of the techniques to improve on my own clips, but I can’t take credit for the filming here.  Glad you found the idea of writing the timings helpful.  Now, I’ll need some help in seeing how we embed those back into Firefox.
  • great topic and content.

    I am always curious on how the legal and compliance guys view web 2.0. Push comes to shove, unless legal agrees to something – hardly any enterprise will put money on this exciting prospect. I feel this is more true in b2b than b2c world.

    • Thanks for the feedback.  A few months back, I attended an informative conference organized by the Economist and also read a report called “Doing Good- Business and the Sustainability Challenge”.  One of the biggest take-aways was that in the new world order, businesses often wield as much power as governments (in some areas of the world) and voluntary business action can be effective because markets and consumers do reward those businesses acting well.  In some countries govenment is reluctant to take firmer action.  “Governments are ideological and companies are quite practical”.  What seems fairly clear is that none of the stakeholders: business, government or individuals can make a go fo sustainability issues alone.  Each entity needs the other to advance “the cause”.
  • The Berlin equivalent was just as awesome. James Governor, Eddy and myself were invited to a similarly august round table. It was a pleasure to be a part of this discussion. I think I felt a little like you did Marilyn but I certainly enjoyed being there. Thank you to those involved who provided access to the bloggers and mentors.
    • Hope your impressions and those of others get incorporated into discussions, blogs, reflections that become visible to the community and raise more awareness and interest.  I’m thankful to those of you who participated.
  • Marilyn – I haven’t seen the entire featurette yet, but I noticed in skipping through how many disposable water bottles were in frame.  Maybe the camera person can keep those out of sight next time, or perhaps post-processing could turn them into reusable bottles?  I’m disappointed that a lot of this august group didn’t get the whole message.  Jim
    • Excellent observation.  Frankly, I was thinking about that too through most of the entire Sapphire thanks to your making me aware of this topic of use of bottles.  I found myself going to the water cooler rather than reaching for bottles in the press lounge and I’ve already mentioned that you have changed my personal home habits.  We no longer use bottled water.  Powerful stuff these awareness pointers.  I’ll pass the word on to those I correspond with who were present.  I bet many of them shared those sentiments.