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Mentors meet the SAP CSO

A significant number of SAP Mentors joined the March 31, 2009 conference call, organized by Mark Finnern with SAP’s newly named CSO.  When I say significant, it is because at any given moment a voluntary meeting on an edge topic might attract 5 or 10 percent of a community, yet this subject brought in over (which is probably over 30%) of the named Mentor.  Given some might be asleep, driving or engaged in required real life activities, that is impressive.

During the preparatory slide show portion (and after the requisite introductory jostling for seats — see image 1) a couple of us took the opportunity to tweet messages.  Even before the session started, I announced that this webcast for mentors was occurring.   That brought a quick “huh?” from Tom Raftery, surprised at the content I think, to which he promptly wondered if he could ask questions.  At the risk of losing the train of thought, as well as missing the online dialogue, I said: “Peter will take time out of his busy schedule to introduce the charter of the new organization … available for questions” and “Send me Q’s and I will insert into the chat stream.”

The slide show

The following quotes stuck out for me enough to repeat them during the session:

  1. “emphasis [has been] on short-term profitability” – Peter Graf. I (Jim) don’t see any game changers on that front.
  2. “Companies with a commitment to sustainability outperformed their peers during the financial crisis – by 15%” – Peter Graf of SAP
  3. “SAP [will be] an exemplar and an enabler” for sustainability – Peter Graf
  4. “by 2020 51% reduction in carbon – return to 2000 levels” – SAP’s commitment per Peter Graf.

The dialogue

My first question concerned the sustainability community viability.  I’ve written on environmental questions in the SAP Community with mixed results.  While there has been spirited debates the participation seems to be deep rather than wide.  Statistically this shows up in the ratio of those who read blogs tagged for the Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability, and in the quantity of discussions and wiki pages on SCN.  I am not truly worried about this, just observing that a large portion of SDN visitors come here just for technical coding and configuration Q+A.

My second question was forwarded from Tom Raftery
> Do SAP have any examples of how their s/ware has helped othr co.’s reduce their carbon footprint?

I said, in 1 tweet to Tom:

  • Your Q A’d: “SAP helps company be “more sustainable” and do “carbon tracking” with “supply chain optimization… add algorithms”

Jon Reed took several tweets to  say:

  • Graf said: “We’re helping, but we can’t (easily) prove it right now.” Example: Supply Chain Mgt improves green processes….
  • in SCM example: SAP needs to build in ways to measure reduction of footprint into functionality such as SCM. It is in the works.
  • Graf says until this sustainability measurements are built into SAP, will be hard to quantify how SAP software is helping.
  • but Graf did cite some customer examples, such as BASF, where SAP helps them manage more than 50,000 chemicals.
  • plus Graf says SAP functionality in compliance, incident management, EHS, and even education has green impact.

 (EHS=Environmental Health and Safety)

The takeaways

I noted several threads that came up in the call, including metrics on carbon emissions by SAP, its customers, and just regular folk; I will address a few in subsequent blogs or discussions.

  The first tweets that I made during the call, about not seeing any game-changers in the emphasis on short term profitability – no one seemed to dispute or address this.

  The second tweet was widely retweeted.  See below.

  The third topic I think it the most interesting, from a PowerPoint or elevator speech in that SAP will be an examplar and an enabler, clearly listing examplar first.  Once a large firm shows examples and continues to make money, this whole green thing might take off.

  The fourth tweet demonstrates SAP’s commitment, stating they will reduce their own footprint by 51%, returning their emissions to a baseline of almost ten years ago, within 10 years. That is a dramatic goal.


> jamieandrews: @TomRaftery @jspath55 but how on earth do you define a “commitment to sustainability”? I struggle to see one truly sustainable blue-chip 

As I said, the “15% outperformed” gained re-tweet momentum after the webcast, although that echoing tends to reinforce my personal view that short-term numbers get the attention.  Jamie’s question is from the “show me” position, asking to validate the trends with concrete examples.  My follow up to him concerned my asking similar questions of large corporations during my government career.  I don’t think the ads and the buzz words always tell the whole story.

Figure 1.


The above is all my personal opinion and commentary!

CSO = Chief Sustainability Officer

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  • I was one of the guys who could not make this important meeting – just started a new gig, building my team etc.

    I am trying to see how SAP or other software companies can prove in a quantitative fashion that their software products can help their customers be more green. So far no bright ideas have crossed my mind.Probably measuring is easier for hardware companies since emissions, power taken by the machines etc are quantifiable.

    Plus there is the cost factor – going green is not cheap for some one who went too far in the opposite direction.

    From a personal front – I think it is getting very expensive to go green in everything I want. How many things can I possibly replace in short term without ruining my financial security? So it is going to take time to reach there. And what do I do with the stuff I have now – if I sell, I am just letting some one else do the bad job instead of me. If it is that hard for me – I wonder how difficult it must be for a big company the size of SAP. So I really appreciate their goal of 51% reduction. Way to go, SAP !