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Not your usual Corporate Sustainability Report

imageSAP has been making a lot of noise, since the launch in early March, about its sustainability initiatives. Sustainability also featured heavily at the recent Sapphire in Orlando during which SAP announced the release of the SAP 2008 Sustainability Report.

You might also be wondering why I’ve given this blog a rather odd title. The reason is that I want to emphasize that the new SAP sustainability report is not quite like any other sustainability report in the way it communicates SAP’s activities around sustainability.

I’m not the only one who thinks this.

Ernst Ligteringen, the CEO of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), said that the SAP Sustainability Report “redefines the world of [sustainability] reporting“. GRI is the organization that publishes the definitive guidelines on sustainability reporting that were used in creating the SAP Sustainability Report.

Comments also appeared in Twitter where James Governor of Redmonk, a well known analyst on social media, saidThe new SAP sustainability report makes everyone else look so last century. It’s online only, with embedded analytics” … and also … “SAP is the first company in the world to fully realise how Internet Conversations can help make our behaviour more sustainable“.

imageI really encourage you to find half an hour and take a look at the report, but first let me explain in a bit more detail why I think it’s different. There are three main reasons:

  • It’s online only … I was thinking of apologizing to Adobe because the report doesn’t use a single PDF file until I realized it makes good use of Adobe Flash, generated using SAP Business Objects, for dashboards that explain SAP’s sustainability performance
  • Interactive analytics … the dashboards, built using SAP Business Objects, make it easy to get insight into sustainability performance by drilling down, for example, to find details on the energy used by different SAP buildings.
  • “What-if” Modeling (see right) … with the Carbon Footprint dashboard you can experiment with different ways in which SAP could meet its 2020 goal of reducing it’s carbon footprint to around the same levels as in 2000.

The “what-if” modeling is part of the Sustainability Collaboration Forum. The idea behind the forum is to encourage community discussion on what’s important in sustainability. imageIt also includes two further areas:

  • Sustainability Priorities. SAP conducted a “materiality analysis” of sustainability topics which are documented in a “materiality matrix“. This matrix identifies and ranks the most important sustainability issues based on SAP’s own research and investigation. But SAP wants to know what you think. Click on the “vote” link to vote on which topics you think are the most important or add new topics if you think some are missing
  • A Sustainability Map. Sustainability isn’t really a new business activity; it’s more about working out how to do the business processes we do now but in a more sustainable way. imageTo do this you need to know how sustainability will affect your business. The Sustainability Map helps by identifying areas within a business that could be affected. You may find this diagram useful when discussing the impact of sustainability in your business. However, this map is just a start. Working together in the community I am sure we can make it better. 

SAP really wants your feedback on its sustainability plans (go to the Sustainability Collaboration Forum) as it will help SAP shape its future work on sustainability.

I hope you will agree with me that the SAP Corporate Sustainability Report is not your usual sustainability report – please find a few minutes and take a look and let us know what you think.

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  • I'm glad that SAP puts so much effort in sustainability. The report itself follows the GRI ( guidelines and was reviewed by KPMG when I read this correctly. There is a GRI rating of B+, improving from C for the last report 2007 (released 2008) which is a success. There is still room for improvement and companies like BASF, Daimler and many more well known companies show that A+ is achievable. Everybody, keep on working hard to make the insight in our efforts for more sustainability transparent and support the team of Peter.