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Café Innovation – What is your shade of green?

In the middle of 2009 SAP acquired Clear Standards, Inc. According to a press release in May 2009, SAP asserted that, “Clear Standards provides SAP a mature sustainability solution and expertise in carbon management delivered through an agile, Web-based, on-demand delivery model. In order to reduce customer effort and cost around carbon management, SAP will leverage its business process expertise to enable Clear Standards to tap into financial and other data stored in enterprise solutions such as SAP Business Suite 7 software and the SAP Environment, Health, and Safety Management application.” SAP AG Co-CEO, Léo Apotheker, tied this directly to an organization’s “efficiency and competitiveness.” The offerings from Clear Standards are now available from SAP under the name, Carbon Impact. An announcement this week from SAP informed us that they were themselves using this product quite effectively. The announcement also said that SAP had reduced its carbon emissions worldwide last year “well ahead of its established 2009 target.”

In December 2009, SAP announced an application that is intended to help companies pull together data about their corporate sustainability, analyze the information and create reports. This is the SAP BusinessObjects Sustainability Performance Management application.

The objective of this post is not to list SAP press announcements or product launch events. What had started with a firm intent and a little re-purposing of existing application functionality has obviously now been taken to the next serious level by SAP. For SAP, providing its customers the tools to be more successful in their Sustainability endeavors is serious stuff now (of course, the competition is getting ever more active in this space as well). And, this is serious enough that it seems to fit with their long-term push toward more on-demand capabilities/offerings and certainly toward offering more complete Business Intelligence prowess.

There are some SAP customers still struggling to make fundamental decisions around upgrading from earlier versions of R/3. One may argue that these customers would be least interested in these new age applications from SAP or any other software vendor. If that is the case then these customers could be in a spot of trouble in the not too distant future. Potential regulatory pressure and the force of pure and simple competition will require these organizations to identify, measure, and limit their carbon impact to begin with. For those who wish to actually succeed in this changing environment, it will be necessary to have a “green” check within every process being re-designed or refined. Process excellence will not be possible without the processes in question being more green than ever before, though I will concede that what shade of green an organization applies will depend on its own individual circumstances.

As BPXers look to refining their organization’s process models, they must start to ask the question: Where do I apply the right shade of green in my process stream? This also means that BPXers have to become savvy about sustainability and how it applies to their respective organization and industry. For the intrepid BPXer, the large SAP installed base is full of opportunities in this regard, and should not hesitate in leading the way!

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