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The Green Kiss of Death for SAP Sustainability

I am sure fellow rabble rouser Thorsten Franz will forgive me liberally borrowing from one of his signature memes (“Kiss of Death”) when the environment (pun intended) requires it. Earlier today, I received the probation notice for this SCN space, Sustainability & CSR.  What that means, in SCN administrator terms, is “too little traffic, we shut you down.”  What that means to me is: SAP isn’t that interested in Green, except for the color of money. What should this mean to you?

First, I’ll reference some of Thorsten’s prior art, and see if this ties together.  In one post (Geek’s Dictionary: What is the Walldorf Kiss of Death?) he claims the signal that a product line or other resource is going to be axed is a phrase along the lines of such-and-such “…will be/stay/remain with us for a long time.” Of course, a clearer signal is an error 503, but we’ll get to that shortly.  In a thread in this space, an SCN member asked what’s up with the SAP Carbon Impact software tool (see: Sustainability Integration ); the answer given was thorough, but included this telling phrase: “Our committment [sic] to the domain remains strong.”  That’s close enough to “we will be in this business for the long haul.”

Of course, software evolves, features come, and features go (no, really, sometimes developers disable functionality.  I am not kidding.  It happens). If you would ask SAP executives why Sustainability software would be cut back, the answer would be: customers aren’t buying it, the features are included elsewhere, and drop back to soothing the shareholders.  All fine answers, except that, in my view, SAP has given up the high road and re-entrenched themselves in the old world. Personally, the change of verbiage in news reporting from “global warming” to “climate change” panders to the masses, and ignores the extremely real dangers humans have triggered.  Would one SAP web site stem the tides?  No, but where is the direction on this critical topic from a company that touts itself as a progressive force for change with the “It Gets Better” efforts (cc: Moya Watson ???)


So what does SAP’s Carbon Impact site look like?  Is there a marketing announcement for what to do if you get there from an existing URL (of which I have found a few)?

503 Service Unavailable

No server is available to handle this request.

That’s harsh, like you forgot to pay your ISP, or the competition put you out of business. 

An example URL:  leads to which leads to the above 503 error.

Probation? No Secret, Double or Nothing.

What do I mean by the Sustainability space (blogs, forums, document) is “on probation”?  As mentioned above, SCN administrators are moving to clean house.  Spaces that don’t meet an arbitrary level of traffic are threatened with being archived, or halted.  Of course, I’m not going to let this topic die easily, but let’s look at the background and the facts before I simply rant and rave.

You’re on notice: SCN Space Audit and Rehabilitation Process is the document that describes the process SAP/SCN has come up with.  Jason Lax, as the Content Specialist (test passed!), must deal with a wide range of topic areas.  Setting numeric goals for participation is a reasonably smart method of giving an area some time to demonstrate people are interested.

When I started into this with SAP, the topic was titled “Corporate Social Responsibility.” or just CSR.  That must have been deemed too Marxist-leaning (well before the Occupy movement starting getting headlines).  I guess that was not wishy-washy enough, so it was recast as the Sustainability topic.  I really don’t see much overlap (one is “are you ethical” and the other is “do you care”?).  But it’s not like I was on the customer advisory panel, or focus group.

What are the numbers? And what are the units of measure?

Traffic over a Month

Number of Followers
Number of Activities in a Month Freshness and completeness of the Overview Page

I can’t share the numbers, as I don’t see them publicly released, but I will say the only value that this space passed is “number of followers”.  Which to me means, people want to see information about Sustainability, they just want someone else to do the work.  Back to the rant shortly.  More data first.

One person has come to my aid (Julius von dem Bussche) in the background, hinting he’d like to do more.  Others responded to my shot-across-the-bows tweet from earlier today:

Formulating a #KOD blog post for @SCNcommnet about dwindling community and corporate interest in Sustainability and Green IT.



@jspath55 it has gotten rather quiet.


Jeremiah Stone:

@jspath55 Let’s chat. The commercial activity spiked in 2010, continues to grow, expect wave of implementations starting this year…


I will also tag Marilyn Pratt and Marcia Walker as potential commentators to this topic.


First, disclosures and disclaimers: I don’t work in a Sustainability role.  I have a degree in Environmental Engineering, worked in the field for 20 years, set up environmental monitoring and record keeping of various sorts at government agencies. But I have not used SAP’s software, other than very brief tinkering with the admirable (if unappreciated) eponymous Sustainability Report site (which will need to be scrubbed free of CarbonImpact references for the next iteration I assume – ).  I gave Jeremiah a chance for a quote here, but as we didn’t chat today, I’m using his public tweet.

What do I think will happen?

  • This space (Sustainability & CSR) and the related one (Green IT (to merge)) are going to be shut down.  Honestly, I don’t know why Green IT was created in the first place; it should have just been a gleam in the Sustainability eye.
  • No one will care, except me, Tom Raftery, and a couple others.
  • Customers (and developers) working on SuPM will drift back to OSS messages, and posting things in random forums.
  • The next super-storm or other cataclysmic climate collapse will trigger more than one SCN member to ask “whatever happened to that idea of being sustainable?”
  • SAP Carbon Impact OnDemand [remove] space is stillborn, and should be put out in the recycle bin inside a shoe box.  How embarrassing to have no posts.  I didn’t even know that was a space.

What do you think will happen?

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  • Hi Jim- I would hope that your predictions don’t become reality. While I have no real ‘skin in the game’ when it comes to SAP’s green initiatives, I would think that the initiative would be of continued importance to warrant a space.

    • Derek – you’ve identified a major part of the problem – no “skin in the game” is true for too many people, so the software, and the space, diminish. In my opinion.

    • Tammy,

      I think this is just a perception problem and we are at fault as much as anyone for not parading our sustainability successes. At SAP – I believe more than any other area – we “Walk the Talk” with sustainability. We have set aggressive energy reduction targets for 2013 and  we’re well motivated to meet them. A new “Dashboard” is due to be launched shortly so that we can monitor and reduce our carbon footprint internally.

      We have had challenges rolling out the twogo program (as Peter mentioned in his TED talk) but we’ll be expanding this and discussing new ways to cut down on commutes. We will be targeting air travel and concentrating more on our social responsibility programs.

      Hopefully this gives you a better view of our Sustainability duck (calm and quiet on top, paddling furiously underneath).

      As always – these are my own personal views and I don’t claim to speak on behalf of SAP.


  • Hi Jim,

    I understand your cause and I also know that you’re among the few who seriously(!) care about the subject and that you’re also among the few who are willing to start with the (wo)man in the mirror to help the environment.

    However, there are two things about your blog that irritate me a bit:

    • First, the SCN spaces are for the community. It’s not upon SAP by itself to fill a space with live (=content). Hence, the lack of traffic for a particular space may indicate that there’s no critical mass for the topic (yet/anymore). Others may claim people may not even know the space exists, because there are so many – but then that’s the whole reason for the SCN housekeeping anyway, so…
    • I’m not sure why you put that “no notification banner” in your blog, as it’s just normal that people who are not moderators are not able t see blogs while they are not published yet. So, I guess it just implies that Moya Watson is not a moderator for the sustainability space… but how does that relate to your blog? (Maybe I’m too stupid to get it…)

    Besides that I hope that your blog has the same effect as Thorsten Franz ‘s KOD blogs, which is to trigger a lively discussion and ultimately some actions for the better 🙂



    • Matthias:

      On this:

      I’m not sure why you put that “no notification banner” in your blog, as it’s just normal that people who are not moderators are not able t see blogs while they are not published yet.

      I have seen what Jim has seen all the time – I wasn’t aware of this myself.  Thank you for clarifying.

      In terms of Sustainability at SAP, it seems we heard a lot about it a few years ago, not so much recently, which is great that Jim is kick-starting the conversation.  No, I don’t expect SAP to fill the space but it would be great for them to contribute as well, since it is the “SAP Community Network”.


      • In terms of Sustainability at SAP, it seems we heard a lot about it a few years ago, not so much recently, which is great that Jim is kick-starting the conversation.  No, I don’t expect SAP to fill the space but it would be great for them to contribute as well, since it is the “SAP Community Network”.



  • Hello Jim, fellow Baltimore resident.  I can assure you Sustainability is alive and well at SAP, though the action might not be taking place on this site.  There are a lot of measures I can cite to support:

    1. We closed another strong year revenue wise. I can’t reveal exact numbers but EHS continues to grow strongly since we acquired Technidata, we released a lot of new applications in this area, and we strengthened our energy management solution.  Yes we have stopped marketing the Carbon Impact solution but features were merged with Sustainability Performance Mgmt

    2. Internally  our team continues to identify actions we can take and is alive and strong under P Graf leadership.  And we have saved a lot of money with these principles.  One example is our TwoGo ride sharing app

    3. You will find a lot of activity under the EHS page in SCN.  We find that buyers for sustainability solutions are under many different titles, it isnt just sustainability – energy, mfg, EHS, products etc. 

    We continue to see sustainability is baked into any Operations strategy so while there might not be a lot of activity on this page, actually what we see happening is that sustainability aspects are very mainstream across any company including ours


    Marty Etzel

  • For those who questioned my use of an irrelevant image – it was from an annoying Jive pop-up as I worked on the drafts.  I left it in mainly to break up the monotony of text.

    Just think: “Squirrel!”


  • Jim:   First – interesting title!  I couldn’t help but think of some sort of Kermit the Frog Halloween movie “The Green Kiss of Death”.  I’ll skip the popcorn for that one.

    Second, I found it a beautiful juxtaposition that your blog was posted the very day that we received kudos internally for our efforts on SCN:  Five of the most-viewed blogs for Sapphire Now were sustainability related; by last count they had around 50,000 views combined, and I know they generated intense internal and external discussion.  Similarly, the majority of the Twitter chatter for recent SAP events like FKOM has been about energy and sustainable operations.

    It is true that the popular blogs mentioned above were not in the “Sustainability” space on SCN.  I can only speak for myself, but I was intentional in my decision to not post about energy and environmental resource management here.  I believe in meeting people where they are – and the people who can benefit from the solutions about which I am so passionate are in manufacturing, and chemicals, and oil and gas, and consumer packaged goods, and so on. 

    In my experience, readers who visit “Sustainability” channels are already converts.   The people I want to reach are the ones who are struggling every day with OEE, or ship dates, or balancing scarcity of supply of resources like water with the need to maintain profitability.  Many of them still believe that energy is just an overhead cost, and not something that really affects them.  It is my mission – my MISSION, not my job – to help them realize that energy is a controllable variable in manufacturing processes just like any other variable.  And they are most likely to hear that message if I post in the manufacturing space, or the mining space, or the mills space. 

    So I do.  And I will continue to do so.  I have been with SAP only nine months.  That, too, should tell you something about SAP’s commitment to sustainability.  I have been in this field a long, long, time and frankly I have my choice of employers.  I chose SAP because in the interview process I recognized a deep and abiding commitment to the values I hold dear, including a commitment to making the world a better place by using resources wisely and responsibly.  I interviewed with eleven different personnel on the Energy and Sustainable Operations team as well as the industry teams, and every one of them has both a personal and professional commitment to their work.  Every day I look at them and think “Wow.  I am so lucky to work with people of this caliber, who are truly changing the world for the better.”  They are applying the very best of SAP’s significant innovations to address the challenges of operational risk management, and product safety and stewardship, and energy and environmental resource management.  And I am so very proud of them.

    I recognize this is a rather long comment – but you did ask me to comment!  If I sound passionate, it is because I am. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to share that passion with those engaged with your blog.

  • Sir Spath;

    Thanks for documenting this issue and thanks to you and Matthias for tagging me so that I saw it.  As I understand it the main concern is that the sustainability community is not moderated — this is a worthy concern and I too will hope that our fine leaders of sustainability pitch in a comment.  Perhaps even they are not aware — which is not great, but at least leads us down a different line of speculation.

    As other in this thread, I don’t have the pleasure of working directly with the sustainability organization — but echo the statement that SAP’s commitment — even committtttttment 🙂 — stays strong.

    So strong, perhaps, that it’s now a factor in every vein at SAP — as it should be — but which also makes it hard to moderate the whole company – the whole world — but if that’s what’s needed, that’s what we dang well will need to do.



  • Jim,

    My PoV: SCN activity is a poor proxy for SAP commitment or market interest in a topic.

    The issue I see is that despite the awesome talent we continue to see around these topics and are able to recruit to SAP (Marcia!), despite the new innovations we are bringing to market (Product Stewardship Network!), and last but not least the growth in our business, the SCN investment from the SCN community continues to be quite poor. Presumably because most of our active community, like you, do not have first-hand exposure to SAP Sustainability Solutions.

    Maybe I’m wrong though? What can we do to improve the current situation?

    As I tweeted briefly, my thinking is that with the implementation wave currently starting around Incident Management, Risk Management, Product Compliance, Energy Management, etc that we can drive more content and interaction here.

    Edit – Jim is not a troll. I stand corrected.

    • Hi Jeremiah Stone;

      the SCN investment from the SCN community continues to be quite poor. Presumably because most of our active community, like you, do not have first-hand exposure to SAP Sustainability Solutions.


      … to which I’d respectfully submit that lack of engagement in a community — especially when it’s around a key current topic – happens when there is no perceived traction amongst the claimed leaders or no community management or engagement from the active stakeholders.

      The impression this sends is that online community engagement is not important to the SAP Sustainability organization or leaders.  Am I wrong? Or where else is there a community online in which SAP Sustainability engages?



      • Jeremiah wrote to me to tell me there is an entire Web site devoted to community engagement around Sustainability.  I had not known this — my apologies for mistaking the comment above to be anti-community and for my failings at having a broad overview of the Sustainability team’s external engagement.

        With that information, wouldn’t it behoove the two entrypoints (SCN Sustainability community and Sustainability web site) to work together? Perhaps this is already happening.

        And I’ll reiterate what I said in my initial comment:  SAP’s commitment is strong – so strong – in sustainability that the green kiss you refer to Jim might actually be the green kiss of life. 

        • Moya – thanks. As Jeremiah Stone probably mentioned, he and I have conversed periodically over the last few years on this topic, particularly around the schism of internal and external content visibility. When you say “another community” – would that be on “Collaboration Workspace” ( or on the SAP Sustainability report site ( or on a Streamwork site (no clue to that URL) or on an SAP cubefarm site (now called SAP Jam) or on an internal SAP site that non-employees can’t reach? If it’s on SCN (the “SAP Community Network”), I don’t know about it.

          • The primary investment was on the report site where we have worked continuously to re-architect in a way which enables engagement with the online community. This, of course, diverted traffic and activity from SCN…

            This blog has started a vigorous discussion internally – this is good!

            The Sustainability team’s first focus is to gain SAP agreement on what our goals are with regard to SCN in terms of who we can and wish to engage with here and what our best strategy and set-up for that will be. Not having clarity here appears to be a root cause of some of our challenges in sustaining activity in this space.

            One option & suggestion from the community team is to combine the various spaces – Sustainability, Carbon Impact, Green IT, Environment Health & Safety into a common space. We would then commit more SAP time for curating and aligning content. This has worked well in the Mobility spaces.

            Another option is to “merge down” into EHSM where the activity is quite robust, or to focus on industry areas where there is a lot of activity already as well – see Marcia’s recent work on Energy Management in the Manufacturing & Mill & Mining areas.

            Ultimately, what we really need to be clear on is what value SAP can provide the community and what the community wants to gain from a network area and interaction space.


  • Hi Jim…good to hear your thoughts on this. As Jeremiah explains, the investment from the community has been far from robust. What accounts for this? As always in a community, that’s difficult to ascertain. But as you are an interested party, community member and a moderator for this space, curious to know – what would keep you more engaged?

    • Patrick:

      • But as you are an interested party, community member and a moderator for this space, curious to know – what would keep you more engaged?

      It’s hard to say how someone can be more engaged than a moderator, but then, the new SCN isn’t as easy to find content (specifically blogs) as the old version was. There are 56 blog posts on this space, just since 2012 (though dates can be flexible in Jive). I have written only one, and can’t say I’ve read any others, presumably since no one mentioned me or forwarded it to me.

      I’m notified of discussion threads, but apparently not blog posts.  The snippets of blog titles that go to twitter are squeezed out of recognition, and I don’t view all of them anyway.  With only 82 discussion threads total (surely many forums top that number each week) there isn’t much to comment on.  Tough questions I forward to SAP contacts, others just lay there.

      There are over 100 documents in the space, including the odd podcast I did in the old SCN.  Most, however, are application reference manuals of some sort, or the odd white paper I’d barely glance at.  No comments, no likes, no stars.  No one goes there, either.

  • Hi All,

    I’d like to reiterate a point that Jeremiah makes regarding first-hand exposure to SAP Sustainability Solutions. I speak on this issue from the partner ecosystem perspective. I’m a consultant with over 15 years of experience implementing SAP solutions and a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Science that I’d really like to utilize professionally. To that goal, I’ve spent the last 27 months trying to ramp up on SAP Sustainability Solutions so that I can include those implementation services in my professional service offerings. I have to say, I’ve spent a lot of time and $$ but it’s not going well. The major road block I face is getting access to the solutions to get the hands-on experience required to truly know the solutions inside and out. I have plenty of reading material, thanks to SCN, SDN, and the Service Marketplace; but that’s not enough from the customers’ perspective, and it leaves me feeling that I’m not yet prepared or qualified to contribute to the SCN Sustainability community.

    Here’s some history that I hope may provide ideas to help grow the SAP Sustainability community. My consulting firm is a “mom & pop”, albeit with a significant global presence for a company of our size. We’ve gained a reputation as the go-to service provider for SAP-integrated Enterprise Content Management. How? Primarily because the 3rd-party ECM solution vendor provides its professional service partners with unlimited download access to all of their solutions (for training and demo purposes only of course). This makes it very easy to gain the skills required to perform rapid deployments, and also to show potential customers how the solutions work and can benefit them – generating more sales for the vendor over the long-run. This strategy does not exclude smaller partners, who are often more likely to find their niche supporting the more specialized solutions.

    I spent this past Nov. & Dec. searching for access to a cloud-hosted SAP training system that includes SAP Sustainability Solutions, but none of the cloud-hosted training systems I found include EHS, SuPM, or REA (the 3 solutions I’m currently focusing on). If anyone knows of one, please provide details!

    After extensive searching I’m coming to the realization that I currently have only 3 options to get hands-on access to the solutions:

    1. make a major investment into purchasing and maintaining an SAP system with EHS, SuPM, and REA (not really sustainable for a consulting firm of our size…plus, no one will sell such a system to a company of 2 employees – I’ve tried to buy one many several over the past 12 years),

    2. partner with a larger consulting firm that already has a training/demo system that includes the SAP Sustainability Solutions (actively working on this one, no luck so far),

    3. or take a job with a company or consulting firm that runs SAP and is looking for someone to implement/support SAP Sustainability Solutions (haven’t had much luck here either).

    Over the past 2 years I’ve met 50 or so people at conferences and trainings who are interested in the SAP Sustainability Solutions – all potential SCN Sustainability community contributors. I’ve not heard from them again, aside for a few immediate follow-up emails. If they’ve experienced the difficulties I’ve experienced in trying to become an active participant in the SAP Sustainability realm, I can only imagine that they’ve moved on to follow an easier path. We’re all too busy trying to make a living to have to work this hard for something. I’m at that very cross-road right now.

    So, how can SAP increase the ecosystem of people who have experienced the SAP Sustainability Solutions (seen them, touched them, played with them – not just read about them)? These are the people who I believe will talk about them, promote them, implement and support them, provide suggestions for improving them, share experiences using them, contribute to the community – both inside and outside of SCN. “Out of sight, out of mind” is a hard fact of human behavior.

    Sorry for the length of this response. I hope is sparks some ideas.

    Best Regards to all,

    Suzanne Karcher (aspiring SAP Sustainability Solutions guru)

    • Suzanne Karcher

      Terrific response, and a response that if you could, turn into a blog in this space, or a discussion.  It’s a request for help and perhaps others in the “ecosystem” have an idea to help you.

      I’ve seen SAP Sustainability presentations before at University Alliance events, SAP Inside tracks – albeit not recently, and none in the past year.


      • Tammy – Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll put something up next week (working a deadline this week).

        By the way, I’ve also seen SAP Sustainability presentations, and demos of the solutions, but it’s just not the same as getting to drive the software yourself.