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SAP Launches Sustainability Management App

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SAP on Thursday unveiled what it believes is the software industry’s most
comprehensive and useful green application to date with the launch of SAP
BusinessObjects Sustainability Management.

The application, which was developed with the help of some of SAP’s
(NYSE: SAP) largest and most environmentally conscience customers including
Lexmark and Nestle, will give enterprise customers the ability to cull
through hundreds of business applications and extract the pertinent
sustainability data and consolidate it in one dashboard to manage an
organization’s overall sustainability program.

Sustainability, which obviously includes environmental responsibility but
also incorporates social and economic considerations, is not just something
corporations do for good public relations these days — it’s a business

In October, Walmart (NYSE: WMT), which recorded more than $406 billion in
sales last year, threw down the
to its 100,000-plus suppliers worldwide with the creation of
the Walmart Sustainability Index.

The index is designed to provide Walmart and its customers with a single
source of data for evaluating the sustainability of the products it sells
and, not unintentionally, raises the bar for manufacturers looking to do
business with the world’s largest retailer.

Along those lines, more and more multinational corporations are
voluntarily participating in the Global Reporting Initiative
, a network-based organization that’s established the framework for
benchmarking organizational performance with respect to sustainable
development and commerce.

To meet the demands of the Walmarts of the world — to say nothing of
current and future environmental legislation by local, national and
international governments — companies are faced with the daunting challenge
of gathering all their data, like carbon emissions, water consumption,
electricity used in the datacenter, and so on. And they have to make sense
of it without spending millions in what’s still somewhat of an altruistic

SAP, which prides itself as the leader among software vendors on the Dow Jones Sustainability
for three years running, said its new sustainability management
application will deliver that data quickly from all the disparate
production, sales, manufacturing, HR and health and safety applications
running in the enterprise.

“We are so proud of this product,” Peter Graf, SAP’s chief sustainability
officer, said during a conference call Thursday. “It gives companies the
ability to truly drive their sustainability and live up to the promises made
to their customers, their employees and their management.”

The software provides a holistic view of an organization’s sustainability
indicators and features an easy-to-use interface that streamlines internal
and external reporting. SAP officials said it then helps turn data into
actionable insight that can be cascaded and executed on throughout an
organization, making it easier to track compliance with sustainability
strategies across the business.

It includes a library of more than 100 key performance indicators that
were jointly developed with Nestle and Lexmark to identify the most
important environmental, social and business metrics required to deliver a
comprehensive view of an organization’s overall sustainability.

Using the business intelligence and analytics features developed by
BusinessObjects, the application analyzes these KPIs and provides them in a
single snapshot view, so C-level executives can quickly ascertain just how
well or how poorly a particular region or business unit is doing in its
sustainability efforts.

SAP officials said the application is designed to support SAP and non-SAP
business applications and can be used to manually input some data in an
organized and structured fashion that keeps all the data fresh and pooled in
the appropriate data fields.

“In conversations with our customers, they’ve told us that
[sustainability management] isn’t really a voluntary activity,” Graf said.
“It’s a mainstream task and managing it through phone calls and Excel
spreadsheets is to expensive.”

“The public and governments are putting pressure on them to be
accountable,” he added. “You have to make sure the information you have is
easily retrievable and audited.”

As the Walmart Sustainability Index was announced, the retailer made it
clear that there was an undeniably competitive element to the program — it
was designed to “create a race to the top,” according to a statement at the
time from Matt Kistler, Walmart’s senior vice president of sustainability.

Along with helping it facilitate the selection of “preferred products,”
Walmart said it also expects the index to help it track its enormous supply
chain, drive product innovation and variety and hold its buyers and
suppliers accountable for their impact on the environment and their local

“Sustainability is increasingly mission-critical across the corporate
world,” said Stephen Stokes, AMR Research’s vice president of sustainability
and green technologies. “Managing and reporting an organization’s
sustainable performance via transparent and high quality data collation,
analysis, optimization and modeling is a new basis for defining and
communicating operational excellence.”

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