SAP Startup Focus in newly industrialised countries

Vishal Sikka, SAP CTO

As we have said before here, sustainability job number one is putting bread on the table. To that end, it was great to see SAP’s Startup Focus program take off so well, gaining over 1,000 companies signed up in less than two years.

We profiled the Startup Focus program here on GreenMonk earlier this year, talking to three of the participant companies about it. They were very enthusiastic about how it had helped them break into the enterprise software market, and said they wished they’d joined the program sooner.

More recently, we spotted news from TechEd Bangalore that SAP CTO Vishal Sikka announced there that of the over 1,000 companies who have joined the Startup Focus program, 158 of the come from India. I’d love to know what percentage of the Startup Focus companies overall come from newly industrialised countries, and what level of employment they are helping create.

SAP, the move into startups, and job creation

Sustainability job number one is putting bread on the table.

Given that, and the huge numbers of people out of work at the moment, any initiative which fosters employment creation, is a definite sustainability win.

Recent research conducted by the US Census Bureau and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation found that:

…virtually all net new job creation over the past three decades has come from new businesses less than one year old – true “start-ups.” New businesses, according to the research, create an average of three million new jobs annually, while existing firms of any age, type, or size shed a net average of about one million jobs each year, as some businesses fail and as others incorporate technology and become more efficient. If the policy target is job creation, new business formation is the bull’s-eye.

With that in mind, anything which specifically encourages startups is definitely to be lauded.

Now you don’t often hear SAP and startups mentioned in the same sentence, but that may be about to change. In March last year (2012), SAP decided to change that, so they set up their Startup Focus program. They help an event to which they invited startups, and they chose 10 to work with. These were showcased at Sapphire. By late last year, the number of companies enrolled had grown to 150. By this year’s Sapphire (May 2013), the number of companies had swelled to 450. And by this year’s TechEd (October 2013), it was announced that the number was now in excess of 1,000 from 55 countries globally.

That’s a very impressive growth rate, which SAP are continuing to extend, by all accounts. I spoke to several of the startup companies at TechEd and they were full of praise for the program, their only regret being that they hadn’t joined it sooner!

Dell launches its 2020 Legacy of Good Plan

Dell water bottle

Yesterday (Oct 15th 2013) Dell published their 2020 Legacy of Good Plan. In this plan they commit to

leaving a positive, measurable, and lasting contribution to out planet and our society.

Lofty goals indeed, but what about some of the more concrete specifics? Well Dell has published 21 concrete goals with an end-date of 2020 by which they have to achieve them.

The goals cover three distinct categories, Environment, People and Communities.

The Environmental goals include:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our facilities and logistics operations by 50%
  • Reduce the energy intensity of our product portfolio by 80% and
  • Ensure 100 percent of Dell packaging is either recyclable or compostable

The People goals include:

  • Increase university hiring to a rate of 25 percent of all external hiring
  • Engage 40 percent of our global Dell team in employee resource groups by 2020 and
  • Achieve 75 percent favorable responses (or higher) in team member satisfaction globally as measured through the annual employee satisfaction survey

While the two Community goals are:

  • Engage 75 percent of team members in community service by 2020 and provide 5 million cumulative hours of service to the communities in which we live and work and
  • Apply our expertise and technology in underserved communities to help 3 million youth directly and support 10 million people indirectly to grow and thrive

The goals are all extremely laudable and measurable, and Dell has committed to transparency in the process. It will be interesting to watch Dell’s progress with the plan, especially as we come closer to the end-date 2020.

Dell claims to have worked closely with its customers in formulating this plan, but according to this Twitter conversation, not all Dell’s customers are on-board, as yet

An obvious goal missing from the People section would be to increase the number of female executives in the organisation, though Dell is already one of the top US companies for executive women. No harm to have written goals for this too though.

Finally while discussing this initiative with David Lear, Dell’s Executive Director of sustainability programs, I asked him what was going to happen to this program given Dell’s move from being a publicly traded to a privately owned company. He responded that because the plan was generated in consultation with Dell’s customer base, those customer’s were unlikely to change significantly after the privatisation, and Dell’s commitment to them wouldn’t change either.

Ariba’s AribaLive conference reviewed

AribaLive 2013

I attended the AribaLive event in Berlin last week – this is the European conference for Ariba customers and partners to share stories, network and learn from one another.

Ariba is a company which provides electronic sales and procurement solutions for companies. There are over 1 million companies in 190 countries using Ariba. Customer companies mentioned or presenting included Clariant, Solvay, Disney, Deutsche Bank, Astra Zeneca, Fujitsu, Aviva and EADS. Naturally I was curious to hear how their customers fared from dematerialising parts of their buying and selling processes.

I wasn’t totally clear on some of the advantages the Ariba offers buyers and sellers until Ariba President Kevin Costello, in his keynote explained it with a good analogy to the likes of Facebook, Amazon and eBay. As Costello said, Facebook has completely changed how people connect/reconnect. Similarly, eBay and Amazon have totally transformed how people shop for goods. I knew exactly what he meant as I’ve recently bought a new camera. I started by checking camera review sites and Amazon reviews to find the best camera for my needs. I then went to both eBay and Amazon to identify the best deal, from the most reputable seller. Being able to see peer reviews not just of the camera, but of the sellers as well, meant I was very confident when I decided to buy my secondhand camera, that I would get a good product at a good price.

In the same way, Costello said, the Ariba Network brings huge transparency to enterprise buyers and sellers, allowing them to make purchasing, or sales decisions more efficiently and with fewer concerns. In fact, the consumerisation of business commerce was a term used throughout the event.

Several customer presentations followed with organisations like Spanish building company FCC mentioning that they both source €2 billion, and cut 80,000 electronic invoices with their Ariba system annually. They estimate they are saving 10% per annum by using Ariba.

Apart from the efficiencies of using electronic solutions, how else does one benefit (to the tune of 10%, for example) by using Ariba?

invoice

Well part of the answer was provided in the talk given by EADS Vice President of Accounts Payable, Bob McCartney. He talked about the cost of dealing with incoming invoices for EADS. According to McCartney, dealing with an invoice manually costs EADS €15, running it through OCR brings the price down to €4 per invoice, while the price of dealing with e-invoices is €2. That is massive – electronic invoicing is half the cost of OCR’d invoices and seven and a half times cheaper than manual invoices. Right there you see a huge business case for e-invoicing.

Other advantages of electronic invoicing outlined by McCartney were – a recurring 22% cost saving, increasing on-time payment of suppliers, improved visibility/forecasting of the company’s cash position, and improved relations with suppliers (more process transparency, as well as on-time payments).

Finally, Ariba’s Supplier Risk Management solution was interesting to learn about as well. This solution allows users to, for example, figure out in the event of a natural disaster in a distant part of the world, what the potential impact may on your organisations supply chain. Though a more interesting use case, given it can drill down several layers into your supply chain may be avoiding the use of conflict minerals in your products, for example.

Full disclosure – Ariba paid my travel and accommodation to attend this event.

SAP releases its Integrated Report 2012 – an integrated financial and sustainability report

SAP released their first Sustainability report in 2008 (their 2007/2008 report). Like the reports of most other companies at the time, it was released as a PDF document but SAP quickly shifted gears. SAP’s 2008 Sustainability report, was released as a website. This had the dual purpose of making the site more accessible, and also allowing SAP to see which areas of the site had more traction. The following year they made their report more social and every year since they have added something new.

As well as releasing its Sustainability reports each year, SAP also published its annual financial reports. This year, for the first time, SAP have integrated the two reports and they have just published their SAP Integrated Report 2012. It takes the form of a highly interactive website with built-in analytics and downloadable PDF’s.

This was an idea GreenMonk first mooted when I asked SAP’s Chief Sustainability Officer Peter Graf in a 2011 interview whether SAP had any plans to integrate the two documents.

On a conference call at the launch of the integrated report, SAP Chief Accounting Officer Christoph Hütten went to great pains to stress that this wasn’t merely the content of both reports in one, but that the content was very tightly bound together. The report demonstrates how connections and inter-dependencies between financial and non-financial performance impact each other, he said.

The document/website contains all the financial and sustainability-related information you would expect to find in reports of this type. And the report also has a nice page showcasing and explaining the connections between the financial and non-financial performance.

Other nice features of the report are an integrated tweetstream showcasing mentions of the #sapintegrated hashtag on some pages, an option to make notes on pages (with the ability to download those pages as PDF’s subsequently), and the download centre for downloading the annotated pages, as well as financial statements, graphics and other reports.

For the first time also, SAP are releasing their 2012 sustainability information in XBRL format (.zip file) – something GreenMonk also suggested to SAP back in 2011. If you are unfamiliar with XBRL, it is an XML-based global standard for exchanging business information.

Impressive as well was the fact that at the end of the conference call launching the report, Peter Graf mentioned that SAP are actively looking to co-innovate. He asked that anyone, be they in the financial or sustainability reporting space, who is interested in integrated reporting get in touch with him to work together to bring integrated reporting to everyone “at the lowest possible cost and highest possible precision”.

The video above is a demo of the report and I have placed a transcript of the video here.

Sustainability, social media and big data

The term Big Data is becoming the buzz word du jour in IT these days popping up everywhere, but with good reason – more and more data is being collected, curated and analysed today, than ever before.

Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter announced last week that Twitter is now publishing 500 million tweets per day. Not alone is Twitter publishing them though, it is organising them and storing them in perpetuity. That’s a lot of storage, and 500 million tweets per day (and rising) is big data, no doubt.

And Facebook similarly announced that 2.5 billion content items are shared per day on its platform, and it records 2.7 billion Likes per day. Now that’s big data.

But for really big data, it is hard to beat the fact that CERN’s Large Hadron Collider creates 1 petabyte of information every second!

And this has what to do with Sustainability, I hear you ask.

Well, it is all about the information you can extract from that data – and there are some fascinating use cases starting to emerge.

A study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene found that Twitter was as accurate as official sources in tracking the cholera epidemic in Haiti in the wake of the deadly earthquake there. The big difference between Twitter as a predictor of this epidemic and the official sources is that Twitter was 2 weeks faster at predicting it. There’s a lot of good that can be done in crisis situations with a two week head start.

Another fascinating use case I came across is using social media as an early predictor of faults in automobiles. A social media monitoring tool developed by Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business can provide car makers with an efficient way to discover and classify vehicle defects. Again, although at early stages of development yet, it shows promising results, and anything which can improve the safety of automobiles can have a very large impact (no pun!).

GE's Grid IQ Insight social media monitoring tool

GE have come up with another fascinating way to mine big data for good. Their Grid IQ Insight tool, slated for release next year, can mine social media for mentions of electrical outages. When those posts are geotagged (as many social media posts now are), utilities using Grid IQ Insight can get an early notification of an outage in its area. Clusters of mentions can help with confirmation and localisation. Photos or videos added of trees down, or (as in this photo) of a fire in a substation can help the utility decide which personnel and equipment to add to the truckroll to repair the fault. Speeding up the repair process and getting customers back on a working electricity grid once again can be critical in an age where so many of our devices rely on electricity to operate.

Finally, many companies are now using products like Radian6 (now re-branded as Salesforce Marketing Cloud) to actively monitor social media for mentions of their brand, so they can respond in a timely manner. Gatorade in the video above is one good example. So too are Dell. Dell have a Social Media Listening Command Centre which is staffed by 70 employees who listen for and respond to mentions of Dell products 24 hours a day in 11 languages (English, plus Japanese, Chinese, Portugese, Spanish, French, German, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, and Korean). The sustainability angle of this story is that Dell took their learnings from setting up this command centre and used them to help the American Red Cross set up a similar command centre. Dell also contributed funding and equipment to help get his off the ground.

No doubt the Command Centre is proving itself invaluable to the American Red Cross this week mining big data to help people in need in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

CloudApps releases their employee engagement app Sumo

CloudApps SuMo

CloudApps recently released SuMo, their sustainability employee engagement app. The name SuMo comes from the words Sustainability Momentum we’re told, and this is because SuMo was designed to maintain the momentum of an organisation’s sustainability initiative. GreenMonk was given a demo account on SuMo so we could take it for a test drive, and it is a cool little app.

CloudApps sell a suite of sustainability software products for organisations. Their applications sit on top of Salesforce’s Force.com cloud platform, which allows CloudApps to focus on writing the software, and not have to be concerned with maintaining the server infrastructure which runs their programs.

CloudApps solutions already have quite comprehensive capabilities, so it was interesting to see them come out with this employee engagement module.

Pledging a challenge in CloudApps SuMo

The SuMo application works well on mobile devices and it is designed to foster interest and ongoing enthusiasm for sustainability initiatives amongst an organisation’s workforce. It does this by allowing employees to pledge to participate in a number of challenges supplied by the organisation. These challenges are categorised, ranked for difficulty and assigned points.

As employees carry out these challenges (anything from switching from short haul flights, to teleconferencing for their next meeting, to volunteering at a local charity event), they are assigned points and badges, which determines their position on the Leader Board.

Because SuMo sits on Force.com, it can take in data from an organisation’s ERP applications, as well as reporting them back. So initiatives undertaken by employees in SuMo can be reported directly into its back-end systems and the savings accounted for.

CloudApps SuMo adding an idea screen

Also, a nice touch in SuMo is the ability for employees to add new ideas to the site. These ideas can be voted on by colleagues, commented on and favourited. It’s nice to see a bit of social working its way into these kinds of enterprise apps. This will certainly help the app be more engaging and sticky for users. This is something whose importance shouldn’t be underestimated for industries with issues around recruitment and retention.

The user interface has a few little quirks (it is not always as intuitive as it could be), and the app needs to become more social (include Share on Twitter, Share on Facebook, etc. buttons) buttons, but presumably that will all come with time. For a version 1.0 app though this is a creditable effort.

Full disclosure – CloudApps is not a GreenMonk client but CloudApps did give GreenMonk a free 30-day trial SuMo account so we could kick the tires of the app.

Image credits Tom Raftery

Employee engagement helps SAP’s carpooling initiative

I spoke with SAP’s Chief Sustainability Officer Peter Graf recently about some of SAP’s internal initiatives around reducing their carbon footprint. One of their biggest sources of emissions is company cars (22% of emissions in Q2 2012 – the only higher was business flights at 42%).

So SAP started a program to encourage car sharing called TwoGo. The program has an app which matches people who are driving to work, with those looking for a lift. It matches people based on common interests (and allows you to block people you don’t like!).

It allows you to track who’s the Greenest of your friends and it incentivises people by having allotted parking spots for car-poolers. Another nice incentive was that the money you saved from your carpooling could be donated to a charity of your choice – as Peter put it – “You could car pool for a cause”.

The slogan used within the company to promote carpooling wasn’t about saving the company money, or about saving the planet, it was “Make New Friends – Know the Gossip.” Even the CEO joined in.

At the time of the video above, SAP had created 20,000 car pools. It will be interesting to see how getting the employees engaged in this project will affect the 22% of emissions in Q2 that SAP had from company cars.

Full disclosure – SAP is an occasional client of GreenMonk’s video services.

Logica’s Sustainability Analyst briefing

Logica's Annual Report cover

Logica held a Sustainability Analysts day in London recently and they invited me to attend.

Pictured above is the cover of Logica’s 2011 Annual Report [PDF] – their Annual Report mind, not their Sustainability Report [PDF]. And yet the title of Logica’s Annual Report is Shaping a Sustainable Future. This is a good indicator of Logica’s proactive stance on Sustainability.

The half-day briefing was a mix of Logica staff talking about the company’s Sustainability products and services, as well as a couple of customers (Carbon Disclosure Project and National Centre for Earth Observation) discussing the value they get from their relationship with Logica. While it was nice having a couple of customers presenting at the event, the fact that neither of these customers are commercial enterprises, per se, could lead one to wonder whether Sustainability is lower on the agenda of traditional enterprise.

Having said that, Logica’s Tony Rooke had a slide with a long list of commercial customers for Logica’s sustainability services. Interestingly these were typically infrastructure companies like utilities, Airwave and Network Rail.

The Logica led sessions were around what Logica is calling Smart Utilities, Sustainable Mobility and also Logica’s Engagement Carbon Calculator.

In the Smart Utilities space, Logica’s Rich Hampshire talked about Logica’s three-pronged strategy (security of supply, affordability, and decarbonising energy). Logica have a Smart as a Service offering here for utilities, and Logica have traditionally been very strong in this sector.

In the burgeoning Sustainable Mobility field, Logica’s Theo Quick talked about a 10,000 point electric car charging network that Logica are rolling out in the Netherlands with eLaad.nl. This was rolled out using the Open Charge Point protocol to allow interoperability between charge points. Logica’s EMO is a vehicle emission monitoring product which, according to Logica, saved a postal company 10% of its fuel in the first three months of use. Theo also mentioned a research project called EPTIMS being rolled out in Manchester – this is a Smartphone app to encourage use of public transport by telling people when they have reached their stop, and one called eCoMove which is an FP7 funded project to reduce the number of trucks traveling around empty (transporting air).

And, Logica’s Stuart Williams mentioned their Engagement Carbon Calculator. This is a Logica offering which is in late beta mode right now. What it does is for any project that Logica carries out, it takes the client’s emissions in a business as usual case, subtracts the actual emissions, as well as the emissions of Logica’s project involvement, to give a savings result for the project.

It was heartening at this event to see Logica’s commitment sustainability, in a time when for most companies sustainability is a fancy word for cutting energy bills.

In the days following this event, Logica announced it had agreed to be purchased by Canadian company CGI. Hopefully with the change of ownership, there won’t come any diminution in Logica’s sustainability focus.

Disclosure – Logica paid for my travel and accommodation to attend this event.

Photo Credit Tom Raftery

SAP’s Sustainability announcements at Sapphire Now

SAP co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe at Sapphire Now 2012

SAP co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe at Sapphire Now 2012

Technology innovation plays a major part in creating a sustainable world tomorrow

So said SAP co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe at this year’s SAP Sapphire Now conference in Orlando. He then went on to predict three major trends in computing for the coming years – according to Jim, in the next five years everything will move to Cloud, everything will be in main memory and everything will be mobile.

This wasn’t just some off-the-cuff remark – these three developments are core to SAP’s product roadmap – even in the Sustainability space.

In the mobile space for example, at Sapphire Now SAP announced a new version of a mobile app for incident management. With this app, workers can now log issues from their mobile device with a photo or video, as well as an audio recording, and send it directly to an incident or safety manager for corrective action. This crowd-sourcing of safety information also has built-in tracking of the reported incident which is hugely empowering for workers who may previously have felt their voice wasn’t heard. And for the companies deploying this solution it leads to a safer work environment and a happier workforce.

This puts me in mind of an initiative IBM rolled out with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) where they enabled students, teachers and staff to report issues like water leaks, broken aircon/heating, exposed cables and so on, by sending text messages and photos through their mobile phones. More please.

Also in the mobile sustainability space, SAP have their Electronic Medical Record app [SilverLight warning] – an app which gives doctors instant access to a patient’s electronic medical records.

In the Cloud space, SAP have made two major recent acquisitions – Successfactors and more recently Ariba at a cost of roughly $7.7bn. This is a clear indicator that while SAP maybe late to the party, it is serious about catching up.

And in the Sustainability space? Well SAP’s carbon management software, Carbon Impact OnDemand is already Cloud delivered. At SapphireNow SAP announced that they are going to rollout an on-demand service for product safety that the company is calling the SAP Product Stewardship and Safety Network. This will be a network where safety professionals can share safety information and best practices.

The irony of sustainability-related software being delivered via the Cloud, a technology which is not Green at all, is not lost on me. It does appear to be lost on SAP however – more on which in a follow-up post.

And finally in-memory computing – what is it? Well, you know how information held in RAM is much faster to access than information on disk, right? So HANA, SAP’s new in-memory database, is where the database is held in RAM for much faster data access. Also, in-memory databases can hold enormous quantities of data, and query them in milliseconds. This is a huge step forward in database technologies and according to SAP it will vastly simplify database maintenance as well because there should no longer be a need for large data warehouses.

Where do the HANA and Sustainability stories intersect? There are several examples – the first is in the area of Smart Grids and Smart meters. The volumes of information utility companies will be expected to handle after installing smart meters are orders of magnitude greater than anything they are used to. Realtime analysis of this firehose of information will allow for much better demand-side management, matching the demand curve to the supply curve, stabilising the grid and allowing for greater penetration of variable generators like wind and solar. Also, this availability of highly granular energy consumption data will facilitate the development of all kinds of new energy products and services that would have previously been impossible to offer. This is sorely needed by utilities who are in the uncomfortable position of currently (no pun) having to try to convince customers to buy less of their product.

Other use interesting cases are discussed in a great post on How Big Data Will Help Achieve Sustainability Goals by SAP’s Scott Bolick. And when you finish checking that out, head on over to Jennifer Lankheim’s post on SAP Situational Awareness for Public Sector where she discusses this new SAP Rapid Deployment Solution to help public safety and security organizations better anticipate, assess, and act on emergency situations.

We are only scratching the surface of what the implications of Big Data, Cloud, Mobility and in-memory computing are for sustainability. Expect to see far more announcements in this space in the near future.

Disclosure – SAP is a GreenMonk client and SAP paid my travel and expenses to attend Sapphire Now.

Photo Credit Tom Raftery