SAP’s new Sustainability Performance Management tool could be a real game-changer!

SAP BusinessObjects Sustainability Performance Management

Sustainability reporting is a bit all over the place. Standards, such as they are, are many, not widely agreed on, and are loosely observed.

One of the better sustainability reports to emerge this year was SAP’s. Unlike the staid PDF documents most companies put out, SAP’s is a website which allows reasonably deep linking ( here’s the section on SAP’s 2008 Carbon Footprint, for example – notice how you can change it to see footprint by region, KTon or Kg/employee, and get extra info by rolling the mouse over the charts). SAP also rolled out a discussion area where people can comment on SAP’s materiality and the Sustainability report.

Hugely impressive stuff from SAP and extremely innovative.

SAP regularly in discussions around sustainability make the point that while their carbon footprint of almost 500,000 tonnes per annum is significant, the combined footprint of their clientbase is 10,000 times their own! SAP are taking the line that while it is important for SAP to reduce their own emissions, helping reduce their clients carbon footprint could produce a far better long-term planetary outcome. As long as companies remember that, as I have said before, the correct order is Planet first, then People, and then Profit.

SAP have taken the next logical step with their Sustainability report. They have productised it!

Now the technology to produce a sustainability report similar to SAP’s will be available to all SAP customers. The app will connect into most ERP apps to pull out the data for Sustainability Performance Management reporting so being an SAP customer is not a pre-requisite for getting this to work, as far as I understand it.

The app comes with a library of 100+ sustainability framework reporting KPI’s, it comes with a ton of scorecards and dashboards for reporting, which allows companies to focus on improving sustainability performance as opposed to gathering data and compiling reports.

The product is not finalised yet and won’t be made available for another month or two but if it delivers on half of what it promises, it is a potential game changer in the world of sustainability reporting.

I hope to interview someone from SAP shortly to get more details on SAP’s Sustainability Performance Management tool, and as soon as I do, I will post the interview here.

[Disclosure – SAP talked to me about their Sustainability Performance Management at SAP TechEd 2009. They paid for my travel and accommodation to attend this event]


Never run a conference at a venue that can’t provide water dispensing machines, instead of bottled water

Bottled water is bad

I attend a lot of conferences.

The two most recent ones I was at were both run by SAP. The first was the International SAP for Utilities conference in Munich, the second was the SAP TechEd conference in Vienna. Both events were very interesting for a variety of reasons but both conferences left a nasty (dry) taste in my mouth because the only water available to drink was bottled water!

What is the big deal about using bottled water, you ask?
Well, according to Food and Water Watch:

Bottled water wastes fossil fuels and water in production and transport, and when the water is drunk the bottles become a major source of waste. It takes more than 47 million gallons of oil to produce plastic water bottles for Americans every year. Eliminating those bottles would be like taking 100,000 cars off the road and 1 billion pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Each one of those bottles required nearly five times its volume in water to manufacture the plastic and may have caused the release of nickel, ethylene oxide, and benzene. Then, rather than being recycled, 86 percent of them are thrown away. Breaking down these plastics can take thousands of years, while their components seep into our water supplies.

And don’t just take their word for it, check out the NRDC’s page on bottled water. See also’s 5 Reasons not to drink Bottled Water and even Wikipedia’s entry on bottled water vs tap water, which tells us amongst other things that:

In the United States, bottled water costs between $0.25 and $2 per bottle while tap water costs less than US$0.01. In 1999, according to a NRDC study, U.S. consumers paid between 240 and 10,000 times more per unit volume for bottled water than for tap water. According to, about 90% of manufacturer’s costs is from making the bottle, label, and cap.

What’s worse, a significant proportion of bottled water is simply tap water which has been bottled! No, really. Both Aquafina from PepsiCo and Dasani from The Coca-Cola Company originate from municipal water systems, for example!

Despite all that, an estimated 50 billion bottles of water are consumed per annum in the US and around 200 billion bottles globally.

Come on SAP. You are working hard on improving your sustainability message. And by and large are doing a good job at it but really, bottled water? In 2009?

Here’s my challenge to SAP (and all conference organisers) – make commitment that you will never again run a conference at a venue that can’t provide water dispensing machines, instead of bottled water.

Seriously, if you are negotiating with a venue about holding your event and you mention that that is a dealbreaker, they’ll provide the machines.