Are SAP execs really committed to Sustainability?

SAP Co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe

I attended SAP’s 2010 Influencer Summit last week in Santa Clara and was quite impressed by the quality (though not necessarily the quantity) of the Sustainability-related information which was imparted there.

The event got off to a very good start when the company’s co-CEO, Jim Hagemann Snabe, addressed the event remotely from Germany instead of flying in. Now, while this was not specifically for sustainability-related reasons, it does clearly demonstrate that physical presence is not a necessity in addressing conferences. Even more heartening was to hear Jim referring to Sustainability themes in his keynote (I attended a Symantec event a few weeks back where the CEO and business unit leads made no mention of Sustainability, at all!).

However, following Jim’s talk, the execs who spoke after him made no reference, at all to Sustainability which was a big missed opportunity. SAP’s Rainer Zinow, for example, mentioned that the new version of SAP’s Netweaver product had been optimised for cloud and for multi-core architectures. When I asked him subsequently if it were also more energy efficient, he said “Absolutely” and offered to get me the info. This fact was confirmed to me the following day by Peter Graf in an energy efficiency event I attended.

Why wasn’t it part of the talk though – even if only a throwaway comment?

Scott Bolick at the 2010 SAP Influencer Summit

Scott Bolick at the 2010 SAP Influencer Summit

In fairness to SAP, there was a full Sustainability track the first afternoon with talks from SAP’s Peter Graf, Scott Bolick, Jeremiah Stone and Sami Muneer amongst others but how hard would it have been for the likes of Vishal Sikka, Sanjay Poonen or Raj Nathan, all of whom spoke after Jim Hagemann Snabe, to even throw in a sop to Sustainability in their presentations, even if only to keep the thought alive until the afternoon track.

The fact that the only senior manager to address sustainability was Jim Hagemann Snabe (with the exception of the Sustainability team, obviously), could lead one to wonder if Jim is alone in SAP in his commitment to Sustainability.

Having talked to many of the SAP execs about Sustainability over the years, I know this is not the case. But others present who haven’t had those conversations might now be wondering.