SAP: 'It's about business'
For those who might live in a bubble, or even just a conscientious, pedestrian-friendly community, Orlando, Florida, is a bit of a write off.
And yet here we are at SAPPHIRE NOW, on the mega-conference circuit, with its hidden-fee hotels, cheesy chain restaurants and seas of parking lots, down in the dark depths and forced air of the massive Orlando Convention Center – to talk about sustainable business innovation at SAP.
The ubiquitous SAP. Four decades old. Largest enterprise software company in the world, with tentacles of business activity in nearly every sector of the economy. The German-based corporation enjoyed a spectacular recovery from the global recession. (SAP’s stock, which cascaded like many of its peers in the recession, hit a low of near $30 per share in late 2008 but rebounded to record highs of over $60 per share by early 2011 – and tipped above $70 per share this year.)
SAPPHIRE NOW attendees were gifted a Van Halen concert at the closing party. But they weren’t exposed to a major track on sustainability content at the conference, which attracts more of a business- than a tech-focused audience. That’s largely because sustainability is interwoven throughout most of the overall content (and the real star of this year’s show – SAP’s new Hana product).
According to SAP’s Peter Graf, this can be attributed to integrated thinking, and a striking increase in the sophistication of sustainability technology and innovation in the corporate world since 2009, when he moved from SAP’s deputy chief of marketing role to the chief sustainability officer spot.
At the time, SAP set out by interviewing 100 customers across a variety of industries to assess their broader views on risk, compliance and energy price volatility in a world of finite resources. Finding solutions to these business concerns is the basis for SAP’s four-pronged approach for investment in sustainability, laboriously repeated by SAP execs in clear, consistent messaging:
- Operational risk management
- Sustainable supply chain and product footprinting
- Energy and environmental resource management
- Sustainability reporting and analytics