Forget carbon footprint — after COP26, the watchword for the decade ahead should, in reality, be corporate footprint. Yes, this is still very much about carbon, but a vital step in the fight against global warming is recognising the role of large multinational corporations’ impact on CO2 levels — particularly in the tech world. For instance, a statistics report from last year found that Apple had contributed around 22.6 million metric tons of carbon in the previous year. Sustainable enterprise is the way forward.
A common argument deployed around this topic is that sustainability and eco-friendly policies cannot be squared with a good business strategy. Others, however, recognise this for what it is: a weak rationale some companies use to absolve themselves of responsibility.
The German tech conglomerate SAP is one example of a corporation implementing a full-scale overhaul for meeting the next decade’s crucial climate goals. This article will explore the steps that the company is taking to facilitate sustainable enterprise.
What is SAP?
Even if you haven’t heard of SAP, the software has played a role in your life, whether as a professional, employer or customer. SAP actually stands for Systems, Applications and Products in Data Processing, and was founded by the German tech multinational of the same name in 1972.
In 2022, a SAP system handles — at least partly — an estimated 77% of global transaction revenues. The reason the platform is so widely used is because it allows companies to centralise data and exchange it quickly across different departments. For instance, sales information can be made visible to HR, and vice-versa. This enables smoother management and financial efficiency, which leads to greater revenue.
Since it is so widely used across enterprises all over the world, the emerging profession of SAP consultants has also become increasingly in demand. Therefore, not only is the software significantly helpful for enterprises, it also offers an exciting career path. Budding consultants not only have the opportunity to learn “cross-transferable skills”, Eursap points out, but also, as SAP “is used by companies globally”, it “often offers the opportunity to travel/relocate for those who wish to do so”.
How is SAP Facilitating Sustainable Enterprise?
SAP has already adapted core operations to certain sustainability objectives, which is most plainly demonstrated by its commitment becoming carbon neutral by 2023. The company is working towards this in numerous ways; This includes everything from harnessing its own platforms to measure SAP’s environmental impact and using telecommunication technologies rather than travelling, to relying on energy-efficient lighting in offices and using efficient cooling systems in data centres.
Julia White, SAP’s Chief Marketing Officer, told Forbes that not only is the company adapting its own business practices, but that its software technology is, in general, integral in making all enterprises fit for the future: “SAP wants to make sustainability profitable and profitability sustainable”, she maintained, arguing that the focus of the company is “about using the cloud, streamlining data structures, and process integration across the organisation to better manage supply chains and help solve challenges such as climate change”.
But just how is this put into action? Here are some examples of how SAP is determining the wider impact — not just of itself, but any modern business — on the planet.
1. Sustainable Business Metrics
While the priority was once about determining financial outcomes, SAP has become a crucial tool for helping companies create and assess business strategies that are measured by not just commercial performance but also their social and green impact. For example, SAP’s Ariba Supplier Risk API can rank the risk profile of a business’ current or potential suppliers according to their sustainability ratings. This, for one, helps companies establish the ecological risk of both the internal and external parts of their supply chain, and also makes clear where operations can be improved on this holistic basis.
2. Micro-Management of Carbon
One of the advantages of innovation in data structures and supply chain management — two of SAP’s USPs — is how analytics and information processing can be used to make CO2 emissions even more transparent across the whole chain of business operations. By using data from product databases and programs such as Product Footprint Management, the amount of carbon required for a specific action can be calculated by comparisons to other parts of the value chain.
3. Regenerative Principles
Regeneration is one of the most pressing ideas in the conversation about how corporations can influence a greener economy. SAP has placed circularity at its core: the idea that the positive impact on society, rather than merely profit, is the driver for any modern enterprise. The ambition is to ‘build back greener’. The platform for this target, SAP Cloud for Sustainable Enterprise, helps make circularity the operative business model by, for one, tracing, recovering and reusing materials through the use of data.