SAP’s Climate 21 initiative stresses sustainability as the biggest challenge

Climate 21 sustainability
Photo by Patpitchaya

According to SAP Executive Board member Thomas Saueressig, SAP’s new ‘Climate 21’ initiative came about because sustainability has emerged as the biggest challenge of the 21st century, in both the pre- and post-Covid19 pandemic eras.

The Covid-19 crisis has sharply boosted digital priorities globally on different levels. Commenters such as Digital Impact Alliance are urging governments to advance digital inclusion as a primary Sustainable Development Goal, and for industry – especially multinationals – to promulgate scalable, affordable and appropriate digital platforms.

As many government agencies such as Malaysia’s Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and industry voices urge us to increase digital adoption, the core issue of sustainability becomes an increasingly urgent planetary problem.

In his keynote and later Asia-Pacific media roundtable, Saueressig stressed again that even in the subsequent post-pandemic phase, “Sustainability is at the core of business. As companies, we are all under pressure. We are convinced that sustainability also represents a clear competitive advantage and financial and economic benefit.”

Nor is this SAP’s stance alone, Saueressig noted when getting down to industry examples. “According to IDG, digital retail organisations with high sustainability are outperforming their peers with medium or low sustainability scores. So we can assume that being digitally-innate, coupled with sustainability, helps organisations to perform much better than their counterparts in the long run.”

Real-world disruptions

It was an ironic statement, given that SAP’s “event of the year”, SAPPHIRE Now 2020, last Monday via a virtual telecast, where Saueressig was reportedly speaking, got off to an embarrassing start.

Some visitors couldn’t access the site and were directed to other platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn. The company subsequently “profoundly apologised” for the minor real-world disruption.

Saueressig, who is also globally responsible for SAP Product Engineering, which includes all business applications, noted that disruption – in both positive and negative forms – is happening at an unprecedented pace, necessitating enterprises to adapt in order to survive.

Consequently, this means all decision-makers in all sectors must strike the right balance between short-term action and long-term sustainable planning; between managing uncertainty and providing confidence; between resiliency and agility.

“Indeed, agility leads to resiliency and survival; it’s all about agility, the capability to adapt to changing environments. Agility is required in all functions – in engineering, supply chains, production, and manufacturing – but also business models and customer relationships.”

Carbon footprints

As such, he highlighted, ‘intelligent enterprises’ must turn insights into action. “The action is clear: reduce the carbon footprint. After all, the carbon footprint of products accumulates along the value chain. Together along with our 440,000 customers, we are poised to make a difference. As the market leader in enterprise software, we touch 77% of the world’s transactions.”

“We deliver end-to-end business processes to our customers,” he claimed, adding that SAP has always been known for optimising the top line and the bottom line of its customers.

Detailing the company’s contribution to sustainability, he continued: “We at SAP are at the unique position to add a third dimension of success – the ‘green’ line. We will embed sustainability as a new dimension of success into analytical and transactional applications, to enable an intelligent enterprise to minimise CO2 emissions across the entire value chain.”

According to Saueressig, the Climate 21 initiative encompasses much of SAP’s portfolio, featuring SAP product carbon footprint analytics.

“Climate 21 is the embodiment of the intelligent enterprise because it spans across the end-to-end business processes throughout our entire portfolio. With our intelligence suite, we are doubling down on our promise of integrated end-to-end process innovation. Innovation enables integration. Our roadmap focuses on business value; on integrated business processes.”

Embedding sustainability

Moving on to a use case example, Andreas Klein, Geschäftsführer (CEO) of Döhler GmbH, a global provider of natural ingredients and integrated solutions for the F&B industry, claimed SAP was the sole provider of end-to-end digital platforms capable of sustainably handling the company’s complex requirements in terms of its product lines and customers.

“We are sustainable by nature; it’s part of our DNA. Honestly, I don’t know how you could do it differently other than in an embedded solution. Implementation was super-easy, as we had all the prerequisites – we run on S4 HANA, we have the Analytics Cloud, so it was pretty much plug-and-play,” Klein explained.

Saueressig pointed out that while SAP has always supported end-to-end business processes horizontally, one of the company’s key differentiation has been its active involvement in the vertical dimension across the planet.

On the business level, he said, “We have been serving 25 industries for multiple decades – industries that are experiencing radical disruptions to their core business models. Digital transformation led to the elimination of traditional constraints and transformed the rules of competition.”

Moving forward

During his online conversations later with regional media, Saueressig stressed that the company had transformed its development approach to include quarterly reviews to track the development and impact of carbon emission analytics solutions to accelerate progress and to emphasise transparency.

According to Saueressig, customers are reacting extremely positively and joining together in what he called a ‘co-innovation model’ to define an inclusive sustainability approach kickstarting with 15 customers.

Saueressig further added that response from all countries demonstrated positive momentum. “Certain countries are by nature more enthusiastic, but everywhere there is a common understanding that we need to work along these lines in these days.”

Given the global network embracing both industry and government sectors, SAP intends to play its part; he added: “Sustainability is dear to our hearts and we are committed in the fight against climate change. We cannot wait any longer. We are in a sweet spot –  and together with our customers, we will help drive sustainability into the future.”

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