Tag: sustainability

SAP Startup Focus in newly industrialised countries

Vishal Sikka, SAP CTO

As we have said before here, sustainability job number one is putting bread on the table. To that end, it was great to see SAP’s Startup Focus program take off so well, gaining over 1,000 companies signed up in less than two years.

We profiled the Startup Focus program on GreenMonk earlier this year, talking to three of the participant companies about it. They were very enthusiastic about how it had helped them break into the enterprise software market, and said they wished they’d joined the program sooner.

 

More recently, we spotted news from TechEd Bangalore that SAP CTO Vishal Sikka announced there that of the over 1,000 companies who have joined the Startup Focus program, 158 of the come from India. I’d love to know what percentage of the Startup Focus companies overall come from newly industrialised countries, and what level of employment they are helping create.

(Cross-posted @ GreenMonk: the blog)

Ariba’s AribaLive conference reviewed

AribaLive 2013

I attended the AribaLive event in Berlin last week – this is the European conference for Ariba customers and partners to share stories, network and learn from one another.

Ariba is a company which provides electronic sales and procurement solutions for companies. There are over 1 million companies in 190 countries using Ariba. Customer companies mentioned or presenting included Clariant, Solvay, Disney, Deutsche Bank, Astra Zeneca, Fujitsu, Aviva and EADS. Naturally I was curious to hear how their customers fared from dematerialising parts of their buying and selling processes.

I wasn’t totally clear on some of the advantages the Ariba offers buyers and sellers until Ariba President Kevin Costello, in his keynote explained it with a good analogy to the likes of Facebook, Amazon and eBay. As Costello said, Facebook has completely changed how people connect/reconnect. Similarly, eBay and Amazon have totally transformed how people shop for goods. I knew exactly what he meant as I’ve recently bought a new camera. I started by checking camera review sites and Amazon reviews to find the best camera for my needs. I then went to both eBay and Amazon to identify the best deal, from the most reputable seller. Being able to see peer reviews not just of the camera, but of the sellers as well, meant I was very confident when I decided to buy my secondhand camera, that I would get a good product at a good price.

In the same way, Costello said, the Ariba Network brings huge transparency to enterprise buyers and sellers, allowing them to make purchasing, or sales decisions more efficiently and with fewer concerns. In fact, the consumerisation of business commerce was a term used throughout the event.

Several customer presentations followed with organisations like Spanish building company FCC mentioning that they both source €2 billion, and cut 80,000 electronic invoices with their Ariba system annually. They estimate they are saving 10% per annum by using Ariba.

Apart from the efficiencies of using electronic solutions, how else does one benefit (to the tune of 10%, for example) by using Ariba?

invoice

Well part of the answer was provided in the talk given by EADS Vice President of Accounts Payable, Bob McCartney. He talked about the cost of dealing with incoming invoices for EADS. According to McCartney, dealing with an invoice manually costs EADS €15, running it through OCR brings the price down to €4 per invoice, while the price of dealing with e-invoices is €2. That is massive – electronic invoicing is half the cost of OCR’d invoices and seven and a half times cheaper than manual invoices. Right there you see a huge business case for e-invoicing.

Other advantages of electronic invoicing outlined by McCartney were – a recurring 22% cost saving, increasing on-time payment of suppliers, improved visibility/forecasting of the company’s cash position, and improved relations with suppliers (more process transparency, as well as on-time payments).

Finally, Ariba’s Supplier Risk Management solution was interesting to learn about as well. This solution allows users to, for example, figure out in the event of a natural disaster in a distant part of the world, what the potential impact may on your organisations supply chain. Though a more interesting use case, given it can drill down several layers into your supply chain may be avoiding the use of conflict minerals in your products, for example.

Full disclosure – Ariba paid my travel and accommodation to attend this event.

 

(Cross-posted @ GreenMonk: the blog)

Why are Salesforce hiding the emissions of their cloud?

Salesforce incorrect carbon data
The lack of transparency from Cloud computing providers is something we have discussed many times on this blog – today we thought we’d highlight an example.

Salesforce dedicates a significant portion of its site to Sustainability and on “Using cloud computing to benefit our environment”. They even have nice calculators and graphs of how Green they are. This all sounds very promising, especially the part where they mention that you can “Reduce your IT emissions by 95%”, so where is the data to back up these claims? Unfortunately, the data is either inaccurate or missing altogether.

For example, Salesforce’s carbon calculator (screen shot above) tells us that if an organisation based in Europe moves its existing IT platform (with 10,000+ users) to the Salesforce cloud, it will reduce its carbon emissions by 87%.

This is highly suspect. Salesforce’s data centers are in the US (over 42% of electricity generated in the US comes from coal) and Singapore where all but 2.6% of electricity comes from petroleum and natural gas [PDF].

On the other hand, if an organisation’s on premise IT platform in Europe is based in France, it is powered roughly 80% by nuclear power which has a very low carbon footprint. If it is based in Spain, Spain generates almost 40% of its power from renewables [PDF]. Any move from there to Salesforce cloud will almost certainly lead to a significant increase in carbon emissions, not a reduction, and certainly not a reduction of 87% as Salesforce’s calculator claims above.

Salesforce incorrect carbon data

Salesforce also has a Daily Carbon Savings page. Where to start?

To begin with, the first time we took a screen shot of this page was on October 1st for slide 26 of this slide deck. The screen shot on the right was taken this morning. As you can see, the “Daily Carbon Savings” data hasn’t updated a single day in the meantime. It is now over two months out-of-date. But that’s probably just because of a glitch which is far down Salesforce’s bug list.

The bigger issue here is that Salesforce is reporting on carbon savings, not on its carbon emissions. Why? We’ve already seen (above) that their calculations around carbon savings are shaky, at best. Why are they not reporting the much more useful metric of carbon emissions? Is it because their calculations of emissions are equally shaky? Or, is it that Salesforce are ashamed of the amount of carbon they are emitting given they have sited their data centers in carbon intensive areas?

We won’t know the answer to these questions until Salesforce finally do start reporting the carbon emissions of its cloud infrastructure. In a meaningful way.

Is that likely to happen? Yes, absolutely.

When? That’s up to Salesforce. They can choose to be a leader in this space, or they can choose to continue to hide behind data obfuscation until they are forced by either regulation, or competitive pressure to publish their emissions.

If we were Salesforce, we’d be looking to lead.

Image credits Tom Raftery

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(Cross-posted @ GreenMonk: the blog)

Sustainability, social media and big data

The term Big Data is becoming the buzz word du jour in IT these days popping up everywhere, but with good reason – more and more data is being collected, curated and analysed today, than ever before.

Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter announced last week that Twitter is now publishing 500 million tweets per day. Not alone is Twitter publishing them though, it is organising them and storing them in perpetuity. That’s a lot of storage, and 500 million tweets per day (and rising) is big data, no doubt.

And Facebook similarly announced that 2.5 billion content items are shared per day on its platform, and it records 2.7 billion Likes per day. Now that’s big data.

But for really big data, it is hard to beat the fact that CERN’s Large Hadron Collider creates 1 petabyte of information every second!

And this has what to do with Sustainability, I hear you ask.

Well, it is all about the information you can extract from that data – and there are some fascinating use cases starting to emerge.

A study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene found that Twitter was as accurate as official sources in tracking the cholera epidemic in Haiti in the wake of the deadly earthquake there. The big difference between Twitter as a predictor of this epidemic and the official sources is that Twitter was 2 weeks faster at predicting it. There’s a lot of good that can be done in crisis situations with a two week head start.

Another fascinating use case I came across is using social media as an early predictor of faults in automobiles. A social media monitoring tool developed by Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business can provide car makers with an efficient way to discover and classify vehicle defects. Again, although at early stages of development yet, it shows promising results, and anything which can improve the safety of automobiles can have a very large impact (no pun!).

GE's Grid IQ Insight social media monitoring tool

GE have come up with another fascinating way to mine big data for good. Their Grid IQ Insight tool, slated for release next year, can mine social media for mentions of electrical outages. When those posts are geotagged (as many social media posts now are), utilities using Grid IQ Insight can get an early notification of an outage in its area. Clusters of mentions can help with confirmation and localisation. Photos or videos added of trees down, or (as in this photo) of a fire in a substation can help the utility decide which personnel and equipment to add to the truckroll to repair the fault. Speeding up the repair process and getting customers back on a working electricity grid once again can be critical in an age where so many of our devices rely on electricity to operate.

Finally, many companies are now using products like Radian6 (now re-branded as Salesforce Marketing Cloud) to actively monitor social media for mentions of their brand, so they can respond in a timely manner. Gatorade in the video above is one good example. So too are Dell. Dell have a Social Media Listening Command Centre which is staffed by 70 employees who listen for and respond to mentions of Dell products 24 hours a day in 11 languages (English, plus Japanese, Chinese, Portugese, Spanish, French, German, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, and Korean). The sustainability angle of this story is that Dell took their learnings from setting up this command centre and used them to help the American Red Cross set up a similar command centre. Dell also contributed funding and equipment to help get his off the ground.

No doubt the Command Centre is proving itself invaluable to the American Red Cross this week mining big data to help people in need in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

(Cross-posted @ GreenMonk: the blog)

CloudApps releases their employee engagement app Sumo

CloudApps SuMo
CloudApps recently released SuMo, their sustainability employee engagement app. The name SuMo comes from the words Sustainability Momentum we’re told, and this is because SuMo was designed to maintain the momentum of an organisation’s sustainability initiative. GreenMonk was given a demo account on SuMo so we could take it for a test drive, and it is a cool little app.

CloudApps sell a suite of sustainability software products for organisations. Their applications sit on top of Salesforce’s Force.com cloud platform, which allows CloudApps to focus on writing the software, and not have to be concerned with maintaining the server infrastructure which runs their programs.

CloudApps solutions already have quite comprehensive capabilities, so it was interesting to see them come out with this employee engagement module.

Pledging a challenge in CloudApps SuMo

The SuMo application works well on mobile devices and it is designed to foster interest and ongoing enthusiasm for sustainability initiatives amongst an organisation’s workforce. It does this by allowing employees to pledge to participate in a number of challenges supplied by the organisation. These challenges are categorised, ranked for difficulty and assigned points.

As employees carry out these challenges (anything from switching from short haul flights, to teleconferencing for their next meeting, to volunteering at a local charity event), they are assigned points and badges, which determines their position on the Leader Board.

Because SuMo sits on Force.com, it can take in data from an organisation’s ERP applications, as well as reporting them back. So initiatives undertaken by employees in SuMo can be reported directly into its back-end systems and the savings accounted for.

CloudApps SuMo adding an idea screen

Also, a nice touch in SuMo is the ability for employees to add new ideas to the site. These ideas can be voted on by colleagues, commented on and favourited. It’s nice to see a bit of social working its way into these kinds of enterprise apps. This will certainly help the app be more engaging and sticky for users. This is something whose importance shouldn’t be underestimated for industries with issues around recruitment and retention.

The user interface has a few little quirks (it is not always as intuitive as it could be), and the app needs to become more social (include Share on Twitter, Share on Facebook, etc. buttons) buttons, but presumably that will all come with time. For a version 1.0 app though this is a creditable effort.

Image credits Tom Raftery

(Cross-posted @ GreenMonk: the blog)

(Cross-posted @ GreenMonk: the blog)

Logica’s Sustainability Analyst briefing

Logica's Annual Report cover
Logica held a Sustainability Analysts day in London recently and they invited me to attend.

Pictured above is the cover of Logica’s 2011 Annual Report [PDF] – their Annual Report mind, not their Sustainability Report [PDF]. And yet the title of Logica’s Annual Report is Shaping a Sustainable Future. This is a good indicator of Logica’s proactive stance on Sustainability.

The half-day briefing was a mix of Logica staff talking about the company’s Sustainability products and services, as well as a couple of customers (Carbon Disclosure Project and National Centre for Earth Observation) discussing the value they get from their relationship with Logica. While it was nice having a couple of customers presenting at the event, the fact that neither of these customers are commercial enterprises, per se, could lead one to wonder whether Sustainability is lower on the agenda of traditional enterprise.

Having said that, Logica’s Tony Rooke had a slide with a long list of commercial customers for Logica’s sustainability services. Interestingly these were typically infrastructure companies like utilities, Airwave and Network Rail.

The Logica led sessions were around what Logica is calling Smart Utilities, Sustainable Mobility and also Logica’s Engagement Carbon Calculator.

In the Smart Utilities space, Logica’s Rich Hampshire talked about Logica’s three-pronged strategy (security of supply, affordability, and decarbonising energy). Logica have a Smart as a Service offering here for utilities, and Logica have traditionally been very strong in this sector.

In the burgeoning Sustainable Mobility field, Logica’s Theo Quick talked about a 10,000 point electric car charging network that Logica are rolling out in the Netherlands with eLaad.nl. This was rolled out using …

SAP’s Sustainability announcements at Sapphire Now


SAP co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe at Sapphire Now 2012

SAP co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe at Sapphire Now 2012

Technology innovation plays a major part in creating a sustainable world tomorrow

So said SAP co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe at this year’s SAP Sapphire Now conference in Orlando. He then went on to predict three major trends in computing for the coming years – according to Jim, in the next five years everything will move to Cloud, everything will be in main memory and everything will be mobile.

This wasn’t just some off-the-cuff remark – these three developments are core to SAP’s product roadmap – even in the Sustainability space.

In the mobile space for example, at Sapphire Now SAP announced a new version of a mobile app for incident management. With this app, workers can now log issues from their mobile device with a photo or video, as well as an audio recording, and send it directly to an incident or safety manager for corrective action. This crowd-sourcing of safety information also has built-in tracking of the reported incident which is hugely empowering for workers who may previously have felt their voice wasn’t heard. And for the companies deploying this solution it leads to a safer work environment and a happier workforce.

This puts me in mind of an initiative IBM rolled out with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) where they enabled students, teachers and staff to report issues like water leaks, broken aircon/heating, exposed cables and so on, by sending text messages and photos through their mobile phones. More please.

Also in the mobile sustainability space, SAP have their Electronic Medical Record app [SilverLight warning] – an app which gives doctors instant access to a patient’s electronic medical records.

In the Cloud space, SAP have made two major recent acquisitions – Successfactors and more recently Ariba at a cost of roughly $7.7bn. This is a clear indicator that while SAP maybe late to the party, it is serious about catching up…

Can IBM continue to support blatant sexual discrimination?

Ginni Rometty, CEO, IBM
I’ve always admired IBM’s achievements in the diversity and equality arena.

Some of their milestones down through the years include:

  • In 1914, 76 years before the US Disabilities Act, IBM hired its first disabled employee.
  • In 1942 IBM launched a disabled employee training program.
  • In 1943 Ruth Leach Amonette was elected IBM’s first female Vice President.
  • In 1946 IBM hired T.J. Laster, their first black sales representative, 18 years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • In 1953 IBM chairman Thomas Watson issued the company’s first Equal Opportunity Policy letter.
  • And in 2011, IBM announced that Ginni Rometty would take over as President and CEO – the first female CEO in the history of the company.

Consequently, I was stunned to read at the weekend that IBM’s CEO was snubbed by the organisers of the US Open at Augusta simply because she is a woman, and despite this IBM continued to sponsor the event!

A bit of background – the Augusta National Golf Club is a private club, so it can set its own rules. Its rules have been notoriously discriminatory through the years – it didn’t admit black members until 1990, until recently it had a policy requiring all caddies to be black, and it continues to refuse women membership.

The fact that it refuses to allow female membership is now sharply in focus because the club has traditionally invited the CEO’s of the main sponsors of the US Masters to become members. By the end of this year’s tournament, despite IBM’s significant sponsorship, Ms Rometty had not been invited to become a member, because of her gender.

Now Ms Rometty is reportedly not a frequent golfer, so while it may not be a devastating blow to her game, it is a slap in the face that she wasn’t asked to be a member when her predecessors at IBM were. As were the CEO’s of the two other Masters sponsors (AT&T and Exxon Mobil).

IBM’s involvement with the event goes back many years and they are tied into it deeply not just financially but also at a technological level. According to Bloomberg

IBM is featured in the tournament’s TV commercials and runs its website, mobile-phone applications and media-center technology. Palmisano serves on Augusta’s technology tournament committee. He remains IBM’s chairman — a role Rometty is likely also to assume upon his retirement

Augusta may need IBM more than IBM needs the Masters…

SAP’s 2011 Sustainability Report

SAP 2011 Sustainability Report
SAP launched its 2011 Sustainability Report this week and in terms of aesthetics and social sharing, this is one of the best Sustainability Reports I have seen to-date.

The site contains many videos with SAP staff – including one from co-CEO’s Jim Hagemann Snabe & Bill McDermott which is featured prominently on the home page. Interestingly there are also several customer reference videos as well with the customers vouching for how SAP have helped them become more sustainable.

There are also many blog posts and interesting stories from SAP employees talking about everything from Materiality, through to Electric Vehicles.

There is a whole section in the report dedicated to how SAP Empowers its customers. It includes customer video testimonials, white papers and some very impressive top line figures for savings (“5.7 million tons of estimated carbon reductions, saving $550 million in energy costs”). However the methodology for producing these data is not gone into in any detail in this section. I contacted SAP to voice my concerns about this and they assured me that in the next couple of weeks the report will be updated to include the methodologies, and the story around producing this innovative section of the report.

SAP's progress on sustainability

As you’d expect from SAP, there’s also a lot of data in the report on how they are doing on their journey to sustainability and it’s mostly positive results. Almost all of their numbers are headed in the right direction. Unfortunately the exceptions to this are in the environmental area with increases in Data Centre Energy, Total Energy consumed and SAP’s Greenhouse Gas Footprint.

On the data centre energy front, the energy increase is both in real terms, and in kWh per employee. This is likely due to SAP increasingly hosting customers data and applications through their cloud offerings. What might be interesting here would be to see a kWh per cloud customer metric, or similar. Also, one would suspect that there should be a net reduction in energy consumption for that application, if it is replacing a customer’s pre-existing on-premises application. There could be some interesting data to mine there around energy wins.

On the Total Energy Consumed page you see that energy consumption has increased from 843GWh in 2010 to 860GWh in 2011. In the report it attributes this to growth in the business (SAP bought SucessFactors during this period) but the lack of a kWh per Employee metric on this page makes this hard to verify.

On the Greenhouse Gas page, we again see an increase in emissions from the 453kTons 2010 figure to 490kTons in 2011. On this page, it is possible to see a By Employee figure and here too we see an increase in emissions from 8.7 tons per employee in 2010 to 9.0 tons in 2011. However, when we look at the emissions by € revenue, we see a fall, from 36.3g/€ in 2010 to 34.4g/€ in 2011. 2011 was a good year for SAP, from a revenue perspective, it would appear…

IBM based mobile, crowdsourced-reporting application helps schools speed up repairs

Leaking tap
Attending IBM’s Pulse 2012 event this year I was again struck by how much IBM’s Maximo is used in maintenance management applications.

And why do we care about that I hear you say?

Well, keeping machinery properly maintained, and alerting if machines go out of tolerance for certain parameters (energy consumption spikes in refrigeration plant, fuel or oil consumption in engines, even the presence (or absence) or certain chemicals, etc.) is often an early sign that that machine/system is faulty. Sometimes this fault can result in extra consumption of a resource, other times it can be a safety issue. In any case the measurement and alerting can can kick off a pro-active maintenance ticket which may otherwise have been missed.

Correct scheduling of servicing for a lot of machinery is a sustainability win too. If machines are not serviced according to the manufacturers schedule, consumption tends to increase, but properly maintained they are safer, and consume typically less.

I came across an interesting example of this recently with IBM’s announcement of a project to make the US’s 2nd largest school district one of its greenest and most sustainable.

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has 700,000 students, 14,000 buildings spread over 710 square miles in California. It receives more than 300,000 maintenance service requests per year.

How are IBM going to improve it?

They are allowing students, teachers and staff to report issues like water leaks, broken aircon/heating, exposed cables and so on, by sending text messages and photos through their mobile phones. One receipt of the text…