Tag: sustainability

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…

SAP starts highlighting sustainability customer success stories

I had a great chat with SAP’s Jeremiah Stone (Senior Director, Sustainability Solution Management) while we were at Sapphire Now in May. Craig Cmehil was good enough to video it for us, so here we are talking about SAP’s Sustainability solutions and SAP’s move to letting its customers recount their sustainability success stories.

Here is the transcription of our conversation:

Tom Raftery: Hey everyone; we’re at SAPPHIRE NOW. I’m Tom Raftery, and, with me, I have Jeremiah Stone from SAP. Jeremiah, can you tell us, first of all, what’s your role at SAP?

Jeremiah Stone: Hi Tom! Thanks for having me, I’m glad to be here on GreenMonk. I’m part of the Solution Management Organization within SAP for Sustainability. So, we’re really responsible for the roadmap and investment in our products and working with our customers to understand what their needs are and making sure that we have the right products to meet those needs.

Tom Raftery: Okay. Just before we get in to the whole SAPPHIRE NOW thing and what’s been happening here, what are the, products that you guys have around sustainability?

Jeremiah Stone: We have a wide range and it’s a good question, because sustainability means all things to all people and, I think, Vinnie Mirchandani said, “Don’t talk about religion, don’t talk about politics, and now don’t talk about sustainability, because it’s such a hot topic.”

SAP defines sustainability as products that help our customers’ businesses succeed not only in the traditional sense of what we always do to the profitable business, but also how to stay in business for the long-run. So, in a world with changing resource situations with volatility around natural resources, needs to curb pollution, be able to grow a workforce, be able to have more sustainable products, we build products that help customers have better run businesses.

So very concretely, software that helps you have a safer business, identify risk and have improvements in people, not getting hurt, which is a nice way to have a longer-term business – you’re not hurting your employees, you make that a box.

So, we have product compliance solutions to help people design and take better products to the market that have less toxicity in them, for example. One of my favorite example there is Molex that makes little connectors in computers. They were able to remove halogens from those connectors so they have a less toxic product then.

In the long-run where you have an end of life because it has no use in your home and it is off gas or that sort of gas. We make products for energy and environmental resource management. So, really how to cut your energy use and emit less. We have solutions focused on sustainable workforce. How do you engage your employees that are on the top for sustainability? Then also in a long-term have the long-term workforce. That’s really the analytics layer and how do you make the decisions on the basis of your business data. So, we have products in each of these categories.

Tom Raftery: Awesome, and, I’ve been at a couple of Sapphires at this point. In the last couple of Sapphires there was a lot of talk from the CEO’s on downwards about sustainability. This year less so. There seems to be a shift in focus. Can you talk a bit about that?

SAP’s 2010 Sustainability Report demo’d

I had a Skype chat recently with SAP’s Chief Sustainability Officer Peter Graf where he gave me a demo of their new 2010 Sustainability report.

With Peter’s permission, I recorded the demo for publication on YouTube. The video above is the result and the transcription is below.

Some highlights Peter mentioned include:

  1. Sustainability reporting has saved SAP €170 million (!),
  2. SAP are updating their Sustainability report quarterly and are embedding it more and more closely with their financial reporting and,
  3. SAP have deep social media embedding in their report

With this report, SAP have put clear blue water between themselves and any other sustainability report. SAP can still take it up another few notches (productising it, putting an api in front of it, publishing in xbrl, etc) but this is the kind of reporting everyone needs to be moving to, as a baseline. Kudos to SAP for once again setting the bar with this report.

Now here’s the transcription of the demo:

Tom Raftery: Hi, everyone. Welcome to GreekMonk TV. We are talking today to SAP’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Peter Graf, who is going to give us a quick demo of the new 2010 SAP Sustainability Report.

Peter Graf: So, this is SAP’s 2010 Sustainability Report, which people can find online at sapsustainabilityreport.com. The report lays out the three key areas of impact for SAP. In the first place, SAP wants to become a more sustainable company, so we are talking about our own sustainability performance. The second section of the report is about how SAP helps customers to run more profitably and sustainably, so that’s mostly a conversation about our applications and software solutions.

And then finally, there is a section on how people at SAP drive opportunity for others through IT. And then, certainly the last part, as always when we put our report on the line is that encouraging into action and dialog between us and those who come and visit the report. And we call that section Do Your Part and that describes how everyone can contribute.

Tom Raftery: Great. Can you show me some of the details of how SAP have done in the last year? How does it look onscreen, because it’s very different from any other sustainability report that’s out there?

Peter Graf: Exactly. So before we go there, the data that we talk about is all assured by KPMG, and there are two levels of assurance and yes, this report is A+ from GRI perspective. It’s got the best rating that you can get from GRI. It complies with a whole variety of standards, but most importantly, we have not only done limited assurance to our greenhouse gas numbers, we’ve actually gone for reasonable assurance, meaning the assurance company actually assures that this is really our footprint. And we do that because we believe in the future there will be much more scrutiny around how people are reporting greenhouse gas emissions.

And that’s what the greenhouse gas emissions look like. You can see the trend from 2000 to 2007; we’ve always increased our emissions. In 2007, we set ourselves the goal to reduce our emissions step-by-step back to the level of 2000 by the year 2020, so we have an absolute carbon target. That is pretty aggressive considering that in 2000, we had about 24,000 employees and already today in 2011, we have more than 50,000 employees and we want to obviously continue to grow as a company.

You can also see that we have kind of flipped the chart to kind of visually highlight that emissions are seen as a liability to SAP so they show below the line.

Tom Raftery: And clicking on any of those bars redraws the kind of pie chart on the right?

Peter Graf: Exactly, so you can go and drill into the different years and you can see how the emissions change. For example in 2008, we had 31% of our emissions from flights that also tells you that we include Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions in our calculation.

That number dropped dramatically in 2009, given that in the times of economic crisis, we just don’t service as many customers, so you can see that here. And then in 2010, the number continues in absolute terms to be reduced, which is amazing given that we have actually increased our revenues by 17% in 2010 while reducing our emissions. You can see that very nicely when you look at the carbon emissions on a Euro basis. We are now at 33.9 grams per Euro revenue and in 2008, that number was 45.6 grams.

So, in terms of carbon efficiency we have dramatically accelerated and you can drill into different areas. For example, revenue in the Americas, you can actually go and look at different scopes and include or exclude them in the competition. So that’s the benefit of having this kind of interactivity.

Tom Raftery: The obvious question that comes to mind then is, if you are spending all this money on getting carbon out of your system, out of your organization, it must be costing the company a small fortune…

Have HP’s senior executives lost interest in Sustainability?

Bottled water at the HP Summit
I attended a HP analyst summit last week in San Francisco and I have been putting off writing down my impressions of the event because I was, frankly, very disappointed.

Writing recently about HP’s announcement of their new Energy and Sustainability Solution, I noted that HP’s new CEO Léo Apotheker’s legacy from his time at SAP, is SAP’s deep commitment to sustainability. And I went on to speculate that it looks like he is bringing his sustainability stamp to HP as well. Sadly, I set myself up for a bit of a fall!

Jeff Katzenberg speaking at the HP Summit

Jeff Katzenberg – HP Summit

The first day of the two day event was a series of talks from HP execs, starting, after the introduction, with Léo’s Keynote. After that there was a series of exec talks on Cloud, Connectivity, Digitization and Security followed by guest speaker Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks over lunch. During this he screened the trailer for Kung Fu Panda 2, which looked great!

In the afternoon there were talks on HP Services, Go To Market and HP Labs followed by a brief break and then back for a Q&A with Léo and the rest of the execs.

I waited the entire day and the first mention of the word Sustainability was by Prith Banarjee, director of HP Labs in the final session where he made a brief reference to it. The funny thing was that that was when Prith became most passionate and enthusiastic!

Earlier in the day, in the talk on digitization, Vyomesh Joshi (aka VJ) did mention that 200bn pages are going digital annually but he then ruined it by talking about one HP printing station which is printing 80m pages a month (that’s a lot of dead trees!) but worse was when…