Martin LaMonica at Green Tech interviews Peter Graf, Chief Sustainability Officer of SAP. Some very insightful observations from Graf’s bird’s eye view of the industry.
Q: A lot of companies don’t have regulations that force them to lower their carbon footprint or make efficient use of natural resources. So what’s the pitch to them for your software?
Graf: The pitch has been evolved through observation after about 100 customer interactions so far. I usually divide people into three categories….The first category are people who ignore the topic as long as they can. The other part, which is about 45 percent, is who I call the opportunistic guys. The third group are the ones that go about this strategically–I always mention Nike, Coca-Cola, or Nestle.
So what’s the business case for managing natural resources?
Graf: Right now, it’s all about mitigating risk from volatile prices.
What’s the difference between a strategic and tactical approach to environmental sustainability?
Graf: Tactical is defined as partnering to develop some point solutions, helping people comply with regulations–more the reactive stuff. (SAP boughtcarbon accounting software company Clear Standards last May.) When sustainability is part of corporate strategy, you want to have visibility into the business at a level that is much higher than you need to just comply with regulations. You want an ability to manage a performance, report, and predict outcomes. You need to understand the operational elements, extract information, and give people insight and then take action.