Oracle took a step into the sustainability market this week announcing the introduction of a sustainability reporting starter kit which it is offering to customers already using Oracle Hyperion Financial Management as a free extension. The starter kit is certified under the Global Reporting Initiative software certification programme which means the standard KPIs for sustainability reporting come pre configured.
But the really interesting news with this announcement is the apparent emergence of the Chief Sustainability Officer role at Oracle in the name of Jon Chorley, a former Supply Chain Management solution VP. An integrated role at Oracle overseeing both solution offerings to the market as well as Oracle’s own performance would indicate a significant maturing at Oracle on strategic sustainability.
Oracle has been under pressure from the ratings agencies and has been on the receiving end of a hostile shareholder resolution – all demanding more transparency & accountability on sustainability performance. UK analyst firm Verdantix earlier this year noted:
Verdantix research finds that Oracle’s existing approach maintains a legacy CSR programme typified by philanthropic reporting, lack of board-level and outdated energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets. While its internal programme lacks direction, Oracle does offer ‘green IT’ software solutions. Verdantix analysis finds that announcements by its competitors, such as HP, IBM and SAP, place Oracle at a sustainability strategy crossroads.
Chris Mines from Forrester puts less stock in the need for technology companies to take an integrated approach - that is, to pursue a corporate sustainability strategy and at the same time be a leading sustainability solution provider:
...........it’s still a limited perspective, one that I characterize as the IT industry playing defence.............If big IT suppliers are in a defensive crouch regarding sustainability, they risk missing these new markets.
With rumours of a new sustainability report in the pipe, new investments in the sustainability solution portfolio and now the emergence of a Chief Sustainability Officer, it seems that Oracle is less inclined to follow the Forrester line. Instead it appears as if Oracle is taking sustainability rather more seriously than before - both as a corporate and customer innovation discipline. Over the longer run that should be good for Oracle, its customers, the industry and the planet.