You wouldn't expect Oracle to leave one of the software industry's fastest growing sectors out of its strategic product mix, would you?
That's why Oracle's introduction of new environmental tracking and management solutions (based on its acquisition of intellectual property from Ndevr in February) is really more of a foregone conclusion rather than a surprise. After all, these applications have pretty much come out of nowhere to generate a growth rate of roughly 400 percent in 2010 (according to one analyst's figures); by 2013, some forecasts call for the category to generate $1 billion in sales. (All of these data points are referenced in my related links at the bottom of this story.)
So what exactly is Oracle releasing this week?
There are two applications, specifically: the Oracle Environmental Accounting and Reporting tool and the Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Environment Accounting and Reporting application. The modules are options for Oracle E-Business Suite Financials and JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Financial Management. They are focused on tracking carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions data that might be require for certain regulatory report. The software can also make it easier to generate specific reports for a number of the external reporting processes, including the Carbon Disclosure Project.
Not every company is tracking this sort of thing right now, of course, but more are doing so every month. The Oracle move suggests that environmental reporting will eventually be integrated directly into enterprise resource planning software platforms, especially as the concerns of sustainable resource management become more integrated into operations decisions.
Right now, the data related to this sort of thing is extremely spotty. For some companies, it is a once-a-year information collection exercise. The companies that choose to measure and manage it on an going basis will likely find themselves at a competitive advantage -- especially if its part of software that they already use.