SAP India bets big on sustainability

Software player identifies India as large consumer market with high energy consumption, as part of global efforts to generate market worth US$9.3 billion for its sustainability products, company execs reveals.
Written by Swati Prasad, Contributor

NEW DELHI--SAP has set sights on India as an important part of the German software vendor's global strategy to generate a sustainability business worth US$9.3 billion by 2013, according to company executives.

Pointing to India as a "very important market" for SAP, Peter Gartenberg, managing director of SAP Indian Continent, said during a press briefing here Thursday: "It is a large consumer market with high energy consumption [and] SAP can positively impact both the returns on investment and sustainability." Gartenberg was in town for the company's World Tour 2010.

SAP has heighted its focus on sustainability this year, which it defines as the holistic management of societal, environmental, as well as economic risks and opportunities for increased short- and long-term profitability.

"Sustainability has an essential business imperative as it helps companies drive profitability. However, it requires a collaborative corporate effort," said Peter Graf, SAP's chief sustainability officer and executive vice president of sustainability solutions.

In May this year, SAP inked an agreement with Wipro to provide a suite of offerings that integrate the software company's environmental, sustainability performance and energy management tools, including Carbon Impact and BusinessObjects Sustainability Performance Management, with Wipro's green IT consulting services. The new offerings are touted to help enterprise customers identify and reduce costs by adopting environment-friendly practices.

"Globally, we hope to generate businesses worth US$9.27 billion (7.3 billion euros) between 2009 and 2013, through our sustainability solutions like Carbon Impact, BusinessObjects Sustainability Performance Management," Graf said.

Gartenberg noted: "Sustainability should be at the heart of any organization that wants to secure long-term growth and success for itself and its customers. I believe the foundation of a sustainable economy is already ingrained in the Indian psyche and traditional business practices."

According to Graf, there are several misconceptions about sustainability. "It is often confused with green IT or [about] reducing the use of energy in data centers." However, he noted that only 2 percent of all carbon emissions can be traced to data centers. "The use of IT lies in addressing the remaining 98 percent of carbon emissions," he said.

A recent report by the Climate Group, with supporting independent analysis by McKinsey, found that infocomm technology can help reduce global carbon emissions five times larger than its own carbon footprint.

"Sustainability drives profitability," Graf said. "When we manage procurement, logistics, production, and so on, we impact the society, environment and economics. And that's the definition of sustainability. Today, sustainability is reshaping businesses."

He added that of SAP's 50,000 employees, 1,000 are dedicated to its sustainability business.

Local sustainability council
The SAP executives were also in town to inaugurate the company's local Sustainability Executive Advisory Council (SEAC), its first in South Asia. The council aims to bring together SAP customers in India and offer a platform for networking and sustainability knowledge-sharing. It also hopes to provide customers, peers, policy makers, thought leaders and experts with a framework to keep abreast of business strategies and the latest sustainability technology developments.

"In India, SEAC will provide an excellent vehicle to drive the sustainability agenda for businesses," Gartenberg said.

Swati Prasad is a freelance IT writer based in India.

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