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SAP plays up sustainability angle

SAP plays up sustainability angle

The company plans a big push for sustainability products for the upcoming year

Organizations seeking ways to conserve energy and profit from being green may find the true gains won’t come from "greening" their data centers, but rather by maximizing the efficiency of their supply chains, said Peter Graf, the chief sustainability officer for SAP.

“I find [green IT] a little bit exaggerated. Green IT is usually positioned as reducing the energy consumption of the data center,” Graf said, speaking at the National Retail Federation’s annual convention, being held this week in New York. Only an average of 2 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions are created from computers, he noted. "I'm not dismissing it, but the real opportunity is in logistics, production, in distribution and production."

The theme for the opening keynotes for the 99th annual NRF conference is sustainability, or the drive to improve profitability through greater efficiency. Matt Kistler, the vice president in charge of Wal-Mart's sustainability efforts, spoke at the show about the retail giant's own efforts in cutting inefficiencies, and Graf's own talk positioned SAP as being a “leading provider of solutions for sustainability.”

SAP released a sustainability performance management package in 2009 and plans to introduce some more sustainability-related supplemental software packages this year, Graf said.

All these packages are designed to give organizations reports on how efficient their business processes are and how much waste is being created in day-to-day operations.

Graf, who drives the company’s sustainability marketing effort, said the term "sustainability” is more suitable than the term “green” because it is more encompassing. Green may be just about saving energy and reducing waste. Sustainability balances this goal against keeping a business profitable.

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