SAP’s Peter Graf Responds to Your Sustainability Questions

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Last month we invited you to submit your own questions to Peter Graf, the chief sustainability officer of business management software company SAP, as a follow-on to his interview with Editor-in-chief Michael S. Hopkins. We sorted through your queries and Graf’s responses, and include a selection of these below.

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When did SAP begin to address the sustainability issue?

We’ve always taken a proactive approach — we’re really all about helping companies run more efficiently, which is a pillar of sustainable practices. In particular, we have supplied software to help companies manage compliance for environment health & safety  (EHS) for more than fifteen years. We became much more serious about sustainability about three years ago, when we started receiving requests from some of the industries we serve for improvements to our applications designed to manage product safety (for instance, REACH for chemicals and ROHS for high tech), traceability (especially for the food industry), environmental tracking and reporting, and energy management, both in manufacturing and facilities.

We recognized that there was a big opportunity that was not being adequately met in the market, so we organized an internal study a little over two years ago. We developed a list of the opportunities, talked to over a hundred customers and partners to get their views, and then presented the findings to our executive board. They accepted our recommendations with one exception – they wanted us to move even faster!

Why did SAP begin to address sustainability issues?

Our customers were asking for our own position, so we needed to take action. In addition, and even more significant, we had customers who required us to provide a sustainability policy, and evidence that we were not only a sustainable supplier, but had goals to improve our position. If we could not provide this information we would not be an approved supplier! We knew then that we had to take a more organized approach to sustainability.

And of course, we also realized we could help companies address their own sustainability goals. The closer we looked, the more we saw that the business processes needed were an extension of our customers’ existing investment in IT and especially their investment in SAP.


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Comments (2)
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Deepak Mandrekar
SAP has done an incredible job with the EH&S module in addressing sustainability. The solutions such as Product Safety, Dangerous Goods Management, Substance Volume Tracking, etc have been remarkable in serving as a backbone to meet ReACh regulations, RoHS, SARA, OSHA, CTRK, etc and other state, local and federal regulations. Together with cloud computing SAP solution will be revolutionary offering to track hazardous substances at plants and at locations of third party suppliers and vendors.