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Knowledge management energizes green initiatives

SAP also offers software products that help companies avoid costly disruption to their supply chains. SAP Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Management helps companies comply with product safety regulations. "Many of the customers who opt for the environmental products are existing SAP customers," says Evan Welsh, global communications director at SAP. "They have used our ERP products and can easily integrate environmental compliance software into other aspects of their business, such as bills of materials."

Internal use

Companies not already using SAP can still use the energy reduction and sustainability reporting solutions, because those products do not need SAP running in the background. SAP Recycling Administration deals with packaging and electronic waste, helping companies meet reporting requirements and payment processes.

SAP also uses its suite of software products to manage its own sustainability initiatives, as well as to make use of other resources that minimize energy consumption. "We have documented hundreds of millions of euros in savings since 2008 using SAP sustainability products," Welsh says. "In addition, we are always on the lookout for other ways to mitigate energy use. Our biggest use of energy is in business travel, so we have 44 systems for telepresence, which we use extensively for internal meetings."

For manufacturers, the purchase of electricity and other forms of energy and shipping costs constitute the majority of energy usage. For those companies, efficiencies in manufacturing and in supply chain management, areas in which SAP also has offerings, contribute to sustainability.

Telework extends its reach

Telework in the federal government received a boost a year ago with the passage of PL-111-292 (the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010), which requires federal agencies to set up organizational structures in support of telework, including senior administrative positions and IT requirements for mobile technology. "Agencies are now seeing telework as a critical component of their operations," says Cindy Auten, general manager of the Telework Exchange, "and technology is paving the way."

The Telework Exchange is a public-private partnership that helps educate the workforce about the benefits and potential of telework. It also facilitates communication among telework stakeholders, including workers, managers and those who support the IT initiatives on which telework relies. A commuting cost calculator on the site provides information on the environmental benefits of telecommuting. "During Telework Week 2012, about 71,000 individuals saved approximately 3,400 tons of pollutants in one week by telecommuting for just two days," says Auten. "If this is extrapolated to the full year and a larger workforce, the impact could be tremendous."

Mobile technology is supportive of green initiatives in several respects. "In addition to reducing travel," says Samir Gulati, VP of marketing at Appian, "telework often relies on cloud technology, which reduces the amount of infrastructure and, therefore, energy consumption within an enterprise." Appian Cloud uses the Amazon infrastructure, and its Tempo mobile product includes an activity stream that provides a social context for business processes. For mobile workers, collaborative and social components will be critical to remaining connected to a geographically dispersed workforce.

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