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At this year’s Sustainable Brands conference SAP showcased how it transforms the way it’s creating value for customers and employees to foster sustainable development. The conference in San Diego gathered over 2,000 members of a global network who focus on the opportunities brands have to initiate positive shifts in business and society. SAP presented how its software enables customers to enhance their sustainability management and how employees help SAP become a more sustainable company.

One of the highlights of the conference was keynote speaker and sustainable design thought leader William McDonough, who elaborated on how we can transform the way we do business by creating social and environmental value. The author of Cradle to Cradle and The Upcycle reminded the audience of what is possible and what is needed to bring about sustainable change. Companies must shift their focus from doing less harm to creating more value with less impact. Business planning is already shaped by resource scarcity and companies start leveraging big data to optimize water and energy use, optimizing supply chains, turning waste into valuable assets, and supporting healthy behavior change. To build business value in a changing world, corporations have to anticipate the expectations, risks and opportunities and design what’s next into what’s now. Through innovation and eco-efficiency companies can achieve endless resourcefulness. More corporations are recognizing that there is value and opportunity in transforming the way they operate. According to McDonough this resulted in a $9 billion sustainable consulting industry last year. Watch the his talk here: June 4th: Evening Plenary

Transforming businesses and entire industries across the globe requires radical innovation, constant improvement, and collaboration. SAP has recognized this and designed what’s next into what’s now: Thomas Odenwald, SVP of Energy and Resource Management Strategies, presented how sustainability innovation in the SAP Business Suite enables other companies to mange their processes and resources more effectively. Those solutions span across the entire value chain of a company. SAP software can support sustainable design and strategy, supply chain management, resource management, the circular economy, as well as integrated reporting. SAP HANA was discussed as one of the ‘13 Hot SustainableProducts To Follow in 2013’.

At the conference several customers and business partners gave examples of how SAP software helps them to become more sustainable and cost efficient.

Wood Turner from Stonyfield, for example, praised the SAP 'product footprinting' solution, which enables the company to track and calculate the actual amount of greenhouse gases produced throughout a product’s lifecycle for their entire product portfolio in real time.

Kara Hurst from The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) talked about the benefits of the ongoing collaboration with SAP. Supply chain management software can help TSC members, such as Walmart, to manage the complexity of global trade and monitor labor standards as well as resources within their supply networks. Excel sheets are no longer sufficient to manage and integrate the abundance of information.

Eric Olson from BSR, one of the largest sustainable business networks, discussed SAP’s important role in scaling up sustainable procurement processes.

Rachel Parikh, Director of Sustainability, spoke on an Employee Engagement panel about opportunities at SAP for employees and mangers to explore the topic of sustainability and respond to the opportunity it presents to SAP. One example is the SAP Leaders’ Quest, an experiential 3-day program, during which senior leaders visit innovative companies and social enterprises for discussion around the topic of innovation, sustainability and leadership and consider how they can apply their new insights to their own work at SAP. Rachel also shared a tool, which SAP developed for their stakeholder to see the connection between financial and non-financial performance indicators. The tool can be found in SAP’s online integrated report, which further demonstrates the company’s commitment to being a Sustainable Brand.

SAP was proud to be one of the main sponsors of the Sustainable Brands conference this year. The company was announced as a corporate member, is member of the advisory board and will be hosting the next meeting at its headquarters in Philadelphia. We are excited to see what will be coming next.