Scott Russell (SAP) on leadership and digital transformation: how to reconcile profits and sustainability?

As the COP26 establishes new thresholds for sustainability, SAP’s executive board member in charge of customer success, Scott Russell, discusses the transition toward a circular economy. Supported by digital solutions, he argues that bottom and green line can meet, so sustainable companies may prosper.

Posté le Monday, November 15th 2021
Scott Russell (SAP) on leadership and digital transformation: how to reconcile profits and sustainability?

Scott Russell, executive board member in charge of customer success at SAP

Leaders League: You assist thousands of companies across all twenty-five industries. Would you tell us what is at the top of their agenda? In terms of priorities, would you say sustainability supersedes digital transformation?

Scott Russell: In this new normal, digitization and sustainability are companies’ top priority. For the last fifty years, SAP partners have mastered factors of production, supply, distribution and customer service. All of which are underpinned by digital technology. These days, beyond revenue targets, businesses want to hold up their end on sustainability. Thus, sustainability and digital transformation have become interlinked. To be sustainable, companies must be digital.

Increasingly, consumers are engaging with companies according to their sustainability targets – and deliverables – on the issue. To stay relevant, companies must shift from a linear economy, which is producing over 91% waste through standard production, to a circular economy, replete with means that are able to reuse and minimize waste.

In partnership with SAP, Danone use KPIs to measure sustainability in their daily operation. Across their entire value chain, they employ levers to reduce outputs such as greenhouse gas emission or carbon footprint. Through digital solutions, such as our Sustainability Control Tower, companies are provided a clear view on economic stakes alongside sustainable ones.

Sustainability needs to be profitable. And profitable is sustainability. Underpinned by digital technology, they synergize

After enterprise resource planning, is SAP poised to conquer global resource planning? Are solutions like the Sustainability Control Tower meant for managers or the C-suite?

Much like in an airplane control tower, SAP’s Sustainability Control Tower offers a real-time visualization of a company’s parameters. Since it encompasses measures from production factors to the carbon footprint from travel, executives are provided critical data for immediate decisions. Alongside economic parameters, companies can quantify sustainable ones which, on account of their enhanced granularity, remain pertinent for production managers in assessing daily operations.

November 8th sees the launch of another product: SAP Responsible Design and Production. How does it complement the SAP sustainability line?

In the linear economy, waste goes into a landfill. Because so much of the waste generated can be impacted upon at the point of design, we created Responsible Design and Production (RDP) to enable access to such data during the design process. At the raw material level, a designer will have detailed understanding of a design’s cost, return on investment and sustainability impact – i.e. which and how much materials may be reused. At the scale of the company, RDP will measure top-line, bottom-line and identify levers to achieve a specific green line.

Along with internal parameters, we’ve built RDP in order to meet moving regulations, such as the ones recently agreed to at the COP26. By embedding global sustainability thresholds into their plans, businesses will be able to run their operations more smoothly worldwide.

A significant amount of waste generated can be impacted upon at the point of design

What type of company mindset singles SAP out? What are the values bolstering its leadership?

In running our business, we aim to remain empathetic, impactful and sustainable. More so than lagging indicators such as KPIs, leaders focus on inputs. It behooves them to seed ethics, integrity, empathy, so their employees and business may have a positive impact on the world.

Beyond individual skillsets, the best teams thrive on common belief. Leaders must foster an uplifting environment, in which employees feel valued for their contribution. To embrace an ethos of empathy, SAP launched the “The Pledge to Flex” initiative. In consistency with colleagues, our employees schedule their own work hours. Entrusted to make the best of this new normal, they have kept on connecting and our innovation has accelerated.

Sustainability is at the core of our values. For fourteen years, we have been rated the #1 software company with regards to it. Products, such as Sustainability Control Tower and RDP, are part and parcel of our endeavor to achieve more sustainable outcomes for the future.

On top of sustainability, I’m most passionate about generating customers’ lifetime value with SAP. Across the value chain, our software connects relevant processes to ensure the customer experience is fulfilled through the supply chain experience. Day to day, we are devising technology to meet the end-customer’s demands ever more closely. When our customers utilize our technology to the limit of its capabilities, that is when lifetime of value is boosted. To me, that is customer success.

Alexandra Bui