“Anticipating the Puck”: Lessons from telco and hockey as SAS announces a solution to turn green strategies into a competitive advantage

In a panel discussion about innovation Tuesday at the Premier Business Leadership Series in London, the CEO of Telstra, Sol Trujillo, called upon business leaders to employ the “Wayne Gretzky" management technique. Instead of reacting to play occuring right now, move ahead to where you predict the puck will be and position yourself to receive the puck and score on the competition.

It’s hard to argue with the success that this technique brought Gretzky in his illustrious career – four Stanley cups, nine Hart Trophies as the most valuable player, and ten Art Ross Trophies for most points in a season. And Telstra, the largest telecommunications company in Australia, is in a transformative period under the direction of Mr. Trujillo as it moves from a state-owned monopoly to a competitive market. Telstra is anticipating the future and positioning themselves as the media and communications provider in Australia, with rapid expansion plans for Asia.

I heard this comment just a few hours before SAS launched a new business-focused solution: SAS for Sustainability Management. And as I studied the notes for our press panel where the launch announcement was made, I thought -- we’re anticipating the puck!

This is the first solution of its kind on the market today. With global sales and delivery teams, SAS is well-positioned to address specific sustainability initiatives for key industries and regions around the world.

Market analysts, the perennial bellwether of IT trends, have been beefing up their research agendas on the topic of corporate social responsibility, the “triple bottom line" and green IT. But no market sizing or magic quadrants exist today. That is due, in large part, to the lack of definitive global standards for measurement and management of carbon. While the standards evolve and converge, we have to anticipate how that landscape is evolving and offer a solution today that advances the needs and interests of our customers.

So how do we “own the puck" and deliver value for our customers? We will apply the best practices in sustainability decision-support that we have learned in partnership with Cisco, and here at SAS, to other leading organizations.

Leading up to this product launch, I had conversations with companies across the financial services, paper and packaging, hospitality, government, and high tech industries. I learned that many of them have recently initiated projects to determine what data is required (and available) to calculate their carbon footprint. Others are setting groundwork to adopt sustainability performance reporting, such as the Global Reporting Initiative.

So it’s the perfect time to tie sustainability initiatives together and converge on a single platform for operational intelligence. The only way we … or our customers … will know if we’re staying in front of our competition is by analyzing data, setting goals, measuring our progress toward those goals, and exploring what-if scenarios to help us determine where the greatest impact can be made.

In a recent interview with CNN, Trujillo reflected on the competitive nature of business today. “[Y]ou keep score by how you're growing [compared with] your competitors, how you're growing your revenues, [and] growing margins."? Now, organizations will be keeping score on environmental and social responsibility. In fact, Telstra just released a report entitled. “Towards a high-bandwidth, low-carbon future."

It is exciting for SAS to be in front of this wave. However, as we continue to develop and refine solutions that address sustainability management, we must keep Trujillo and Grezky in mind and anticipate the future challenges and opportunities that will be coming our way!

tags: carbon, green, green to gold, sustainability, telco, telecommunications

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