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Environmental Protection & Preservation

Using Information Technology to Manage Green and Social Responsibility Initiatives

Lawson Software today announced a new initiative to provide organizations and companies software-based options to help them manage their growing array of environmental and social programs. Lawson's Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative aims to harness information technology to automate and integrate the management of these programs to help companies meet their social and environmental targets, whether government-mandated or company-set.

The Global Reporting Initiative, a large network of experts in global citizenship issues, has identified more than 100 indicators of environmental, social and economic responsibility that organizations may be reporting on today, ranging from energy consumption, wildlife habitat protection and greenhouse gas emissions to workforce diversity, customer privacy complaints and political donations. Lawson's initiative is based on the premise that many companies recognize that the ability to track social and environmental performance is good business.

"In many cases, there's a clear bottom-line benefit to these corporate social responsibility programs - it's not just a feel-good exercise," said Lawson Vice President and program champion Jeff Frank. "However, a study by AMR Research shows that companies are not managing their corporate citizenship efforts in any kind of comprehensive way, and we believe Lawson is in a strong position to help."

Detailed research conducted by industry analyst firm AMR Research suggests companies are ready for an information technology solution to support corporate responsibility initiatives. According to the survey of 150 individuals in mid-size and large companies in Europe and North America, more than seven in 10 plan to use IT to manage corporate responsibility initiatives within the next two years.

The AMR Research study showed that environmental initiatives are currently driving most of respondents' corporate social responsibility spending today, with the most dollars focused on curbing carbon dioxide emissions, reducing energy consumption or improving equipment servicing and maintenance. "Less than a third of the respondents are using their ERP systems to help them manage these big challenges, yet because they are integrated and enterprise-wide, ERP systems can sensibly form the foundation for managing to environmental and social business objectives," said Nigel Montgomery, research director at AMR Research.

Lawson's initiative envisions an approach similar to the company's preconfigured solutions for specific industries. Lawson expects to package particular pre-configured Lawson applications and its Lawson Business Intelligence suite with implementation methodologies specific to high priority environmental or social programs. Lawson has mapped all its current products against the more than 100 indicators identified by the Global Reporting Initiative to identify opportunities for which Lawson Business Intelligence could support a company's corporate social responsibilities initiatives.

For example, Lawson Business Intelligence could provide a dashboard view of carbon dioxide emissions, both by facility and rolled up to the corporate level. Fully 72 percent of respondents thought an environmental dashboard would be very useful or critical to their needs. Emission trends could be tracked over time, as well as against specific emissions targets, whether they are government-mandated, company set or industry best practices. Better visibility can help companies make smarter choices about carbon trading credits or determine if additional emissions control investments may be required.

Some Lawson customers are already finding ways to leverage their investments in Lawson for corporate citizenship. For example, Kappala, one of the world's most efficient and environmentally friendly wastewater treatment plants, uses Lawson Enterprise Asset Management to help ensure that the wastewater from 500,000 people is reliably turned into pure water by minimizing the risk of asset failures. The facility, based on an island 10 kilometers northeast of Stockholm, is able to extend the life of its equipment without risking unexpected failures in part by leveraging the management capabilities of the Lawson application.

"This is ultimately about risk management," added Frank. "Many of these corporate citizenship issues are also regulatory compliance issues, and many others will become compliance issues in the future. If companies can effectively automate and integrate how these programs are tracked, they are likely to save money and can have more confidence in the information they're getting."

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