TechniData Capabilities Will Fuel SAP’s On-Demand Sustainability Strategy

As announced in April, SAP told us this week that it formally completed the acquisition of its longtime partner TechniData — a 500-employee company headquartered in Germany with a presence in both Asia and the United States. TechniData provides sustainability solutions in three areas: 1) health and safety; 2) product safety;  and 3) environmental compliance — for example, process consulting, software services, information on regulatory content, and managed services for EU’s REACH regulation.

Forrester Senior Analyst Holger Kisker and I had the opportunity to talk recently with Jürgen Schwab, the former chairman and CEO of TechniData; Marty Etzel, SAP’s VP of Sustainability Solutions; and Dieter Hässlein, SAP’s VP of Solutions Management for Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S). They told us that SAP has created a sustainability consulting hub accommodating more than 100 consultants, including the former TechniData staff, to support SAP’s sustainability strategy. They also explained the reasons for the acquisition: 1) focusing on content as an integral part of SAP’s sustainability strategy; 2) expanding and refining SAP’s expertise and customer base both beyond the chemicals industry and geographically, as well, in particular in Asia; and 3) improving the capabilities of SAP’s current preconfigured sustainability-related solutions.

At first glance, none of this sounds like breaking news. The two companies have already partnered tightly for several years, with TechniData co-developing and building SAP’s EH&S application. However, what I find interesting is SAP’s investment in elevating its solutions to directly fit the needs of business process professionals through preconfigured processes and — most importantly — through up-to-date regulatory content available on-demand and fueled through a dedicated sustainability consulting hub. SAP’s test bed for solutions like this seems to be the SAP Sustainability Library, which already hosts another on-demand regulatory solution, the Carbon Impact, stemming from the 2009 acquisition of Clear Standards. Is SAP disintermediating another piece of its traditional value chain?