Force.com-Based Application Tackles Carbon Management and Accounting

For the past several weeks, the world’s attention has been riveted on the Gulf of Mexico, where millions of gallons of crude oil have leaked into the ocean and threatened both environmental and commercial interests. However, companies are every day dealing with their energy choices and costs, as evidenced by a slew of technology announcements recently angled toward lowering IT costs by better managing energy use.

Now, CloudApps, a carbon management software company, and FinancialForce.com, which makes accounting software built on Salesforce.com’s Force.com platform, have announced a partnership integrating their two products.

The CloudApps Carbon solution is designed to allow companies to perform end-to-end carbon management and accounting related to their carbon emissions and energy usage.

Sustainability Reaches the Boardroom

One pressing issue facing UK companies is the new UK Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) legislation, CloudApps CEO Simon Wheeldon told CRM Buyer. The new regulations went into effect in April, along with a voluntary Carbon Disclosure Project, which many global corporations are seeking to address.

Of course, UK companies are not alone in facing new laws and “pay to pollute” programs, he noted.

The whole issue of carbon emissions and sustainability is “going from the basement to the boardroom,” Wheeldon stressed. In fact, many companies are establishing sustainability positions at the vice president or “C” level, installing chief sustainability officers.

Where companies flounder is in connecting their efforts to manage emissions and meet regulatory standards with their financial performance and bottom line.

CSO Meets CFO

The emerging role of chief sustainability officer involves the management and reduction of carbon emissions across the entire company, according to CloudApps. This often results in reduced operational costs, though — and those issues fall in the domain of the CFO. In turn, companies assess their performance against emissions standards — keeping an eye on competitors’ emissions performance as well — and report those findings to the organization’s board.

“When managed as an asset, carbon creates a business advantage, yet very few companies do it well,” observed Wheeldon. In addition, companies must somehow keep track of other energy-related costs, such as transportation and travel methods and costs.

FinancialForce.com takes the information on carbon emissions from the CloudApps Carbon application and converts it into accounting transaction data so that carbon can be monitored and reported as an asset in its own right. Both FinancialForce.com and CloudApps have been built on the Force.com platform, and the partnership solution will be cloud-based, using a pay-as-you-go subscription model, said Wheeldon.

Both companies are touting their close relationship with Salesforce.com and the fact that they were built natively on the Force.com platform as benefits supporting ease of use. For its part, FinancialForce.com, which did not respond to requests for comment in time for this article, bills itself as “the only financial management application that ‘Speaks Salesforce,'” and thus aims to “do for finance what Salesforce.com has done for CRM.”

Small World

Wheeldon himself has served tenures at both Siebel and Salesforce.com, most recently running the European business for Force.com. He saw an intersection point between increased interest in cloud computing and increasing business pressures related to climate change and efforts to address it, he said. Thus, his company built and has released three iterations of its carbon emissions management software in the last nine months.

Along the way, the company has picked up expertise from likely partners and competitors, including other Salesforce.com veterans as well as employees from Oracle and Deloitte, which, according to Wheeldon, is particularly known as a consultant in the carbon management space.

As yet, the combined application has no existing customers, so it’s difficult to predict what uptake of such an integrated solution would be or what shape the competitive landscape for this type of product will take.

CloudApps is working with a handful of global organizations, said Wheeldon. It expects to make several launch announcements within the next month or so.

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