SAAS Startup Tunes Enterprises into Social Responsibility

Startup CSRware is developing SAAS-based applications that help enterprises track their environmental footprints.

While green IT is gaining a lot of attention and investment in the high-tech industry, the related concept of corporate social responsibility has only been tackled by a few of the largest software developers in the business.

But now CSR (corporate social responsibility) software, which gives enterprises tools for tracking the amount of resources, such as energy, they are consuming and the amount of greenhouse gases they are releasing into the atmosphere is getting a new twist from an early-phase startup.

CSRware is in the midst of developing software, expected to be available with a summer launch, which will enable companies with multiple data centers to both track their use of resources and identify consumption reduction opportunities.

Large and established vendors like IBM and Lawson Software, are among the few that offer CSR-based applications.

But there is a key difference in how CSRware is going to deliver this functionality. CSRware is utilizing a SAAS (software as a service) model to deliver a suite of Web-based software that, through a set of dashboards and a centralized repository for sustainability management processes, links data center emissions and resource utilization.

The company's founder, Karen Alonardo, has a strong background in IT-with 17 years running data centers at Electronic Arts and Critical Path-coupled with a Masters degree in Environmental Management.

"My background is in high tech and I come from a hosted IT environment," said Alonardo. "After doing that for a long time-I went through the [dot-com] bubble and had a good time-I went back to graduate school. It dawned on me that there was no situation or technology around corporate social responsibility or sustainable management. There are a lot of smart people putting things together, but there was no way to get into the enterprise environment easily. CSR was always a public affairs issue, where people are writing reports."

What Alonardo realized is that in order for business and IT to really take corporate social responsibility seriously, CRS had to be positioned as a technology play and become more of a repeatable process.

At the same time many of the people who deal with corporate social responsibility issues (outside of IT) are not concerned with on-premise implementations of software. "Quite frankly a lot of CSR people are not technical; they actually prefer CSR as a service," she said.