SAAS Startup Tunes Enterprises into Social Responsibility - Page 2

But industry analysts indicate CSRware faces significant challenges as an SAAS pioneer in what is clearly an emerging technology sector.

"Both compliance and corporate social and environmental responsibility will be strong market drivers for eco-efficient software in the next three to five years, especially in reporting and analytics," wrote 451 Group analyst Andy Lawrence in a Feb. 15 report.

"We believe the SAAS delivery model is well suited to this function, and CSRware's understanding of both environmental reporting and datacenters will give it an edge in data collection and presentation," the report continued. "But given the immaturity of both the market and of CSRware itself, it will face some tough challenges in winning customers and establishing a defensible market position as competition heats up."

While Lawrence lists a number of potential competitors to CSRware-Enablon, ESP, credit360, StakeWare, Proventia, TechniData aimed at big corporate compliance initiatives-there are some established applications vendors on the CSR trail as well.

On Feb. 12 IBM Global Services released a white paper, titled "Attaining Sustainable Growth through Corporate Social Responsibility," that makes recommendations to help companies develop an integrated CSR strategy.

Part of that strategy, of course, is implementing IBM's software. But IBM also suggests that companies can actually make money through compliance initiatives.

"Quite recently companies have started shifting their thinking about what it means to be socially and environmentally responsible," wrote George Pohle, vice president and global leader for IBM's Business Strategy Consulting Practice and Jeff Hittner, corporate social responsibility leader for the IBM Institute for Business Value in the paper. "Today, a surprising number of companies already regard corporate social responsibility as a platform for growth and differentiation."

Pohle and Hittner said that, in a survey of more than 250 businesses, IBM found 68 percent of businesses are focusing on CSR activities to create new revenue streams, and over half (54 percent) believe their companies' CSR activities are already giving them an advantage over their top competitors. The duo gives the example of Catalyst Paper, a Canadian pulp and paper company that uses its own by-products to power its operations and regains heat from effluence to warm process water, which in turn reduces the company's carbon emissions.

Lawson on the other hand provides a suite of software based on a number of areas including GRC (governance, risk and compliance), food safety and the environment. Lawson, like CSRware, is a registered organizational stakeholder of the Global Reporting Initiative, or GRI. Both companies support the mission of GRI, which is to develop globally accepted sustainability reporting standards. CSRware's reporting framework that helps companies analyze their use of resources and gas emissions is based on GRI's standards, according to 451 Group. "This should ensure that the results are acceptable to CSR professionals and, presumably, auditors," writes Lawrence.