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5 sustainability lessons learned from Celonis' third Sustainability Hackathon

Celonis recently held its fourth Impact Day, highlighted by its third Sustainability Hackathon held in Munich and New York. More than a dozen customers outlined sustainability use cases and built solutions within a day. 

The day-long Hackathon highlighted how sustainability is a priority on companies' 2023 to-do list and surfaced a bevy of takeaways. Here's a look at some of the lessons learned from Celonis' third Sustainability Hackathon.

Master data management is key to sustainability. Let's get real: Master data management is key to everything but isn't often considered core to sustainability. Every customer participating in the hackathon highlighted the challenges wrangling data across databases, systems, and third-party suppliers. As evidenced by all of the participants being able to create minimum viable products based upon the data they brought with them, these data challenges aren't an excuse not to start the sustainability journey, but you may need to cleanse and prep data to get rolling.

One notable takeaway is that it's a big help if ESG data is already in current systems. For shipping emissions, data such as shipment weight and distance can be combined with other information to create baselines for sustainability efforts.

During the proofs of concepts delivered at the Hackathon, customers ingested data from multiple systems, databases and cloud stores using Celonis' Execution Management System (EMS). One takeaway is that many of the data points needed to calculate emissions are already in existing systems and can be harmonized with the help of EMS, as well as enriched by specific sustainability data. 

Also see: What is sustainability in business? The process, returns, KPIs and everything you need to know | Supply chain optimization, sustainability are blending together | 6 steps to operationalize sustainability

Shipping emissions and logistics are a core sustainability focus. Most customers were focused on outbound and inbound shipping emissions as use cases for two reasons. First, logistics is a simple add-on to the Celonis data model because it only requires ERP data. In addition, logistics is a quick win that demonstrates value and creates momentum for more sustainability projects. For instance, if you can bundle orders, choose the most efficient routes and handle returns better, you can move the needle on carbon emissions - and cost. Customers were focused on optimizing routes as well as transportation modes to lower emissions.

But companies are also looking at new use cases. Supplier sustainable spend management was surfaced by one customer as a primary use case with a solid plan to move forward with a minimum viable product. Customers also detailed scope 3 purchased material emissions and inventory waste management as use cases.

Automation will be key to broadening adoption of sustainability efforts. Customers were using Celonis EMS Action Flows to automatically calculate emissions, consolidate orders and optimize processes. Ultimately, the goal for many customers was to proactively select the most environmentally friendly transportation mode. With automated measurement, relevant insights and sustainability actions are democratized beyond central sustainability teams. Another perk of automation: It minimizes disruption as sustainability becomes operational

Use a crawl, walk, run approach. Customers were taking a very pragmatic view of sustainability with alignment to broader digital transformation and supply chain initiatives. In other words, just get started on your sustainability efforts and learn by doing. Hackathon participants were focused on generating sustainability wins early and building from there. Customers said they planned to leverage Celonis EMS Sustainable Spend Management App, in partnership with Ecovadis and IntegrityNext, and Shipping Emissions Reduction App, in partnership with Climatiq, to operationalize sustainability goals faster.


Larry Dignan mugshot 2022
Larry Dignan
Editor in Chief (former)

Larry Dignan is the former Editor in Chief of Celonis Media. Before joining Celonis, he was Editor in Chief of ZDNet and has covered the technology industry and transformation trends for more than two decades, publishing articles in, Inter@ctive Week, The New York Times, and Financial Planning magazine.

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