All at sea: SAP was barely out of the port when it sank its 'social responsibility' voyage

Push to buy from 'purposeful suppliers' coincides with launch of yachting app

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Making a company's ethical image all shipshape and Bristol fashion requires careful navigation of choppy waters – so perhaps SAP should know better.

Enterprise software's top dog has launched a corporate initiative in which it promises to direct 5 per cent of its own "addressable" spending to social enterprises and another 5 per cent to diverse suppliers by 2025. According to the ERP biz, that is about £50m globally, and £1.5m in the UK alone.

What's more, in doing so SAP aims to "inspire organisations around the world to buy more goods and services from purposeful suppliers", which raises questions about who exactly are SAP's purposeless suppliers – but let's plough on.

SAP pointed out that the World Bank says global procurement spend in 2019 was at least $14 trillion, making a cool $700bn available to worthy suppliers if they all make the 5 per cent pledge. Even Germany's DAX companies could create a €2.5bn fund with the same technique.

SAP executive board member for customer success, recently appointed global buy social ambassador for Social Enterprise UK, and three-times world's longest job title winner Adaire Fox-Martin said: "This is money we are spending anyway. Why not spend it with suppliers who are delivering social impact as well?”

Why not indeed.

But those self-prescribing a healthy dose of scepticism might have their attention drawn to the fact that the 5 per cent pledge arrives the same day as SAP's partnership with the Sailing Yacht Research Foundation and its launch of Sail Insight, a mobile analytics app for yachtsmen and yachtswomen.

Now, The Register may be wrong, but yacht racing is not a sport known to be easily accessible to inner-city welfare kids or impoverished Guatemalan coffee farmers.

Still, SAP beats on, its boat against the current, to boast about how it has created the world's "largest and most robust sailing database" to provide "insights and transparency using cloud and in-memory technology, processing GPS and wind measurement data in real time".

It is possible, of course, that there are ulterior motives for Germany's flagship tech company to set off on a nautical adventure. Yacht racing, in all its elitist multibillion-dollar glory, is firmly within the territorial waters of Oracle helmsman Captain Larry Ellison, the scourge of licence-abiding software sailors the world over.

It is a reminder, if ever one were needed, that selecting software vendors inevitably puts you between the devil and the deep blue sea. ®

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