Today SAP releases GoTwo by SAP, a cloud-based carpooling application that promises to make ridesharing easier for corporate and municipal employees. What started as collaboration between two application developers ended up saving SAP employees time, money and gasoline–not to mention those pesky carbon emissions.
GoTwo is a game changer because it could transform the way commuters view and accept carpooling. Most carpooling match-maker schemes are quite tedious and are as much of a hassle to sort out as the actual mundane commute on a congested interstate. When I lived in the Bay Area, I remember calling the local transportation authority to get car-pooling resources. After my inquiry, I received a long list that read like a those hefty Cheesecake Factory or TGI Friday’s menus: and like them, nothing on those long lists had any appeal.
SAP’s combination of cloud computing, algorithms and experience developing enterprise software promises a huge shift. During a recent interview with SAP’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Peter Graf, he explained the program’s background and potential.
“The amount of waste commuters generate is enormous,” Graf said as we started our talk, and the numbers indeed are eyebrow-raising.
In the United States alone, the commuting statistics on any given day are as overwhelming as they are depressing. The average commuter spends $16 a day driving 32 miles round-trip for a total of 52 minutes. Tally up the 132 million or so commuters, and they spend $2.1 billion, spending 13,000 years to go 4.2 million miles–about the distance the planet Neptune is from the sun. The savings to commuters is obvious; but companies can also save money and resources while scoring additional productivity from their employees.
This is a great story about innovation, and is the first time an internal project at SAP became an external product.” – Peter Graf, SAP’s CSO
GoTwo first launched on July 4, 2011. SAP invited 20,000 employees to participate in the system and 8,500 responded. Since then, SAP employees have had access to over 36,000 carpools, and as a result, avoided driving over 400,000 miles, emitted 88 tons fewer tons of carbon and networked an additional 2,200 days with each other. And, according to Graf, SAP created over $5 million in additional value.
SAP’s engineers designed GoTwo to work from just about anywhere: the web as well as smartphones, and the system also integrates with email programs such as Outlook. Because GoTwo is cloud-based, a company’s IT department has little to do once the licensing agreement is inked. Graf insisted the system would be seamless enough for employees to enter their commuting habits and preferences.
But GoTwo will not simply be a passive ridesharing and matchmaking system. If anyone has ever “casually carpooled” in the Bay Area, for example, the bane of that scheme is getting a ride back home–there are often more carpool drivers in the morning than the evening. But if an employee suddenly needs a ride back home, Graf explained, finding a ride is about as simple as creating a calendar request: after a few clicks, possible rides appear, the employee selects the one most convenient, and then everyone traveling in that car together gets copied on the request. As is the case with any new software program, the challenge is adoption: so as soon as a new user joins the system, suggested rides appear immediately. Gamification and lottery options are also available if a company is aggressive about widening GoTwo’s adoption throughout the company.
For now, SAP is targeting GoTwo to large companies and municipalities: Graf explained that cities are interested because they can roll this program out to small businesses with employees who wish to share a ride with another employee who works at another business nearby. And businesses can choose how they wish to participate–they can opt-in to allow employees to commute with others from different organizations. Users, in turn, would have the choice to widen their net to commuters outside their organization, or stick with a colleague.
SAP has launched GoTwo in the U.S., Germany, Canada and Singapore. For now, it’s available for licensing in the U.S. and Germany; plans to roll this out to additional markets such as France and Italy are underway.
Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye is the editor of GreenGoPost.com and frequently writes about business sustainability strategy. Leon also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business; his work has also appeared on Sustainable Brands, Inhabitat and Earth911. At Better4Business in Anaheim on May 2, he will join a panel discussing how companies can present their CSR initiatives to the media. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter or Instagram (greengopost).
[Image credit: SAP]