In this article, we’ll go through how CRM tools affect the environment, their sustainability credentials, and give our verdict on the CRM software you should be using if you want to reduce your business’s carbon footprint.

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CRM stands for customer relationship management and is the fastest growing software market, with revenues expected to reach almost $130 billion by 2028. The benefits of using a CRM tool for a small business are obvious — it can help you efficiently keep track of your customers’ details and improve your client relationships. In 2019, 31% of SMEs in the UK were using CRM software.

If you’re already using CRM software, you may not have considered its potential environmental impact before. However, this impact is probably bigger than you expect.

In this article, we’ll go through how CRM tools affect the environment, their sustainability credentials, and give our verdict on the CRM software you should be using if you want to reduce your business’s carbon footprint. 

How do CRM tools affect the environment? 

CRM tools are often owned by massive companies with thousands of employees and multiple office locations, so activities such as employee commuting and powering their offices run up a sizable carbon footprint. However, it’s their digital activities that have the largest impact on the environment. 

The vast majority of businesses that use CRM use cloud-based CRM, meaning the software is accessible using the Internet. This is preferable for most companies because it can be accessed by multiple employees at the same time from different locations and devices. There’s also no need to install any extra hardware and you don’t need any training or technical skill to use it — all you need is a stable internet connection. 

Though we’ve already written about the massive impact of the cloud on the environment, it bears repeating. The internet accounts for roughly 3.7% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Of this 3.7%, 19% come from data centers. Cloud computing also uses massive amounts of electricity to power and cool the servers. In 2012, the IT sector used more electricity than the whole of Russia

This is why it’s important to choose a CRM tool that aims to reduce their environmental impact by using renewable energy to power their data centers and/or providing a carbon neutral cloud.

Image credit: Unsplash

Best eco-friendly CRM tools 

CRM ToolHas a sustainability policyRegularly discloses carbon emissionsCarbon neutral/aims to hit net zeroAims to use 100% renewable energyCloud-powered by renewable energy
SalesforceYes✅ carbon neutral nowBy 2022
Microsoft Dynamics Yes✅ carbon neutral nowBy 2025By 2025
SAPYes✅ net zero by 2023
OracleYesBy 2025By 2025
HubSpot✅ carbon neutral now
ZohoNot declaredNot declaredNot declaredNot declaredNot declared
PipedriveNot declaredNot declaredNot declaredNot declaredNot declared
NimbleNot declaredNot declaredNot declaredNot declaredNot declared
CreatioNot declaredNot declaredNot declaredNot declaredNot declared
SugarCRMNot declaredNot declaredNot declaredNot declaredNot declared
OdooNot declaredNot declaredNot declaredNot declaredNot declared
KeapNot declaredNot declaredNot declaredNot declaredNot declared
SuperOfficeNot declaredNot declaredNot declaredNot declaredNot declared

Salesforce

Salesforce has a 19.8% market share in the global CRM market and is used by over 150,000 businesses. It has over 56,000 employees worldwide and in the 2021 fiscal year, it generated $21.25 billion in revenue. 

What they do well:

Salesforce has a brief Global Environmental Policy in which they detail their sustainability goals. They’re carbon neutral for their global operations, having hit net zero in 2017 by investing in offsetting projects such as solar water heating in India. This means the cloud that they deliver to their customers is also carbon neutral. They aim to use 100% renewable energy in their global operations by 2022 and have signed various wind energy agreements to achieve this goal. In 2020, they set a target to support the conservation, restoration, and growth of 100 million trees by the end of the decade, and since then, they’ve already funded over 10 million trees. Their Sustainability Cloud also enables businesses to keep track of their emissions. 

What they don’t do well:

Their sustainability policy hasn’t been updated since 2018 and could be more comprehensive. 

Microsoft Dynamics 

Microsoft employs 144,000 people and is the third American company in history to be worth over $1 trillion. The Microsoft platform offers many other digital services to businesses, like Microsoft Planner, which is a productivity tool. 

What they do well:

Microsoft has a comprehensive sustainability policy and regularly discloses their emissions in detailed annual sustainability reports. They’ve been carbon neutral since 2012, aim to be carbon negative by 2030, and intend to remove all the carbon they’ve emitted since their founding in 1975 by 2050. They’ve also set a target to use 100% renewable energy in their operations by 2025.

What they don’t do well: 

Microsoft continues to use non-renewable energy to power their cloud. In 2017, they published their plans to build the world’s first data center to be powered by natural gas. They also still collaborate with oil and gas giants. In 2019, they announced their partnership with Chevron and Schlumberger, aiming to harness their cloud platform to improve digital services in the energy sector. This led to accusations of Microsoft’s involvement in the climate crisis and a walkout by many employees during the global climate strike. 

SAP

SAP has over 100,000 employees and over 437,000 customers worldwide. In 2020, they generated over €27 billion in revenue.

What they do well:

SAP has a simple environmental policy and publishes detailed sustainability reports every year in which they report their emissions. In 2017, they set a goal to be carbon neutral by 2025, but their progress towards this goal has meant that they’ve been able to bring it forward to 2023. Their cloud is powered by 100% renewable energy and they aim to replace ⅓ of their company car fleet with electric or fuel cell cars by 2025. They also provide a number of tools to their customers to help them understand and reduce their carbon footprint, such as SAP Product Footprint Management and SAP Business Ecology Management

What they don’t do well: 

Their environmental policy isn’t regularly updated and hasn’t been changed since 2017. Though their cloud is already powered by renewable energy, they haven’t set a target for using 100% renewable energy across their operations by a specific date, and the percentage of renewable energy that they use is unclear. They also didn’t meet their target for phasing out single-use plastics by 2020, though this was largely out of their control due to hygiene concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Oracle

Oracle has 135,000 employees and 430,000 customers worldwide. In 2020, they generated $39 billion in revenue.

What they do well:

Oracle has an environmental policy, discloses their emissions in their corporate citizenship datasheets, and also publishes regular sustainability reports. They’ve set a number of sustainability targets by 2025, like using 100% renewable energy across their operations and reducing employee air travel emissions by 25%. In 2019 they had already achieved 100% renewable energy use at the Oracle cloud data centers in Europe. 88% of their key direct manufacturers have also set environmental or carbon reduction goals. 

What they don’t do well:

It’s clear from the sustainability pages on their website that they aim to continuously reduce their carbon footprint, but they haven’t explicitly committed to carbon neutrality within a specific time frame. Their most recent sustainability report reflected on their performance in 2018, so we don’t know how they’ve been doing since then. 

Image credit: Unsplash

HubSpot 

HubSpot has 4,500 employees and over 113,000 customers in 120 countries. Earlier this year, they reached $1 billion in annual recurring revenue. 

What they do well: 

HubSpot is carbon neutral and has offset all their historical emissions from 2006 by purchasing carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates (RECs). In 2020, they invested in RECs in every country where they have an office. Their offices meet high environmental standards and their Dublin office is one of only 12 buildings in Ireland that is LEED Platinum certified. They’ve also dedicated a page on their website to sustainability

What they don’t do well: 

They don’t have a clear environmental policy and don’t release sustainability reports. In spite of their investment in RECs, the percentage of renewable energy they use in their operations is unclear. 

Zoho

Zoho employs almost 7,000 people worldwide and has over 60 million users.

What they do well:

In 2019, Zoho set up a solar energy farm in the south of India to power its offices and data centers in Chennai. This farm saves roughly 7,200 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year, which is the same as driving almost 22 million miles. 

What they don’t do well:

They have 10 data centers and 12 offices around the world, most of which are still powered by non-renewable energy. They don’t have anything about the environment on their website and haven’t made any explicit sustainability commitments, so we don’t know how sustainable they are now or whether they aim to reduce their environmental impact in the future.

Pipedrive

Pipedrive has over 800 employees and is used by 95,000 companies around the world. As of 2020, it was valued at $1.5 billion

What they do well:

To mark their recruitment of 700 employees in December 2020, Pipedrive planted 700 trees in the Amazon. In April 2021, they joined the Green Tiger initiative, an Estonian platform which aims to boost environmental awareness and create a basis for a green economy by taking companies’ suggestions to policymakers and educating companies on the circular economy. 

What they don’t do well: 

They don’t have a sustainability policy or even a page dedicated to sustainability on their website, so we don’t know how sustainable they are or whether they’ve set any sustainability goals for the future. Their tree planting efforts were a one-off task, and we would like to have seen more from them in on-going support.

Nimble

Nimble is used by 140,000 people worldwide. 

There’s nothing on Nimble’s website about the environment or sustainability, so we can’t comment on what they do and don’t do well.

Creatio 

Creatio operates in 110 countries across the world and employs over 400 people. 

Creatio also doesn’t have anything on their website about the environment or sustainability. 

SugarCRM

SugarCRM employs around 500 people and has users in 120 countries.

Unfortunately, SugarCRM’s website doesn’t include anything about the environment or sustainability.

Odoo

Odoo has 5 million users and over 950 employees. They grow at 60% every year and their revenue growth has remained consistently above 50% over the last decade. 

Odoo doesn’t have anything on their website about the environment or sustainability. 

Keap

Keap is used by 125,000 people and has 360 employees. 

Keap doesn’t have anything on their website about the environment or sustainability.

SuperOffice CRM

SuperOffice CRM is used by 150,000 people every day. 

Though their website includes a page dedicated to social responsibility, it includes no information on environmental sustainability.

Image credit: Unsplash

Our recommended CRM tools

Based on this information, we’d recommend the following four CRM tools:

  • Salesforce
  • Microsoft Dynamics 
  • SAP
  • Oracle

These companies are all transparent with regards to their sustainability performance and have made clear commitments to reducing their impact on the environment within a specific time frame. 

As for price and accessibility to small businesses, Salesforce comes out on top. Their CRM solution for small businesses can support up to 10 users and is available from £18 ($25) per month in their all-in-one sales and support app. 

Depending on the product you’re interested in, Oracle may also be an affordable option. The full price list of Oracle’s products is available here.

Meanwhile, Microsoft Dynamics CRM for small and medium businesses is available starting from £37.70 per month, and SAP’s pricing is available upon request. 

Conclusion

If you currently use a CRM tool that is not clearly committed to minimising their environmental impact, consider switching to either Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, SAP, or Oracle. Taking this simple step could reduce your business’s carbon footprint more than you might think. Alternatively, if you’re looking at one of the other names in this list – email them and ask what their Net Zero targets are!

For more advice on how to make your business’s online presence more sustainable, check out the rest of our Sustainable Technology series, where you’ll find the most sustainable email marketing software, productivity tools, and web hosting, with more to come. 

Sophie Comninos
Author: Sophie Comninos

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