An illustration of a Black woman wearing green and balancing on one leg. She is surrounded by flowers and plants.
An illustration of a Black woman wearing green and balancing on one leg. She is surrounded by flowers and plants.
Client
Sage
OFFER
Strategic Futures
Breakthrough Products
INDUSTRY
Climate
Financial Services
< Work

Climate Action for SMBs

A trusted partner leverages data to help SMBs reach net zero

When it comes to climate action, it's easy to just point fingers at big business. But in the UK alone, small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) account for some 50 percent of business emissions. And with more regulation rippling through supply chains, and more and more consumers, employees, and investors becoming increasingly environmentally-conscious, taking climate action is more important than ever. At the same time, for many organizations of this size, resources are tight and there are many other urgent priorities. It’s hard to make changes for the benefit of the environment when your primary focus is on the survival of your business. Recognizing those pressures, Sage, a multinational accounting and business software company, partnered with IDEO to investigate how it could support its customers on their journey to becoming net zero businesses.

Client
Sage
PROGRESS

1.5 million

SMALL- AND MEDIUM-SIZED UK BUSINESSES CAN ACCESS SAGE EARTH

50 Sage customers enrolled in a pilot program

Climate scientists will help guide decision-making based on the data Sage Earth unlocks for its customers
A group of illustrations depicting a Black woman who is the owner of a small business, taking her journey to net zero

Small- and medium-sized businesses—companies with fewer than 500 employees—make up about 90 percent of the world’s businesses, according to U.N.-backed SME Climate Hub.

Two thirds of small businesses don’t know how they’re going to reach net zero, and lack the resources to do so, according to a recent survey by SME Climate Hub. Still, the majority reported they want to act on climate, recognizing it can help them become a more resilient business.

Large companies may be the biggest emitters of greenhouse gasses, but an estimated 80 percent of those emissions come from supply chains—often made up of smaller enterprises.

For more than 40 years, Sage has helped businesses of all sizes navigate complex business environments. While many of its larger customers have the means and the structure to support climate initiatives, many of its smaller customers do not.

Sage wanted to help its SMB customers get ahead of future climate regulations and meet consumer expectations. And building carbon-footprint evaluation and mitigation tools would also dovetail nicely with Sage’s own climate aspirations: cutting its own emissions in half by 2030. Together, Sage and IDEO investigated how the company could leverage the data in its platform to calculate its customers’ emissions, both direct and indirect, and how that information could spur action as they aim to hit net zero.

To get started, the design team went deep with customers running all kinds of businesses—from a taxi company to a champagne bar to a falconry center. Business owners shared that their focus often has to be on the day-to-day, a series of small decisions that when added together, lead to business success. For many, taking on a problem as complex as climate change just felt too big. IDEO and Sage synthesized those insights and began working across verticals and products, bringing together experts from marketing, tech, sustainability, and operations to build out new concepts. With the help of two carbon accountants, the team worked to figure out how existing data could inform customers about both their direct and indirect emissions, which can be harder to track. Given how tight SMBs’ margins are, they focused on how that knowledge could fuel emissions-cutting changes that also save money, giving businesses extra incentive to take action. Together, the team created a roadmap of customer outcomes and experience guidelines to help shape future products. Sage has taken that work forward, launching Sage Earth, a platform that aims to help businesses measure, manage and mitigate emissions—even across supply chains. The product is currently available to 1.5 million SMB businesses in the UK.

For more than 40 years, Sage has helped businesses of all sizes navigate complex business environments. While many of its larger customers have the means and the structure to support climate initiatives, many of its smaller customers do not.

Sage wanted to help its SMB customers get ahead of future climate regulations and meet consumer expectations. And building carbon-footprint evaluation and mitigation tools would also dovetail nicely with Sage’s own climate aspirations: cutting its own emissions in half by 2030. Together, Sage and IDEO investigated how the company could leverage the data in its platform to calculate its customers’ emissions, both direct and indirect, and how that information could spur action as they aim to hit net zero.

To get started, the design team went deep with customers running all kinds of businesses—from a taxi company to a champagne bar to a falconry center. Business owners shared that their focus often has to be on the day-to-day, a series of small decisions that when added together, lead to business success. For many, taking on a problem as complex as climate change just felt too big. IDEO and Sage synthesized those insights and began working across verticals and products, bringing together experts from marketing, tech, sustainability, and operations to build out new concepts. With the help of two carbon accountants, the team worked to figure out how existing data could inform customers about both their direct and indirect emissions, which can be harder to track. Given how tight SMBs’ margins are, they focused on how that knowledge could fuel emissions-cutting changes that also save money, giving businesses extra incentive to take action. Together, the team created a roadmap of customer outcomes and experience guidelines to help shape future products. Sage has taken that work forward, launching Sage Earth, a platform that aims to help businesses measure, manage and mitigate emissions—even across supply chains. The product is currently available to 1.5 million SMB businesses in the UK.

An illustration of a supply truck driving between destinations and a Black woman who owns the company in front of her computer using Sage Earth to neutralize her small company's carbon emissions
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“SMBs are the lifeblood of much of the global economy, and hence play a critical role in moving towards a net-zero future. IDEO’s human-centered design approach was critical in understanding how best to support SMBs in this journey.”

Tim Copper
Product Marketing New Initiatives at Sage
The new Sage Earth dashboard showing users their current carbon impact and ways they could improve their footprint
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