A survey posted in the MIT Sloan Management Review described how far Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives have come over the years. The survey reported that two out of three executives believed that sustainability was necessary to be competitive in today’s business environment, and seven out of ten reported that sustainability has a permanent spot on the corporate agenda.While previously seen only as a cost, sustainability have become a clear differentiator–driving businesses to increase sustainable practices not only to improve the planet and its inhabitants, but increasingly improve profits through process efficiencies and operational optimization.
About a year ago, Green Research’s David Schatsky wrote how corporations can best benchmark sustainability goals. He emphasized that goals must be quantitative, public, aggressive and future-thinking. I think this is true–but how can organizations ensure that this is taking place?
I recently spoke with a few software executives to discuss how corporations can best utilize technology to improve their sustainability initiatives. After speaking with them, I feel that there are 3 things that corporations need to do to improve their sustainability initiatives to meet the standards that Schatsky set forth:
1. Utilize Data Automation to Improve Data Collection
To eliminate human error, improve the data collection process and create the potential for real-time analysis, businesses should work to integrate their enterprise systems and automate data collection. This way, information is processed in one central network of databases and is more easily accessible.
2. Deploy Business Intelligence Applications to Better Analyze Dirty Data
While this data is more easily accessible when housed in a central location, it’s often “dirty”–coming from many different sources and containing various attributes that make them hard to organize, process and analyze. Business Intelligence (BI) applications can assist users by processing this data and assisting users in the analysis of their sustainability initiative progress.
In addition, BI tools can assist sustainability teams by providing visualization tools that are both sharable throughout the organization as well as interactive. These applications can help teams make decisions faster, as well as re-charge their brainstorming process on how to innovate around sustainability initiatives.
3. Enforce Accountability by Investing in Data-Minded Leadership
Finally, for businesses to drive efficiency through sustainability teams, they will have to make these teams more accountable. Asking teams to quantify the business’ progress is one step, but leadership must make this the foundation for sustainability teams. Directors focused on metrics and driving process efficiencies through data analysis should be assigned to these teams to increase the quantitative rigor necessary for success. The end result: more accountable programs and corporations, and a more accountable populace.
For more on this subject, check out my blog post over on the SoftwareAdvice.com website (click here): Data Collection + Business Intelligence = Successful Sustainability Initiatives. In addition, feel free to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Michael Koploy
Michael Koploy is an ERP Analyst for Software Advice and blog manager of of WMSG. He reports on news and trends impacting the retail and supply chain industries, with an interest on the use of technology to improve business. He is a graduate of the University of Texas and resides in Austin, Texas. Twitter account (@SCMAdvice