Technology: The managing arm of your CSR

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By Sucheta Karmakar

In 1953, Howard R. Bowen in his book ‘Social Responsibilities of the Businessman’ coined the term ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ describing it as “The obligations of businessmen to pursue those policies, to make those decisions, or to follow those lines of action which are desirable in terms of the objectives and values of our society.”

The whole society is transitioning towards becoming digital. The technological changes are resulting in ascent of new vistas of opportunities in the various domains of CSR too. Organizations are trying to integrate the modern and latest technologies in the process of delivery of CSR projects, programs and initiatives. As CSR initiatives and their spending are increasing by the day, manual CSR monitoring and management is becoming more and more tedious and time consuming. Maintenance of large number of documents from different locations and generation of reports manually is a challenge in itself. Emerging technologies are aiding to overcome these challenges.

CSR/Sustainability can be hard to measure, involving large volumes of information drawn from different sources. Collecting this data though, is becoming easier thanks to a new generation of smart devices. GIS technology is proving to have a major role in using this data for better monitoring of CSR by tracking of CSR activities conducted by corporate houses on the ground. GIS assists in demographic location analysis of the CSR activities undertaken thus helping in need assessment. GIS maps created by baseline survey, census data and other details of the villages portray the existing socio-economic scenarios of the areas. Digital maps of schools, roads, facilities for drinking water, sanitation and other existing infrastructure of a village can be generated. Based on the maps created, gap analysis can be conducted and the CSR activities can be planned and implemented accordingly. It is becoming easier for organizations to monitor milestones of the projects with geo-tagged images of the project locations and inspection report from the field real-time.

Demand for information about the social and environmental performance of companies is on the rise. CSR performance data is thus becoming an increasingly important feature of corporate reports. The difficulty lies in taking all the data along with one’s CSR policy and understanding its outcome. MIS technology helps in this. A centralized repository of all the records of CSR solves the problem of haphazard data storage and retrieval. MIS can help in easy fund allocation and expenditure tracking, proposal handling, project progress management and storage of important documents associated. The process of due diligence & monitoring activities of NGO/Implementing partners, supervision of field level CSR executives also becomes less tedious with MIS at hand. MIS is very helpful at furnishing reports, performance indicator generation as per requirement in user-friendly and informative format.

With the usage of technology collecting and collating information has become easier and faster. Newer application areas and features are being invented now and then. Need assessment of the locations, management of fund, daily monitoring of project and assessing their impacts, team management and report generation are the backbone of smooth running of CSR work.

With the 2013 Regulation Act and increasing environmental awareness among consumers, it is becoming mandatory for businesses to be involved in CSR and operate in a sustainable manner. Gathering the information and data required to generate meaningful policies and produce reliable reports is certainly not an easy task. Fortunately, the explosion in revolutionary technology is paving the futuristic way for processing and analysing CSR data.

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