IBM has launched a new Sustainable Supplier Information Management Consulting offering designed to help clients develop the methodology to manage and analyse supplier information across a range of sustainable measures, from energy use to environmental impact, safety, efficiency, labour practices, etc. It also helps with reporting sustainability information to business partners, regulators and other key stakeholders.
IBM’s view is that companies need to use ‘smart’ technologies and processes to collect, analyse and act on the large amounts of information from across their supplier networks. The company estimates that the end result can improve supply chain efficiency by 8-12%, with similar reductions in cost, environmental impact and risk.
However, in its 2009 c-level executive survey on green and sustainability, IBM found that 29% aren’t collecting any of this data at all from their supply chains, 80% aren’t collecting supplier data for CO2 emissions and water usage, and 60% aren’t checking supplier data for labour standards.
In addition, half the respondents said supply chain partners are demanding new standards for carbon management, but only 19% are collecting enough CO2 emissions data. Another 75% said partners also require new standards for energy management, waste and labour standards.
IBM’s consulting offering is designed to help develop processes and systems across a range of areas, from process change management, supplier audit management, qualification management, real-time quality management, etc. It can also be used with IBM’s Sustainable Procurement offering, which are aimed at more efficient and sustainable procurement.
This is all part of IBM’s comprehensive offering of sustainability consulting and solutions, which are summarised here.
What I find interesting is the mixed marketing messages that come with these offerings, which switch seamlessly between cost and efficiency, environmental impact and sustainability, business risk, and regulator and stakeholder pressure. In this economic climate none of these issues are probably enough to win a deal, but together they address a number of current and future concerns. Sustainability is not going to be a sufficient reason to invest in change until it is widely accepted that it has its financial implications (in terms of carbon cost) and stakeholder pressure (shareholders and investors) built in. It won’t be too long, though.