Monday, 31 January 2011

Carbon Emissions Management Solution or business analytics? Probably both

Deloitte Deloitte released a report last week entitled ‘Analytics for the sustainable business’.

The report is here, but the main thrust is that with the increasing emphasis on sustainability and climate change, business leaders are looking for help in decision making. While many companies are gathering sustainability-related data across their operations, there is a need to implement business intelligence and data analytics capabilities to turn that raw data into actionable business plans.

The report argues that by applying analytics decision makers can: identify which actions and investments are achieving their
intended goals; detect indicators of risk; allocate resources to efforts with the best prospects of success; understand the economic, social, and environmental factors associated with the entire product and service value chain; and take into account the views and needs of various stakeholders.

“We expect the current strong and growing interest in analytics, coupled with heightened corporate emphasis on sustainability and climate change, to lead to a distinct type of new capability we call “sustainability analytics.” Sustainability analytics, in a broad sense, is an approach that aims to effectively use technology to collect, disseminate, analyze, and use sustainability-related information across the enterprise. Technology is used to gather, store, and aggregate sustainability-related data; to facilitate the preparation of internal and external reports; to perform analytics on sustainability data to help leaders better understand the implications; and to present the results to leadership in a clear, easily understandable format. The overarching goal is to provide internal and external stakeholders with the high-quality information about sustainability they need in order to make
informed decisions
.” (My italics)

The report goes on to say that even organisations that already use environmental management information systems to report on environmental or emissions metrics are finding the solutions are not up to the job at enterprise level, because they were often implemented to address a specific plan or on a local business basis.


It’s an interesting comment. As I’ve maintained in the past, the counting of emissions is complex enough for large organisations and often requires sophisticated solutions. Many of these solutions have extensive capability to track and manage emissions, run scenarios, etc, but do they go far enough?

There are two aspects here. Firstly, do current systems provide the level of analysis that Deloitte describes? Certainly some do and I believe they will get more sophisticated in their analysis in the future. Industry-specific solutions are likely to emerge that not only analyse but also recommend actions, with the potential to benchmark results.

Secondly, will enterprises implement one central solution across an international organisation, or will local operations implement their own solutions. Well history suggests that the latter will often be the case, particularly in the short term. If so, then there will undoubtedly be a need for business intelligent solutions to pull disparate information together and draw the conclusions on which corporate actions will be based.

In the long term I suspect that in practice both approaches will be widespread, particularly if the business intelligence/analytics companies have anything to do with it.

© The Green IT Review

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