In context: If you’ve read a lot about changes in the corporate world lately, you’ve undoubtedly started hearing about something called “CSR”, short for Corporate Social Responsibility, and “ESG”, acronym for Environmental , Social, and Corporate Governance. Seemingly out of the blue, organizations of all types and sizes are advertising, blogging, and promoting their own goals in these areas and talking about the progress they have made against them.
Topics related to CSR and ESG are not at all new, but they have certainly received a lot more attention and attention due to societal changes, growing environmental concerns and regulatory requirements. In particular, environmental sustainability issues have received a lot of attention recently, as massive forest fires, floods and other natural disasters brought on by climate change have wreaked havoc in countries around the world.
As a result, many organizations have announced ambitious plans to do things like reduce their energy use and carbon footprint and make every effort to reduce their impact on the environment. Companies are not just focusing on their own efforts here, but even on the companies that partner with them in supply chains.
Speaking of supply chains, industries of all types now face enormous challenges in this area. While most of these challenges are due to the pandemic, some can also be related to environmental changes. This is especially true in sectors like agriculture and energy. Looking ahead, many organizations are also very concerned about the impact that future weather and environmental issues could have on business continuity. In the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Risks Report 2021, the top 3 risks they cite for businesses over the next 10 years are all weather and environmental: extreme weather, failure of action climate and human-caused environmental damage.
In this context, a new SaaS offering from IBM called Environmental Intelligence Suite (EIS) seems to make a lot of sense. It also provides, perhaps belated to some, a more solid explanation of why IBM bought Weather Company (the digital assets behind Weather Channel, but not the cable channel itself) over 5 years ago.
The environmental intelligence suite combines extensive real-time weather data with geospatial analysis and AI-powered advancements from IBM Research. These capabilities give companies using the tool the ability to monitor and forecast weather and environmental changes, even in the medium to long term. They also provide insight into the potential impact of these changes on a company’s operations.
For sectors like transport and logistics, as well as insurance, agriculture and energy, this type of information can be critical. Not only can it provide the kinds of obvious warnings you’d expect, but EIS can also do things like overlay satellite images of tree growth on top of existing power lines to warn energy companies where they need to be. prioritize their pruning and row cleaning efforts.
In other areas like manufacturing, IBM says its customers have discovered significant real-world savings and efficiency improvements by leveraging the analytics data generated by the tool. More importantly, it delivers that information without the hassle and specialist skills that were previously required to try to pull that data together.
The Environmental Intelligence Suite also includes a set of tools designed to facilitate a company’s environmental data collection process. Currently, the process of collecting data for ESG and CSR reports can be difficult for many organizations. IBM’s carbon performance engine and associated carbon accounting APIs are a set of tools designed by the company to help collect the required metrics data, generate reports, allow companies to see how they are aligning on evolving standards and to make comparisons with other companies in their industry.
The tool can automatically adapt to changing regulatory requirements and is designed to integrate with existing ERP systems to collect some of the necessary data. There are even several AI-powered Natural Language Processing (NLP) -based capabilities that compensate for things like the different names some countries use for the same gas, ensuring that multinational organizations can adapt with precision ( and automatically) to these potentially confusing variations. .
While IBM’s offering appears comprehensive, it isn’t the only company helping other businesses determine and improve their energy use.
At this week’s Google Cloud Next, Google unveiled a free tool called the Google Cloud Carbon Footprint which, as the name suggests, allows companies that use Google Cloud to measure the carbon footprint of the workloads they do there. perform. In addition, Google will provide carbon reduction recommendations that will make it easy for businesses to remove forgotten and / or unattended projects and workloads. While this is clearly only a small portion of most organizations’ total energy use, it’s always nice to see Google making this information available for free.
Despite their relatively rapid rise to the corporate scene, there is no doubt that initiatives related to CSR and ESG will continue. This is why efforts like those of IBM and Google are so important.
Helping businesses prepare for environmental challenges and collect information they can use to reduce their own impact on the environment is something that a wide variety of organizations will want and need for some time to come.
Bob O’Donnell is the Founder and Chief Analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC, a technology consulting firm that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the technology industry and the professional finance community. You can follow him on Twitter @bobodtech.
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