Data Strategy

Sustainable Data: Informing Your Green Credentials

How can we use data to bring businesses, governments, and nations together to help promote sustainability?

It can be argued that the utility of data is limited only by our imagination. Particularly today with the explosion of big data and analytics, where organizations are now afforded rich insights into any manner of critical measures – and the business world is better for it.

There’s also the wider world, however, a global environment, and here we need to ask the question: what can data do to inspire more sustainable business operations? Sure, it’s a question that was rarely asked inside most boardrooms until a few years ago, but times are changing as organizations begin to appreciate that caring for the planet is also good for business. At Syniti, we know cleansing your data and giving back to our Earth through the Syniti Forest are both ways to play a role in sustainability practices.

But what role can data actually play? Let’s take a look.

Measured Progress

First up, we need to define precisely what’s covered by the term sustainability. In recent times this has come to include:

  • ESG – Environment, Social, and Governance
  • CSR – Corporate Social Responsibility

Yet sustainability, in reality, touches on so much more, from responsible supply chain practices to offering eco-friendly products to customers. As a result, the truly sustainable business is now measured by the environmental and societal benefits it delivers – and the revenue it can create through sustainable operations.

A New Form of Value

Each of the activities listed above are built upon, improved with, and ultimately enlivened by trusted and timely data. They also lead to a number of practical benefits, including:

Real-world assessments: bringing together operational data from across different formats, locations, and business functions, enables businesses to evaluate the end-to-end environmental impact of their operations accurately.

Building resilience: extend this view to incorporate various third-party data, and companies can assess the risks presented by factors such as climate change and water quality to their own infrastructure and supply chains – as well as to the communities in which they operate.

Optimizing resources: where the big data generated by an assortment of sensors and devices can be mined for insights into reducing waste (including the amount of defects and materials going to landfills etc.), improving efficiency, and optimizing energy usage – while also saving costs.

Informing Smarter Regulations

Data also has an increasingly important role to play in driving environmental regulations. When the correct information is available in the proper format and quality at the right time, government bodies can utilize it to monitor (for example) the emissions of production facilities.

Doing this enables more informed regulatory frameworks to be put in place and greater freedom for companies to find their preferred means for achieving the desired “end state.”

This last point is particularly important because many existing regulations impose burdens on organizations that fail to deliver the intended environmental benefits to date. With a more open approach to sharing data between businesses and regulators; however, the latter can base decisions on fact – and focus companies on achieving results rather than following rules where:

  • Organizations are empowered to experiment with different approaches (changes to sourcing, product “end of life” strategies, etc.) that best meet their commitments.
  • Regulators can focus on real-time reporting of “environmental quality” data to monitor ongoing performance.
  • The public release of such data (from all companies) could further drive activity by generating benchmark data for customers and employees to act on.

Collaborating for a Sustainable Future

The greater proliferation of data allied with powerful tools to extend its utility is also helping drive a variety of “bigger picture” initiatives. With an appreciation that working in independent silos is not the way forward, a growing number of organizations are beginning to share data and collaborate on their sustainability goals.

What’s needed now is some form of centralized structure to help make the most of this potential, which is where the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data enters the picture. Working to the tagline “Better data. Better decisions. Better lives.,” this is an international network that’s using data to bring businesses, governments, and nations together to help promote sustainability:

  • By 2030 they plan to offer a free and reliable source of up-to-date information for anyone interested in sustainability.
  • They're also targeting the 17 Sustainable Development Goals identified by the UN in 2015, with objectives that include clean water, climate action, and clean energy.

What's Next?

With the body of data available to organizations growing by the second, the task of delivering truly sustainable operations is becoming ever more achievable. Progress over the next few years will be rapid and dependent on accurate, trusted data to inspire both action and complete visibility into the results.

With Syniti Knowledge Platform, we can certainly help you put a tick in the box for this latter requirement.

Connect with us to find out more:

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