Many Companies Struggle to Get Environmental Data from Systems

by | Oct 17, 2011

Major companies are generally satisfied with the accuracy and completeness of data in their sustainability performance management systems, but 39 percent say the systems are poorly integrated and 38 percent say it’s too hard to get the data they need, according to a report by Green Research.

For Sustainability Performance Management Systems, Green Research asked 32 senior sustainability executives in North America and Europe about the IT systems that help them monitor, track and analyze environmental and sustainability data. Of the companies, 92 percent had revenues over $1 billion, with 53 percent making over $10 billion.

Companies with effective systems said benefits have included a streamlined process for setting environmental goals, greater employee engagement, and reduced time and effort to produce reports and respond to NGO questionnaires.

But 19 percent said data analysis through their system was difficult.

Green Research said many companies still use spreadsheets to track environmental performance. And it said even companies with dedicated sustainability systems may need employees to manually enter data, which slows the systems down and leaves room for error.

But the report said dissatisfaction with current systems could spell opportunity for vendors such as CSRware, Carbon Guerrilla, Carbon Systems, Cloud Apps, e3 Solutions, Enablon, Enviance, ENXSuite, FirstCarbon Solutions, Hara, Locus Technologies, ProcessMAP and Verisae. Enterprise resource planning vendors such as SAP and Oracle, as well as consultants and systems integrators such as Accenture and Deloitte, could also benefit.

Most of the respondents said their companies have slated funds for system upgrades in the coming year; 37 percent said they would spend under $50,000 and 33 percent said they would spend over $50,000, but another 30 percernt said they didn’t know how much they would spend.

Most respondents said the sustainability department would fund software investments, and over 70 percent said they were putting money up for consultants.

Green Research said that progress toward sustainability goals should be reviewed at least quarterly by senior management. But according to another recent survey it conducted, some 40 percent of senior sustainability executives review goals less frequently than that.

For example, Spain-based telecommunications company Telefónica reports on energy consumption every six months, Green Research says. The company says that smart meters are only used in only a few of its locations, and it otherwise relies on invoicing to collect its energy consumption data.

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