Microsoft Unveils New ESG Data Tools Within Cloud, Fabric Platforms

Illustration of ESG data platform, computer with a plant

(Credit: Microsoft)

by | Feb 15, 2024

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Microsoft is adding data management and AI-based offerings to help companies analyze their ESG data, standardize information from multiple sources, and improve emissions tracking, among other capabilities.

The new offerings have been integrated into the Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability and Microsoft Fabric applications. In Microsoft Fabric, ESG data may be incorporated into remaining business data, allowing for more integrated decision-making and centralization of data. Four specific capabilities were added to the Fabric platform, including ESG data estate, emissions insights, environmental metrics and analytics, and social and governance metrics and reports.

The company also developed Copilot in Microsoft Sustainability Manager, an artificial intelligence-based chat tool that may provide quick answers to queries about environmental data. For example, the application can be asked questions about assessment reports or corporate sustainability reporting environmental metrics, making for more efficient report generation overall. The application may also speed up potentially cumbersome processes, like creating a calculation model for mobile combustion data or determining the global warming potential of a given gas.

Within Microsoft Sustainability Manager, tools have been added as companies adopt a wider range of sustainability objectives. The platform will now include water and waste sustainability data capabilities in addition to carbon emissions data. Also, the company has added an ESG value chain solution to allow for data collection from suppliers and gain partner-specific emissions — this may be particularly useful for tracking Scope 3 emissions.

Applications Aim to Simplify ESG Data Management

Many companies consider themselves underprepared for incoming ESG reporting standards.

Further, studies have found that while most companies value sustainability, only about 16% maintain adequate data to show sustainability has been integrated into their overall strategies. Without data to support sustainability targets, companies are unable to determine which areas to prioritize and may not be able to make meaningful progress.

By using tools such as Microsoft’s to streamline the reporting process and gather accurate data, companies can more seamlessly adopt sustainability into their operations. For instance, Intelligent Insights, Microsoft’s addition of AI capabilities within the Sustainability Manager, can identify errors and missing data. It may also scan a given organization’s data to identify opportunities for short-term and long-term changes that may be made to reduce emissions.

As data needed for reporting standards becomes increasingly complex, data management systems may respond to companies’ common concerns, like potential greenwashing or lack of ESG expertise.

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