Lack of frequent data collection negatively impacting sustainability strategies

IBM survey shows that companies are collecting data infrequently, and not engaging enough with customers and suppliers to attain stated corporate goals.


IBM's second annual global corporate social responsibility (CSR) survey of senior business executives again shows significant gaps between their goals and their ability to attain them.
Nearly all of the 224 respondents said they remain committed to incorporating CSR principles into their business strategies—despite the global recession—to improve business performance, societal contribution, and reputation.
But the survey results identified three specific problems:

  • Companies aren't collecting and analyzing all the right information about CSR or aggregating it often enough. That means they can't implement real changes that would fundamentally increase efficiency, lower costs, reduce environmental impact, and improve reputation with key stakeholders;

  • Few are collecting enough CSR data from global supply chain partners—missing a major opportunity to reduce inconsistency, inefficiency, waste, and risk that can ripple through a global supply network;

  • Most still don't understand the concerns of their key stakeholders, particularly customers, and are not actively engaging them. That means they're not capturing valuable insights that could improve their businesses and provide access to new opportunities.

For example, only 19% are collecting data on CO2 emissions weekly or more frequently. The rest are collecting it no more than monthly, and most only quarterly. This is enough for meeting government or stakeholder demands for information, but not nearly enough to make systemic changes that would reduce environmental impact.
However, respondents who reported outperforming competitors are doing all those things better—collecting and analyzing the right data frequently to make better decisions, incorporating CSR information from suppliers, and engaging with customers.
Companies are coming under increasing pressure from governments, advocacy groups, investors, prospective employees, and consumers to make their operations, products and services more socially responsible. This covers a range of topics, including environmental concerns, labor practices, product safety and traceability, and procurement practices. At the same time, they are under tremendous economic pressure to reduce costs and increase efficiency wherever possible.

– Edited by David Greenfield , editorial director

Control Engineering's Sustainable Engineering News Desk

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