Corporations all over the globe are finally starting to wake up to the promises of green business intelligence (BI). As large and small enterprises fine-tune their governance initiatives, they are noticing much room for improvement when it comes to being a better corporate citizen. In the coming years, the ability to conduct an environmentally sustainable and eco-friendly business will be a primary means to bolstering the corporate governance portfolio. Green BI will be a key driver and strategic enabler in helping companies achieve a lessened environmental footprint and be perceived as an eco-friendly entity. Green BI concepts should not be new to anybody; for years, manufacturing companies have been going green by using intelligent methodologies and technology to measure and improve their raw waste output and report emissions compliance to regulatory agencies. However, green BI promises to give the business community an increased level of control and intelligence into the consumption and waste patterns of all aspects of their business - a paradigm shift that is being welcomed by customers, government agencies, community activists and shareholders alike.
In the last few years, the green IT movement has proven to business leaders and policymakers that environmentally friendly initiatives not only help reduce the polluting and consumption footprint of private enterprises and government organizations, but they also result in cost savings when implemented correctly. As would be expected, the virtualization and smart consolidation of data center infrastructure and business processes can help generate cost savings and productivity gains by orders of magnitude. Large Fortune 1000 companies have reaped enormous rewards with the consolidation of data centers and call centers. As a consequence, BI vendors are starting to catch on that these previous green IT successes can be leveraged to sell green BI solutions to shareholders and management. But green IT is not green BI per se. We must go further with our cycles of measurement by augmenting corporate knowledge factories with new lower-level eco-dimensions that will help organizations report on (in a standard, repeatable fashion) and improve their understanding of sustainability factors.
Green BI provides an unprecedented window into previously untapped areas of cost savings and potential profit. Green BIs value proposition, although quite holistic, should be easy to grasp. By carefully measuring the environmental and social performance of a company in tandem with the economic performance, competitive advantage can be augmented and revenues can be increased. Looking at things from a best practices approach (specifically Control Objectives for Information and related Technology [COBIT] and Information Technology Infrastructure Library [ITIL]), green BI can drive value innovation by creating new opportunities or modifications to consumption patterns and habits. For example, with the right mix of quantifiable data and business rules, organizations can gain detailed insight into the most granular components of a products manufacturing and supply chain as well as its consumption lifecycle. Despite the mature manufacturing processes found in most industries today, immense opportunities still exist to reduce waste and save money in packaging and distribution of countless consumer products. Armed with green intelligence, organizations can better plan and execute programs and initiatives to reduce the amount of waste required to create, market and distribute their products. In addition to environmental factors, they will be better able to focus on how human resources are utilized in the production and distribution of goods. By measuring and reengineering business processes from a sustainability-driven mind-set, companies achieve something which I refer to as green innovation. Although usually driven by sustainability and corporate bottom-line concerns, green innovation can benefit consumers and clients as well. When companies learn how to reduce wasteful packaging and waste byproducts, they are able to pass cost savings on to their customers. In this spirit, it becomes easy to discern how green innovation can help manufacturing conglomerates capture more market share and win the loyalty of new and existing customers.
Green BI will be the primary means of providing an acceptable transparency into corporate consumption and waste patterns throughout all major business processes, whether they are operational or manufacturing-based in nature. Only through such transparency will organizations be able to demonstrate universal compliance and adherence to an environmentally friendly business agenda as well as uphold their lofty promises of sustainability while cultivating benevolence for natural resources. Put simply, green BI will make companies run better, smarter and cheaper, as sustainability management initiatives will, by default, drive the reengineering of business processes (both logically and physically) and the consolidation and virtualization of burdensome infrastructure. BI systems that produce green intelligence do not have to be thought of as cost centers or drains of corporate revenue. With green intelligence, enterprises will finally have domain knowledge that enables innovative measures of conservation-focused cost savings. In addition, they will be able to proactively address future environmental regulations and standards at local, state, federal and international (treaty) levels. Green BI helps extend and supplant many traditional ideas of what constitutes corporate governance now with what it should be - and will be in the future. In this day and age of eco-consciousness, having an environmentally friendly corporate image (backed up with empirical evidence, thanks to green BI and sustainability reporting) is an asset of priceless value.
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