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The Seven Pillars of Green BI
Defining the Future of Business Intelligence (Part 1)

by William Laurent, William Laurent, Inc.Monday, February 2, 2009

In anticipation of his taking office on January 20th of this year, President-elect Barack Obama has expressed a desire for the Federal Government to spend over 150 billion U.S dollars on green technology. Although the specifics are not known yet, a good portion of this expenditure will undoubtedly be centered around green IT and green computing. The greening of the United States’ infrastructure will be brought about, in large part, via practices proven successful by green IT initiatives, especially those concerned with improving the environmental sustainability of enterprise data centers.

Obama has stated numerous times that he would like to see newly constructed office buildings become 50% more efficient and existing buildings 25% more efficient over the next ten to fifteen years. Numerous incentives for making buildings completely carbon neutral by 2030 are expected to be proposed at the tail-end of this year or early next year at the latest. (An organization’s carbon footprint is the sum total of their GHG emissions, which is only a subset of their total corporate ecological footprint.) Unfortunately, such green aspirations are challenged by the fact that most business enterprises still have little to no actionable data on their environmental footprint. Although organizations may have the acumen and technological means to track profit and loss down to the last penny, they often have little business intelligence or transparency into the most critical sustainability issues. Enter Green business intelligence (BI). Green BI embraces and enables its close cousins—green computing and green IT. If positioned properly, Green BI will be a strategic driver of all green practices. Green BI will be the Holy Grail that leads us all to the promised green pastures of a more sustainable existence.

Since long before the IT revolution, big business has been implacable in figuring out how to conduct their operations in a faster, cheaper, and more efficient manner. Now, as the 21st Century is well underway, the forces of the global marketplace must accommodate the constraints of the biosphere. It is not enough to be the fastest and cheapest: Companies must strive to be the greenest and cleanest as well. Businesses of all sizes have woken up to the need for greater visibility and control over their environmental performance, positioning themselves to take better advantage of cutting-edge green technology and cost-saving green methodologies.

Senior managers and business leaders are now clamoring for environmental performance indicators to be included on their existing executive dashboards. For many of them, a separate stand-alone dashboard, driven by exclusively environmental information and measures—the likes of which have never been available to them—tops their technology wish lists. Study after study has shown that the tidal wave of “going green” will not recede: One-quarter of large companies are currently in the middle of comprehensive green programs, while another 50% are in various planning stages of sizable sustainability projects that will make them better corporate citizens. Green technology programs have made substantial inroads into the larger overall corporate governance agenda, helping companies operate more efficiently and sustainably, resulting in increased value for shareholders, employees, and constituent communities.

Green business intelligence breaks down into seven related, yet importantly distinct components. The Seven Pillars of Green BI provides the actionable “green knowledge” that will best assist global enterprises in monitoring, managing, and implementing their environmentally-wise future.

The Seven Pillars of Green BI


  1. Manufacturing Consumption Footprint (i.e. Resources Used in Production)
  2. Manufacturing Output Footprint (i.e. Waste Created from Production)
  3. Operational Consumption Footprint
  4. Operational Output Footprint
  5. Product Consumption Lifecycle (i.e. Customer Consumption)
  6. Employee Social Footprint
  7. Green BPR (i.e. Green Reengineering of Business Processes, Procurement Patterns, etc.) 

The Seven Pillars of Green BI is a semantic codification that best facilitates any discussion on sustainability-focused business intelligence and “green innovation.” Understanding these classifications is critical to comprehending the overall role of Green BI and being able to glean value from a Green BI platform.

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