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BI Goes Green

by William Laurent, William Laurent, Inc.Tuesday, September 16, 2008

As Kermit the Frog always demurred “it’s not that easy being green”, however in the last twelve months, Green BI has gone from being a trendy buzzword to something very real and important. Now, eco-friendly corporate knowledge factory concepts are garnering a large amount of attention from BI vendors, corporations, governments and community activists. In reality, companies have been “going green” for years — reducing emissions, recycling, and controlling factory waste in order to achieve compliance and better corporate citizenship.  

Yet current waste cycles (driven by both manufacturing processes and the consumption habits of customers for the world’s goods and services) are still mostly unsustainable in terms of cost and environmental footprint. While environmental scientists rush to come up with socially-engineered environmental friendly solutions to current eco-dilemmas, the business world scrambles in parallel to better control and manage their accountability to the environment and the communities in which they transact business.

The good news for enterprises is that going green — being an environmentally sustainable business —can be profitable. With green intelligence, companies can better control and cut material waste in manufacturing cycles and reduce excess packaging used for consumer or client-facing merchandise; they can better control consumption of environmental and human resources used in the production of goods, thus preserving capital and saving money. In addition, Green BI offers businesses a new frontier in the dogged pursuit of better productivity and cost savings by addressing and leveraging new and previously untapped (environmental) areas of opportunity and interest. A Green BI practice does not have to be a cost center like so many other regulatory-centered business units or compliance initiatives. Executives are finally starting to catch on that this whole Green BI thing is not another revenue-gobbling vortex, but a means to unlock certain information that was not transparent before - information that will help them save money and not spend it.

Green BI is aimed at empowering organizations with new detailed eco-knowledge and corresponding indicators of performance, where companies are armed with relevant information that will greatly assist them in their mission to be more environmentally friendly. When implemented correctly, sustainability and environmental footprint factors will be tracked and measured by a dashboard which has been seeded with data that can drive and influence sustainable behavior both internal and external to the corporation’s immediate locus of control. In the some cases companies can enforce and encourage green behavior (leading by example) with their customers, motivating them to be environmentally conscious through various incentives or innovative ways for the consumer to utilize their goods throughout the product usage lifecycle—from procurement to obsolescence—with recycling being the end goal. Green BI encourages innovation in how a company conducts business internally and interfaces with the rest of the world that exists outside its corporate boundaries. It will become an essential component of corporate governance, helping companies achieve the important status that comes with being recognized and perceived as being a good corporate citizen in the public’s eyes.

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