How to Use Business Intelligence to Support Strategic Sustainability

Actian Corporation

March 13, 2024

An analyst researching ESG strategies for sustainability

In our modern business world, where new trends, demands, and innovation can happen at lightning-fast speed, sustainability has become a top focus for executives and customers. In response, forward-thinking organizations are looking for ways to minimize their global impact, reduce carbon emissions, and implement sustainability best practices to optimize efficiency without sacrificing profitability.

As noted in Harvard Business Review (HBR), consumers are viewing sustainability as a baseline requirement when making purchases. “Our research suggests we’re on the brink of a major shift in consumption patterns, where truly sustainable brands—those that make good on their promises to people and the planet—will seize the advantage from brands that make flimsy claims or that have not invested sufficiently in sustainability.”

One effective approach for strategically supporting and measuring sustainability, including environmental, social, and governance (ESG) efforts, is to use business intelligence (BI). BI is a trusted, powerful, and proven process that transforms data into actionable insights to enable confident and informed decision-making. The insights can be applied to sustainability goals.

The Crucial Role of BI in Improving Sustainability

BI can play a pivotal role in your sustainability efforts by analyzing data related to resource usage, energy consumption, and waste across business operations, supply chains, manufacturing processes, product design and lifecycle, and other areas. BI insights can uncover patterns such as spikes in energy usage, areas most prone to waste, or process inefficiencies that create barriers to achieving sustainability goals.

The power of BI stems from its ability to perform analytics on large volumes of data from a variety of sources. This capability enables you to monitor and report on sustainability efforts while identifying areas where you can improve processes to reduce your environmental impact.

For example, a manufacturer using BI can determine that a specific process run at a certain time of the day is causing the company to consume significantly more energy. The process could potentially be altered to improve efficiency, lowering energy usage. Another example is in the transportation and logistics industry. These companies can use real-time BI to optimize their deliveries based on traffic, weather, and other factors for the fastest route possible, which can reduce carbon emissions and use less energy.

When BI is used in conjunction with data visualization tools, the insights are put into charts, graphs, or maps. This makes the insights easy to understand, even for people without a technical or analytical background. You can look at data about your organization’s waste, for example, to find out at a glance where there are opportunities for recycling or waste reduction.

BI Demands Efficient Data Management Processes

One common challenge many organizations face when leveraging BI for sustainability, or for any other use case, is managing the expansive data sets that are available. Data management is a necessity for any BI or analytics project, but many organizations lack this essential capability. It can be due to a lack of scalability, an inability to easily add data pipelines, outdated integration tools that can’t easily ingest and share data, or information stuck in silos. This limits the data that can be used for BI, which in turn can lead to inaccurate or incomplete insights.

That’s why you need modern data processing and BI capabilities. You also need to ensure that your data is accurate, reliable, and trusted in order to have full confidence in the results. A modern data management strategy is required for effective BI. The strategy should equip your organization to handle the volume, variety, and velocity of data and make it accessible and available for BI.

Data management best practices also include cleansing, enriching, and aggregating data to ensure it has the quality you need. You must also determine if your BI requires real-time or near real-time data and if so, have a platform in place to deliver data at the speed you need. Data management, BI, and sustainability are intertwined—data management provides data quality and accessibility, while BI turns the data into strategic insights to inform and refine sustainable strategies.

BI is a Key Enabler for the Future of Sustainability

If your organization is placing an increasing focus on sustainability, you’ll realize the value of BI to help with these efforts. The power of BI and the evolution of BI technology will help you better anticipate resource needs, have the insights needed to proactively minimize your environmental impact, and forecast trends that could affect sustainability. You’ll also have the insights needed to align your business goals with ESG objectives.

BI is a powerful tool in your arsenal to implement and continually improve sustainability practices. With detailed and accurate data analysis, along with the ability to drill down into issues for granular details, you can identify new opportunities to drive efficiencies, make better use of your resources, and take meaningful actions that reduce your environmental footprint.

Moving forward, integrating BI processes into business sustainability strategies will become more common and sophisticated—and more necessary. BI is positioned to play an essential role in enabling data-driven decisions that promote ESG without compromising business performance. In fact, BI can help you strike an acceptable balance that encourages growth for both sustainability and the business.

Managing data and embracing BI are two steps needed to become more sustainable in our increasingly eco-conscious world. Likewise, data and BI can be instrumental in identifying areas that can benefit from increased efficiencies, pinpointing resources that are being underutilized, and determining where sustainability efforts can make the most impact.

Actian Offers the Ideal Platform to Support Sustainability

With consumers, business partners, and business stakeholders placing a strong emphasis on sustainability and ESG responsibility, BI stands out as a proven tool to guide you toward sustainable practices while also boosting the bottom line. Actian can help you integrate and manage your data for BI and analytics.

Our high-performance technologies can bring together large volumes of data for analysis. We can integrate data from various sources, including internet of things (IoT) devices, supply chains, manufacturing processes, and energy metrics for a comprehensive view of your ESG posture.

The scalable Actian Data Platform makes data easy to integrate, manage, and analyze to support your sustainability goals, regardless of the size or complexity of your data sets. You can also use the platform for predictive modeling to determine how proposed process changes will affect sustainability.

At Actian, we’re committed to data-driven sustainability and encourage our customers to also use data to make a positive environmental impact.

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About Actian Corporation

Actian is helping businesses build a bridge to a data-defined future. We’re doing this by delivering scalable cloud technologies while protecting customers’ investments in existing platforms. Our patented technology has enabled us to maintain a 10-20X performance edge against competitors large and small in the mission-critical data management market. The most data-intensive enterprises in financial services, retail, telecommunications, media, healthcare and manufacturing trust Actian to solve their toughest data challenges.