So, the next question is how your data is going to support that ESG strategy as it evolves. ESG isn’t a box you can tick and move on from: it’s a continuously changing set of demands and actions, and your data will need to guide, support and drive those actions if you’re going to spark any meaningful change.
At Amplifi, we’ve helped organisations at various different stages of their ESG journey, and we know that if you want to make any ESG-related initiative a success, you need to start thinking data-first.
What is a data-first approach to ESG?
Before we answer what it means to think ‘data-first’, we’re going to explain the alternative: a reporting-first approach. This is where an organisation starts with the data requirements of a specific report and works backwards, collecting and preparing data to fulfil the needs of that report.
For example, Scope 3 regulations now require businesses to accurately report on their carbon emissions. A reporting-first approach to data would see an organisation look at what is required for the report and work backwards to make the right data available and reliable to facilitate it.
Which is fine – until the remit changes. Perhaps the parameters of the reporting are broadened to include more data sources. Maybe there’s a new regulation that requires you to track your business’ contribution to water stress. Either way, all of that hard work put into the original data structure needs to be started again, from scratch – tackling Data Quality, Data Governance and analysis on a whole new cross-section of data, with a whole new goal in mind. It can work, but it isn’t ideal – not only because of the additional work required for every new initiative, but because it makes it much easier to miss information, and much harder to see the bigger ESG picture.
A data-first approach flips this process on its head. Rather than preparing your data for a specific ESG initiative, you tackle your organisation’s relationship with data. Instead of focussing on specific data requirements, you introduce methods of ensuring that any data used or handled by the business meets the same quality and availability criteria.
If you tackle ESG as a reporting issue, you will always be on the back foot. If you take a data-first approach, you will be able to react quickly to new ESG demands on your data. It’s ESG, Amplified: building a foundation that makes your data ready and reliable, whenever and wherever it’s needed.