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Sustainability reporting requirements are tightening globally – but they also vary dramatically. Despite the importance of adhering to reporting regulations, sustainability measuring, monitoring, and reporting remain heavily manual processes that consume far too much of enterprise sustainability teams’ time; to address this, technology and services firms are developing solutions to integrate carbon (and broader sustainability metrics) accounting and reporting – bringing data together in one place that can facilitate reporting, but also operating and strategic decision making.
Salesforce Sustainability Cloud is one solution aiming to help enterprise leaders track, report, and make decisions based on sustainability data. Sustainability Cloud started as an internal project – Salesforce wanted to make its own carbon emissions data tracking and reporting more efficient, so it built a solution on its platform – and now it forms a leading part of the expanding sustainability services and technology ecosystem – where Salesforce fits in as a technology partner to many of the advanced system integrators (SIs) and advisors. Creating “a single source of truth for sustainability” is a goal that cuts across many sustainability service and technology providers – that are developing solutions combining consulting, technology, implementation, and managed services – which will feature heavily in our ongoing ecosystem mapping study.
Emissions and broader sustainability information is often dispersed across spreadsheets and different departments – with the necessary data lying under multiple members of the c-suite. The objectives and performance metrics of board members and c-level executives are beginning to include sustainability – and reporting requirements are a core part of that; when performance (and a potential bonus) is judged on sustainability metrics – across environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors – no wonder so many senior leaders are looking at their manual, non-standardized data collection processes and sweating.
Data is of course key – as is integrating measuring, visualization, reporting, and decision-making day-to-day and on bigger strategic fronts. Connectivity into company systems and operations – for example integrating internet of things (IoT) devices and data, analytics capabilities, and various other devices, systems, and technologies – creates a complete picture and decision-making aid. As well as training client teams to talk climate change, Salesforce has dedicated specialists in the technology and how to customize and modify it – to engage with business-specific problems – in collaboration with its go-to-market partners – and integrate sustainability and business goals.
In combination with its partners, which can customize Sustainability Cloud depending on the industry, regional, or company-specific requirements, Salesforce is focusing on scale and what is broadly applicable. Sustainability Cloud works with existing and new Salesforce customers – but the immediate opportunity will be in existing accounts. However, from our conversations, there is excitement throughout Salesforce and its partners about new business potential – once trust is established around the business case for sustainability. A business outcomes focus – which is critical for moving beyond the mindset that sustainability is a costly “nice-to-have” and towards a win-win view – comes through these partners including advisory and SI firms – tying together sustainability’s link with business value whether it’s energy or resource efficiency, transparency and governance, circular economy principles, or customer engagement.