Earlier in January, IDC Manufacturing Insights presented our top 10 2010 predictions for manufacturers, and I briefly introduced my sustainability prediction for manufacturers. Armed with Metrics, Manufacturers Move from Sustainability Reporting to Intelligence.
Increasing numbers of manufacturers are producing corporate reports on their sustainability, publicly disclosing information relevant to the environment, such as greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption or energy saved through efficiency improvements, material substitutions, and the development of new greener products. These reports are also becoming more standardized among companies, for example using the Global Reporting Initiative's G3 guidelines, and more publicly reported, for example through the Carbon Disclosure Project.
But just knowing the current state of sustainability isn't enough. Leading manufacturers want to do more with the information they've collected from their own products, processes, plants, and supply chain. They need to analyze that data and create the type of intelligence that will support the decisions and the tradeoffs necessary to continue improving their environmental footprint. And we think a large number of manufacturers are ready to do the same - to build a feedback loop into how they measure and increase their sustainability, as well as develop a decision making process for future investments.
We call this next step creating sustainability intelligence - applying reporting information to make better decisions about their material selection, sourcing, use of limited resources, product life cycle, supply chain, and more. Companies are showing an increasing willingness to make changes to fundamental business processes, using concepts such as design for sustainability, cradle to cradle, and the green supply chain.
Analytics are going to play an important role in this transition from reporting to intelligence, but we also expect improvements to be made in the input - in data collection, perhaps through the addition of sensors and M2M - as well as improvements to be made in the output - better information sharing to get the information in the hands of people who can make the hundreds of necessary decisions that impact a company's environmental footprint. There's an element of accessibility that's important in this process, perhaps through integrated mobile devices, Web-based access, or even social networking.
All of these changes are going to be in play in 2010, and we expect manufacturers to do the more difficult work necessary to improve their environmental footprint and ease their regulatory burdens.