Three steps toward fighting climate change with data and digital
If the solutions to climate change lie in combining data, digital technologies, people, and process, how can companies accelerate real action on the climate agenda?
At Genpact, we spend our time helping complex organizations achieve their transformation goals. And our experience has taught us there are three key steps to applying data and technology to big problems:
1. Establish a foundation of data
All too often, data is dark, discontinuous, and disconnected. And never more so than on the climate agenda. In part, this comes down to a lack of consensus on what should be measured and reported. It also reflects a lack of measurement overall – the BCG survey found that only 9% of companies can measure their carbon emissions comprehensively. And even then, most companies admit an average error rate of 30-40%.
To start, organizations need to get the infrastructure in place by building data lakes in the cloud so they can tap into their existing data, integrate external sources, and drive better decision-making. Advanced analytics is key. Automating processes adds the speed needed (and reduces paper use too). The bottom line is that without the right data infrastructure, companies will struggle to create a baseline that will enable them to predict, model, or act on their sustainability goals.
2. Turn that data into insights
When faced with a needle-in-a-haystack challenge, data-driven insights help provide answers. This is about having the right data and analytics technologies, including ML, AI, and natural language understanding, supported by the right capabilities, to drive business-centric insights.
Essentially, ML and AI can extract and harmonize data when companies are faced with semantic incongruity. Analytics models can then predict likely outcomes. Data on its own does not uncover answers. But by bringing data-led insights together with the people who understand the business, industry, and processes so they can apply their skills and judgment, they can make data-driven decisions on what action to take for the good of the organization, its employees, customers, and the world.
For example, if employees have access to the carbon impact of different travel options, they can make the right decisions when bookings tickets. These data-led micro-decisions are more effective than broad-sweeping company mandates or policies.
3. Invest in change management and the user experience
In large transformation programs, the biggest challenge isn't the technology or the project management, it's making the change stick.
Again, breaking massive change into actionable, bite-sized chunks allows you to take a more agile approach. It also means rethinking and redesigning existing processes and models around the employee and user experience. And yet, when it comes to climate goals, few companies or countries seem to place enough focus on creating the right conditions for change. And that is stalling progress for the very people tasked with delivering on the agenda.
To use the previous example, nudging individual employees with insights on the environmental impact their travel choices will have puts the onus on the user and drives change more effectively.