09 Dec 2021

Aqilla: Record, Analyse, Measure and Adapt: How Data and Intelligent Software Can Shape a Greener Economy

COVID-19 and those infamous lockdown press conferences (next slide please) have brought home the importance of data in understanding and responding to an unprecedented global threat. It also illustrated the vital role that data plays in measuring how government policy and changes in public behaviour helped turn the tide of the pandemic.  

Climate change is arguably a bigger potential disaster for humanity than COVID-19. But the same kind of data analysis can help us here too. IoT devices have given us an abundance of sensors that can track everything from heat to fuel consumption — and led to the creation of smart buildings that are kinder to the environment. At the same time, technology has afforded businesses an incredible opportunity to collect that data and use it to assess how their operations impact the environment. From there, they can set benchmarks and targets, and share their progress with customers and stakeholders.  

While this kind of multi-source data analysis has been possible for some time, it has, until recently been very difficult and time-consuming to interpret. Consequently, it can get neglected when pressures are piled on already stretched staff. Many finance professionals, for example, still struggle to draft and present end-of-month board reports on time. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), however, have changed this. APIs allow data from multiple sources to be imported, analysed, and visualised by a single software platform. Thanks to APIs, data collection and data analysis are now firmly decoupled. And thanks to the power and intelligence of modern analytical software, it’s easier to interpret and present the findings — and then take the necessary action. 

It’s critical to give businesses the chance to review environmental policy impact data on the same dashboard as more traditional financial metrics. Seeing metrics such as electricity consumption and distances driven by company vehicles alongside sales forecasts, profits, and turnover helps businesses shape and maintain positive, greener policies. These dashboards create a barometer of environmental awareness across the company. Indeed, they are a practical way to measure how successfully green policies are being adopted and implemented on a day-to-day basis. 

The requirement for Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting is growing in the US — especially amongst listed organisations. And, over the next few years, we’d suggest ESG reporting (or similar) will become the norm across Europe’s biggest economies too. We’d predict that the demand will initially be driven by consumers and market forces, but ultimately written into law. As such, easy access to powerful data analysis, supported by automated and intelligent software, will be an essential way for companies to demonstrate that they are taking practical steps to become greener organisations.

We believe legislation is vital in this area. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), for example, is still a voluntary initiative rather than a legal mandate in most countries. But the stakes are too high for similar environmentally driven initiatives to be treated in the same way. In fact, we’d go further and say that there’s a case for climate protection laws to mirror data protection laws — insofar as they’re enforceable with fines, custodial sentences, and the same fear of reputational damage. Otherwise, the revolutionary data analysis technology that has the potential to help corporates improve their environmental posture will not be used to full effect or implemented at the pace necessary to have a positive effect on our planet.

This article was written by Hugh Scantlebury, Founder & CEO, Aqilla. To learn more about this author, please visit his LinkedIN.

Aqilla is a mid-market, “designed for Cloud”, Accounting / Postmodern ERP solution that sits above the well-known entry-level SME products such as Xero, Quickbooks and Sage. It has the capabilities of products like SunSystems (Infor FMS), SAP Business One, Netsuite, Microsoft Dynamics, Intacct and many others but at a fraction of the complexity and cost.

To learn more about Aqilla, please visit their LinkedIN and Twitter.

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