Information Systems for Environmental Sustainability

IT, Resource Productivity, Environmental Preservation, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Q: Who’s Responsible for Enterprise Carbon Management?

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A: IT Organizations (from an anonymous analyst at the IBM Eco Jam)

Forrester’s research on energy & carbon management systems predicts that IT organizations will take on a central role in choosing, owning, and operating these systems. The challenge of managing energy & carbon emissions will increasingly be information-related, and it’s enterprise IT organizations that have the expertise to install and operate software systems of record across the entire company. Just like systems for managing customers (CRM), money, materials (ERP), and employees, carbon & energy management systems will collect, integrate, analyze, and report on the newest set of assets/liabilities that will be used by internal and external stakeholders to judge corporate performance.

B: Energy Manager (Tom Raftery, article here)

So if not IT, who then should run these systems? I foresee the rise of a new role – the Energy manager, in companies. The Energy manager will likely report to the CFO, the COO or the CSO (Chief Sustainability Officer). The energy manager’s role will be to minimise the company’s energy (& probably water) footprint and to report savings in monetary, kWh and tons CO2.

My point of view is that developing and implementing an effective carbon management system is an example of organizational innovation – the introduction of new IT-enabled practices and processes that add value. Business units, sustainability groups, and IT will need to combine forces to tackle the many dimensions of complexity. As with other types of enterprise systems (ERP, CRM, etc.), success will result from collaboration in setting goals, allocating resources, assessing risk, calculating benefits and costs, and re-using resulting data for new sources of value.

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Author: nigelpm

Associate Professor of Information Systems, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan - Helping organizations to navigate digital transformation.

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