Capgemini: Managing Sustainability Data – Peter Walsh

Corporate sustainability is now a significant boardroom issue, with organisations increasingly recognising the importance of having an embedded, managed sustainability strategy. Capgemini's head of BPO sustainability, Peter Walsh, explains how the company's partnership with CA Technologies is meeting the market's demands head on.

Sustainability is increasingly becoming a business priority and a competitive objective for firms globally. It is being discussed frequently at the very top of large organisations in response to demands for a more responsible approach to business by clients, shareholders, the general public, non-governmental organisations, and national and EU legislation. "Traditionally, sustainability has only been a concern for those working in that field," says Peter Walsh, head of BPO sustainability at Capgemini. "Now, sustainability programmes have become a key issue for companies, coming into their boardrooms driven by the CEOs and senior executives."

Historically, spreadsheets were used to collect and manage data, but Capgemini believes that a new solution is required due to the increasing complexity of data requirements. "Companies are running a great risk if they continue to manage their sustainability data in the traditional way, given the sort of pressures that they are now faced with," warns Walsh.

"Spreadsheet-based approaches lack data controls, there are multiple standards across the world, numerous processes or sometimes no agreed processes at all for data collection, and there are different formats and regulatory regimes in different countries - all that is providing a highly inefficient and unreliable data flow."

Organisations are also being increasingly held accountable for their management of energy, water and waste. Walsh explains that companies that do not adopt sustainable development principles are damaging their businesses.  "The consequences are that the company delivers a poor, sub-optimal sustainability performance, with increased risk of compliance failure, along with potential impact on the company's reputation and brand," he notes. "We've all seen the fallout that can result from companies that don't meet stakeholders' expectations in terms of sustainability performance.

If a company is not optimising the way it's handling energy, water and raw materials, then it's not optimising its business. Effective sustainability management can deliver enormous benefits, through energy and resource savings, operational efficiency, market positioning and, ultimately, shareholder value. These are too important to be managed through manual, spreadsheet-based processes.

"Data collection has been poor, and the processes and systems have previously not been anywhere near the level of rigour and reliability that is needed, given the strategic importance sustainability has attained. Companies are experiencing increased security and performance pressure, but do not have data management and reporting tools in place to respond effectively. That's the gap that our BPO sustainability solution fills."

Partnered for success

Capgemini recently joined forces with CA Technologies, an IT management software and solutions company. The partnership unites Capgemini's BPO unit and CA Technologies' leading CA ecoSoftware solution, which helps clients to better manage complex sustainability data collection and increasingly challenging reporting demands.

"We reviewed the market to identify the best software platform that was available in this area," says Walsh. "CA Technologies' ecoSoftware solution was by far the most comprehensive and reliable system available. We chose them due to the technical strength of their organisation and because the software itself was a leading solution that provides a comprehensive and rigorous answer to data management. In addition, it offers a solution in an on-demand mode, a cloud computing solution - they are hosting it and providing an excellent standard of technical support and system availability."

Capgemini believes that customers benefit from this alliance as it meets the needs and scale of its global enterprise clients, and delivers an informed view of their sustainability performance. "By combining these capabilities in a bundled service, the client gains access to BPO services, sustainability expertise and the technology platform, all within the one contact for one agreed price," Walsh adds. "We've wrapped up all of the required elements into one integrated service."

Proven progress

Internally, Capgemini UK is already using this new BPO service to manage its energy and sustainability data. "We're also looking to roll this out in other geographies," says Walsh. "The experience of Capgemini UK is that it has improved reliability, reduced costs and given our managers greater control over their sustainability management programmes. It has also enabled the very significant data processing transactions to be moved into a back-office function and the operational and management personnel are free to focus on their strategic issues."

Walsh believes that the benefits of Capgemini's BPO sustainability service are plentiful. "Typically, sustainability programmes can reduce costs and deliver business advantages," he concludes. "The rewards clearly point to dropping the spreadsheets and moving to an integrated sustainability management system."