The vast amounts of data now available means the traditional sustainability report is fast losing relevance
The days of the sustainability report as we know it may be numbered. The past 20 years has seen corporate social responsibility reports go from box-ticking exercises and PR stunts to an essential tool that enables organisations to consider and communicate their social and environmental impacts.
When the global financial crisis hit, we saw the bar for corporate disclosure standards rise and with it the uptake of integrated reporting, which presented stakeholders with a holistic view of a company's operations and impacts. Integrated reporting merges different pools of information – namely financial, governance, social and environmental sustainability – into one comprehensive document. According to KPMG, close to 60% of the world's largest companies had adopted integrated reporting by 2015.
Enter big data, the apex of advances in data gathering, computing power and connectivity. According to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the most widely used sustainability reporting standard in the world, digitisation is bringing a tsunami of data, presenting an immense potential driver of change.
The use of big data has the capacity to give companies useful insights, very often in real time, to improve sustainability and...