3 ways tech can green and gleam your business bottom line

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IT Matters

Soni Lampert is principal and CEO of KLH Consulting Inc. Vintegrate Winery Software in Santa Rosa.

Read past editions of IT Matters at nbbj.news/itmatters.

A number of years ago through a “green your MBA” sustainability program offered by Dominican University of California, I was introduced to the concept of the triple bottom line (TBL).

The triple bottom line is an accounting construct that takes into account three parts: social, environmental and financial performance of a business. The notion being that a triple bottom line will drive greater and more sustainable business value, while simultaneously improving social equity and sustaining the environment.

The TBL evaluates performance in terms of people, planet and profit. Whether a business manages to a TBL or is simply looking for ways to be more fair, greener and to improve profits, technology can positively impact these three areas.

People

The broad availability of the internet and related access to information has been transformative. Near immediate access to what is happening around the globe has created a magnifying glass through which we view social equity in our culture. Social media connects us to broad networks of people and resources, communicating information and opinions 24/7.

In the workplace, providing equal access to opportunities, transparency and fair treatment are all impacted by the technology used by the company.

Such technology might include:

• Use of online recruiting sites to provide widespread advertising of employment opportunities allows companies to benefit from larger applicant pools and provides individuals with greater access to jobs. These sites assist employers with matching job description requirements with candidate skill and work history without regard to an individual’s race, sex, sexual orientation or age. Transparency is improved as jobseekers can evaluate multiple companies’ job descriptions for comparable positions.

Human resources technology platforms provide comparative tools that can be used by the organization to measure, compare and assure equitable pay within roles. These systems track and manage information useful to the employee and employer pertaining to performance and advancement. These platforms also often provide access to benefits information and options.

HR solutions integrated with payroll and financial accounting provide tools to measure performance; easily evaluate salary structures across positions and geography; provide employees with better information pertaining to benefits, and track and reward volunteerism.

Online learning tools can be offered by the company to provide equal opportunity for employees to grow skill sets needed for advancement.

• Use of LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter provide open forums for discussion of business issues, elevating them to levels of visibility sufficient to impact public policy and to effect change.

Planet

Businesses impact the environment in complex and myriad ways — resource use and reuse, externalization of costs of production, use of fossil fuels to produce and distribute goods, consumption of limited resources that may or may not be renewable, and by-products of conducting business that have a potential to pollute or destroy ecosystems. There are many exciting advancements, such as the use of robotics and artificial intelligence that continue to propel manufacturing innovations.

Often these require significant retooling and process improvement work, prior to realizing the considerable business value.

There are, however, many commonly available business technologies that can be used to better measure and manage the environmental impact of activities and to comply with regulatory agencies.

Data aggregation platforms and business intelligence tools allow us to capture information from many sources and then display it in visual dashboards to make it easily accessible for decision-making.

IT Matters

Soni Lampert is principal and CEO of KLH Consulting Inc. Vintegrate Winery Software in Santa Rosa.

Read past editions of IT Matters at nbbj.news/itmatters.

For example, gathering and analysis of data from operations in wine businesses helps to track use of pesticides and fungicides in the vineyard against outcomes in order to minimize the use of these elements and the labor required for their application. Likewise, water usage in production is tracked and compared across various winemaking options such as barrel aging versus use of staves, etc. This information is compared for alternative treatment options and reuse scenarios are developed to minimize environmental impact while often lowering cost.

Mobile devices can be used in most places. These handheld computing devices make it easy to capture resource use when and where it occurs, whether it be in a vineyard, or on the manufacturing floor. By including in-process capture of resource use, it becomes easier to comply with regulatory requirements for reporting and a more accurate representation of resource usage is attained.

Use of fossil fuel continues to be a leading environmental concern. Technology is enabling employers to offer work-at-home options for some positions, improving employee experience while also minimizing the environmental impacts associated with commuting and ancillary costs. Video conferencing, use of mobile devices, messaging, screen sharing and shared access to files for collaboration all improve access to information and opportunity throughout the organization, while enabling employees, employers, customers, and other stakeholders to work together while limiting travel.

Profit

A key tenet of a TBL is that profit can be maintained and enhanced by operating in ways that promote social equity and environmental sustainability. The technologies we use in our day-to-day operations are often adopted by business because they directly improve either profitability or an organization’s ability to measure and manage the profit structure.

Enterprise resource planning applications are used to plan and manage all aspects of the business, manufacturing through sales, compliance and regulatory reporting. With a high degree of precision, the business can capture the types of information referenced above, evaluate best options to reduce use, improve sustainability and simultaneously lower production costs.

Data visualization tools put key performance indicators in visual formats to give executive management real-time information to evaluate and manage business performance. Dashboards can be created to assist the management team in navigating operating decisions in ways that improve the TBL.

As we recognize the significance and critical role that our businesses have on the local and global stage, technology can improve the triple bottom line. Technology is impactful and critical in addressing issues of fairness and social justice, as well as in tracking and improving our environmental impact on the planet. A fair, sustainable and positive bottom line has never mattered more.

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