15 Oct 19

4 key insights from the Greenstone Client Conference 2019

Greenstone Client ConferenceGreenstone recently held its annual Client Conference. This years’ event was hosted by Greenstone client Royal Mail Group at the Phoenix Conference Centre in London, UK.

The Client Conference is an opportunity for Greenstone’s clients to meet other sustainability, EHS and ESG reporting professionals and the wider Greenstone team to discuss, learn and network.

Throughout the morning, there were presentations from some of Greenstone’s clients including Royal Mail, Associated British Ports, Sopra Steria and Barclays, which highlighted company achievements and discussed experiences of using Greenstone’s software. The agenda also covered topics and themes on global trends in corporate reporting including Science-based targets (SBTs), the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and ESG investing.

In this blog, we have identified four key insights from the event:

1. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - organisations are moving beyond alignment 

The SDGs continue to be a great tool for companies to set and achieve their sustainability goals. This year, we have seen a growing trend of companies moving beyond simply mapping and aligning the SDGs in their reporting and taking a deeper dive, looking at the targets that sit beneath each SDG. This is certainly apparent across Greenstone’s client base.

There are 169 targets across the 17 SDGs and each target has between 1 and 3 indicators used to measure progress toward reaching the targets. Organisations are beginning to revise their overall targets and sustainability goals, moving away from just setting classic carbon reduction targets and developing sustainability targets that specifically align with the SDG targets, in addition.  

2. Confidence in data - sustainability software is integral to  when monitoring progress against targets 

From working with our clients throughout the year, it is clear that every company encounters their own challenges when implementing their sustainability strategy and setting targets and goals. At the conference, some of our clients described these challenges and explained how Greenstone’s sustainability software has helped in overcoming these.

One particular organisation spoke of their initial struggle with encouraging staff to move from beloved spreadsheets to software for the calculation and tracking of their environmental data. They felt that this process was made easier though the ‘approval’ function within the software, which gives users a different kind of ownership over their data. Once the team were on board with the software they had confidence in their data and could track, monitor and assess progress against targets at any granular level which they simply couldn’t do before the adoption of software. This change in reporting has allowed staff to spend more time focusing on analysing quality data and achieving targets, rather than grappling with error prone spreadsheets.

3. ESG reporting - becoming essential within the investor community

Another insight identified at the conference is that Environmental Sustainability and Governance (ESG) reporting is becoming increasingly important in the investor community. It has been found that investors are looking at incorporating ESG data into investment decisions, however are faced with many challenges when it comes to gathering, maintaining and analysing data. Currently, there are a range of ESG frameworks and metrics on offer which creates confusion alongside a mass of incomparable and inconsistent data. The use of spreadsheets to present this data means there are frequent errors which makes it harder for investors to build a sustainable and long-term strategy.

In response to these challenges, Greenstone launched its newest software solution InvestorPortal earlier this year. InvestorPortal enables ESG reporting across investments, portfolios and funds. The software contains a fully mapped ESG content library to help investors collect, manage and analyse a company’s ESG data. Additionally, the software facilitates the creation of bespoke ESG questionnaires, and collects GHG emissions data in order to manage and assess risks.


4 . Technology - responding to the ever-evolving technology space is vital 

Another area in which Greenstone can see a range of global trends is within Technology. David Golding (Greenstone’s Head of Software Development) spoke about emerging trends in the industry and how Greenstone has responded with developments to its software and technology.

As our clients expand globally and the interest in XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) increases, Greenstone’s development team have implemented multilingual applications and data stores while working closely with partners on emerging XBRL global reporting standards. Alongside this, we have initiated projects that investigate and prepare for regional data centers as well as determining new global frameworks and standards.

Another topic that David touched on was integration. The sustainability software space is now viewed as a mature software environment and with this comes the expectation of seamless integration with other systems.  Over the past year, Greenstone has improved its SFTP integration capability to ensure it can cater for multiple integration feeds. It has also launched an updated single sign on service with SAML 2.0.

Lastly, we have found that Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a service is becoming more mainstream. As machine learning, data mining and cognitive services develop, we know that AI could help us understand our data better. In order to prepare for this Greenstone have some research and development projects running which look at data preparation, quality, relationships and identifying patterns, and signal data inputs.


In summary

A common theme throughout the day was collaboration, the way that Greenstone collaborates in partnership with its clients, but also the way in which organisations are open and willing to share and collaborate with peers and other organisations.  Being a Greenstone client means you are part of an innovation ecosystem where everyone collectively benefits from continuous software development and innovation. This was very apparent throughout the whole event.

If you were not able to attend it or would like to hear more about the event, please get in touch.


Sustainability software demo - Greenstone Awards 2019