Data is the new currency of the digital economy. From private sector to government organizations, every entity is tapping into this immensely valuable and abundantly available asset. Because in it, lies the secret to long-term sustainability. By harvesting data, business cost centers can be transformed into profit centers; new opportunities can be captured; risks can be averted, and policies can be improved.
In the current context, another thing that is critical for long-term survival of organizations is sustainability and diversity. Acronyms like ESG and DEI have been hurled to the center of the corporate scene of late, sparking debates and discussions. Sometimes, it has supplied food for thought to business leaders, and other times, it has sparked culture wars. Regardless, in both of these, data plays an outsize role.
Companies have long conducted businesses based on facts and stats, but access to AI has opened up new avenues. It has invented an easy way to reap insights from raw data making navigating the uncertainties and variables of the business world, simpler. And now, it’s possible to marry data from different sources and get actionable business insights to power companies’ ESG and DEI efforts.
We met with a company that is working in the frontlines of ESG, DEI and data analytics at AWS re:Invent. Qlik is an analytics software company that works at the intersection of data and AI. A forerunner in the ESG sphere, Qlik has found a way to save the future of the planet with data.
Reaping Opportunities with Data
Data, when deeply and transparently analyzed, yields wealth of information. It unlocks visibility into a plethora of metrics and parameters. “You can’t manage, what you can’t measure,” says Julie Kae, VP of Sustainability and DE&I.
Let’s explore that for a second. It is already known to anybody who’s not been on a hiatus from the world that DEI and ESG are reshaping the MO of companies, changing the way they have operated thus far. Across industries, companies are joining the scramble to embed these into company policies. Those who are still not onboard are simply going to get left behind, experts say.
“Organizations are really striving to set net-zero targets to achieve the goals of the Paris Accords. We need to get our carbon emissions under control so that we can keep the world from warming to a certain level. The private sector is taking on it with gusto,” she said.
The pursuits of net-zero and DEI begin with true utilization of data. Companies, for example, can make a positive ecological impact by checking their carbon footprints and energy usage, if they have wide-ranging data, or find ways to build inclusive multifunctional teams, if they have company-wide hiring information. Old policies can be tweaked, and new ones can be created to enable better decision-making, be it in ESG, finance or hiring.
Putting DEI and ESG Goals into Action Using Qlik
Like a few of its contemporaries, Qlik embarked on the sustainability journey years ago. With leaderships like Kae powering its efforts and forging a culture of inclusivity, diversity, and sustainability from inside, the company has made colossal accomplishments along the way.
But if you are aware of the industry-wide greenwashing, you may be skeptical and not buy all of it right away. Qlik practices what it preaches. The company leverages its own analytics software to parse data coming from sundry departments like finance, hiring, and ESG to address internal issues. Qlik anonymizes all of that data and shares it externally so that their customers can use it as a template, and apply it to their specific use cases.
Unlike many companies that claim a spot at the table with obligatory participation and lackluster results, Qlik has sustainability at the very core of its value. For years, it has been driving meaningful business outcomes from eco-friendly policies and practices. But more and most, it has dawned a new era for others who do not have the wherewithal to implement the change.
Like other companies, Qlik looks inward to chip away at the change. “We’re looking at our operations, trying to minimize our own carbon footprint as much as possible. Our footprint from air travel for example, or the electricity consumed within our offices,” told Kae.
But to close the gulf between what is and what needs to be, one needs participation of peers. To help customers achieve their sustainability goals and fight global warming collectively, Qlik launched the Qlik analytics software in the cloud.
“Our greatest opportunity to have an impact is with our software, and that’s really inspired a lot of our customers to move their Qlik environments from running on on-prem datacenters which consume a lot of electricity, even when they’re not being used, to the cloud. And running on AWS cloud with the Qlik cloud product is one way in which our customers can reduce their carbon footprint and be much more mindful with regards to the electricity consumed to power their analytical applications,” Kae said.
As part of the larger effort, Qlik has developed an analytics tool which it jointly debuted with the United Nations. This program supports non-profit outfits in their environmental missions.
The application tracks and measures carbon emissions from air travel and helps reduce it through better decision-making.
“There are meeting planners and travel planners built inside the application, and it’s used not only by the sustainability team, but also by the travel team so that when people call to book an air ticket, the travel team is well aware of the environmental data at their fingertips.”
Qlik recognizes the tremendous opportunity that lies in combining organizational data with the broader, external data and creating offerings across lines of business. Earlier, Qlik has worked with the Nature Conservancy Brazil to map out water supply in and around Amazon.
“One of the things that we do at Qlik is support organizations that are working on the front lines to measure and track progress for the global goals with our software. We take back a lot of learnings from that,” said Kae.
Qlik applied data gathered from inside the organization on data from government sources and private sector, and analyzed and figured out where the water supply penetration stood. Similarly, Qlik has contributed to analyzing forest data for US Forest Service to help create sustainable forest practices.
To bring more companies into the fold and fight the good fight, Qlik donates support and software to non-profit organizations that lack the technical knowhow and abilities to harness data the way private sector companies do.
Watch Stephen Foskett in conversation with Julie Kae at AWS re:Invent 2023, or head over to Qlik.com for more info.