Every single day organizations need to take numerous decisions, be it at strategic, operative, or administrative level. Each one of these decisions produces an impact; and in the digital era well-informed decision making is a key differentiating factor.
Corporate intelligence has become a key tool in this era of Big Data. The question is, how can business intelligence help include sustainability and minimize risks in the region’s development projects?
We define corporate intelligence or business intelligence (BI) as the use of strategies and technologies to transform information into knowledge, thus assisting decision making and gaining competitive advantages. In other words, BI is the ability to transform data into information and information into knowledge, thereby improving the decision-making process.
To this end, BI combines internal information from the organization with external information. This establishes a link with Big Data, due to the massive amounts of data currently available from different sources and in different formats.
In addition, the search for transparency and permanent improvements has paved the way for open source solutions, enabling a greater degree of development by providing full accessibility to data.
BI also helps manage the extra financial risks that could affect a borrower’s or a financing project’s creditworthiness. But mostly, nowadays it constitutes a vital tool to satisfy society’s demand for development projects that go hand in hand with environmental and social sustainability.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has in place robust social and environmental protection policies that must be followed before approving financing to a project. Additionally, it recently launched a social and environmental standards upgrade to make them conform to the region’s new context and challenges. In 2015 the IDB undertook a commitment to increase the number of projects aimed at mitigating climate change, which in that year accounted for 16 percent of its portfolio. By 2019, they reached 30 percent of the Bank’s financing, with a firm commitment to continue to raise them.
This is where BI comes into play, providing a key opportunity for adequate project development and the efficient use of resources, utilizing data as a source for fostering knowledge-based technological solutions to challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, water scarcity, resilient infrastructure, and overpopulation of cities. As environmental and social challenges become more and more central for the development strategy of organizations, they require new tactics to attract investments into emerging markets.
For example, a number of precision agriculture proposals are being considered throughout Latin America that involve the internet of things, artificial intelligence and BI aimed at transforming agriculture into real-time data-based science. These options focus on gathering, processing and analyzing huge amounts of environmental and crop data and combining them with knowledge and farming practices to bring about solutions that promote sustainable production.
As we can see, the ability to assess performance and have a strategic view of the behavior of the operation while at the same time ensuring the environmental and social sustainability of projects is absolutely crucial if the goal is to improve processes and differentiate them from those projects that have not yet adopted BI tools.
At the IDB’s Environmental and Social Safeguards Unit, we constantly evaluate the unique opportunities that new technologies offer for the development of sustainable projects in the region. Like Sir Francis Bacon said, “Knowledge is power.” Although these days, real power lies in the ability to comprehend information, as we are all rich in terms of data, but not in terms of information.