Sustainability data management software is following a wave 1/wave 2 evolutionary path that is similar to that of other new enterprise software solution categories such as business intelligence and CRM.
Solutions in the first wave win the early adoption of many customers, but the complexity and total cost limit the number of organizations able to successfully follow suit. Wave 2 brings more accessible solutions, such as software-as-a-service versions (think Salesforce.com) that address a larger emerging market in need of cost-effective and easy yet powerfully useful software.
As a co-founder of Scope 5, I can (surprise) cite an example of this phenomenon that is just beginning to unfold. Scope 5’s customers are helping us build the second wave of the sustainability data management software market. They are looking for improved reporting and operational efficiencies that ultimately benefit cost savings, revenue, and risk mitigation. And they are finding wave 1 solutions to be “too much” as well as too inflexible.
On that last point, adaptability is a necessary characteristic to look for in wave 2 solutions. As with other wave 2 markets, the requirements of organizational sustainability programs are evolving rapidly. It’s impossible for most organizations to forecast what changes to their sustainability strategy or tactics they will be motivated to make over the next 12, 18, or 24 months. For that matter, the increasingly ambiguous term “sustainability” could very well be replaced in the not-too-distant future.