Microsoft, the American multinational technology corporation, has announced further ESG innovations and sustainability plans for the future. In June 2022, the company launched its Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability with a commitment to help its customers create their own operational efficiencies to reduce their ecological impact.
Now Microsoft is honing its sustainability strategy by enhancing its cloud-based Sustainability Manager following the EU introduction of more rigorous sustainability reporting standards. The new software tools are specifically responding to the requirements of the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and the Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS).
How Microsoft will help businesses adhere to reporting directives and standards
These standards come into effect in the next two years, and to comply, businesses must collect and manage data for all categories of emissions across their supply chains and operations. This includes 15 scope 3 categories, in particular. Microsoft launched capabilities to help businesses enhance the collection of environmental, social, and governance data to address these new reporting requirements.
Additionally, they have offered prebuilt ESG reporting templates that help clients organise and keep track of their supporting documentation for various ESG regulatory reporting standards. Microsoft will also be extending this to other regulations as they are implemented and defined by governing bodies.
The Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability customers currently has Scope 1 and 2 calculating capabilities but will now be able to calculate all 15 categories of Scope 3 carbon emissions across their value chain and enterprise. Customers will also be able to load their own factor libraries to tailor calculations to suit business needs and input precalculated emissions across all emissions and Scope categories. This will enable them to maintain consistent emissions calculations and reporting over a duration.
Creating additional tools and resources to help businesses become sustainable
The data model initially focused on the need to address carbon emissions but it has since adapted to include water and waste. These models centralise data to help in streamlining data ingestion, sharing, calculations, and of course, reporting. Microsoft is also introducing Project ESG Lake. The project will allow businesses to centralise and standardise data in a comprehensive ESG data estate. Alike its other data management solutions, Project ESG Lake is an industry data platform, that enables customers, partners, and independent software vendors to perform analytics and build custom apps to meet their specific industry objectives.
Microsoft will also leverage Microsoft Fabric which will allow for the analysis, definition, scoring, training, and prediction of emissions. The company also has another AI-Based capability in the works called the ‘what-if analysis’. Through this, partners and customers will be able to use data from external sources through the data model and Project ESG Lake to capture forecasts and insights relating to their environmental goals.
A retail business, for example, can search for a new manufacturing plant based on energy sources or evaluate waste projections and material emissions based on long-term recyclability and durability. This analysis will see organisations be able to improve operational and supply chain sustainability. Sustainability Managers, Procurement Officers, and other users will find these capabilities particularly useful to fine-tuning decisions to spur further reductions and greater positive impact.
It’s inspiring to see a large company like Microsoft not only advancing its own sustainability but also fostering ESG innovations that aid customers in striving towards environmental sustainability. Reporting continues to be a daunting task for enterprises so we expect these solutions will be greatly experienced by the business community.