Smart Innovators: Corporate ESG & Sustainability Software

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Executive Summary

Over the past few years, investor interest in ESG metrics and financially material sustainability information has dramatically shifted the landscape for business disclosures, risk and performance management. This report provides buyers of software for environment, social and governance (ESG) and sustainability management with a high-level benchmark of the capabilities of 44 software solutions. The rise of ESG investment and lending trends has established new business requirements for corporate ESG and sustainability data management, analytics and workflows. Verdantix analysis finds that seven vendor categories form the building blocks of an ESG information architecture. Superior data access and visibility drive digital technology innovations across four categories: 1) real-time risk analytics, 2) operational ESG programme management, 3) product stewardship, and 4) disclosures and reporting management. Heads of ESG and Sustainability should use this report to inform their future technology adoption roadmaps in 2021 and beyond. 

Table of contents

ESG And Sustainability Data Management Ushers In New Phase Of Growth  
In 2019 Financial Markets Exhibited A Growing Appetite For More And Better ESG Data
During 2020 Financial Market Participants Accelerated Their Push For ESG Disclosures
From 2021 Onwards Firms Will Need To Enhance Their ESG Governance And IT Systems

A New Era For The ESG And Sustainability Software Market  
New Corporate ESG Business Requirements Map To Four Software Capabilities
A Diverse Ecosystem Of Vendors Form The Building Blocks For An Enterprise ESG IT Architecture
Superior Data Access And Visibility Drive Technology Innovations In The ESG And Sustainability Market

Table of figures

Figure 1. Asset Owners Desire ESG Integration For Financial Risk And Opportunity Benefits 
Figure 2. Understanding Green, Social, Sustainability, And Sustainability-Linked Bonds 
Figure 3. ESG & Sustainability Software Capabilities & Definitions 
Figure 4. Seven Categories Of Vendor Backgrounds In ESG Software 
Figure 5. ESG & Sustainability Software Capabilities Assessment (Aggregate) 
Figure 6. ESG & Sustainability Software Capabilities Assessment (Vendors With <100 Employees) 
Figure 7. ESG & Sustainability Software Capabilities Assessment (Vendors With >100 Employees) 

Organisations mentioned

CSRware, Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Urjanet, AB InBev, Accenture, AccountAbility (AA), Accuvio, Adidas, AkzoNobel, Alcumus, alva, Amazon, APlanet, ARCADIS Gen, ArcelorMittal, ArcGIS, Ashcroft, ASM, Assent Compliance, Avetta, Benchmark Digital, Bill Identity, Bloomberg, BloombergNEF (BNEF), Bremer Energy Consulting Services, CDP, Central Arizona Project, CFA Institute, Chevron, ClearTrace, Cognite, Colgate-Palmolive, Cority, Cox Enterprises, CVC Growth Partners, Datamaran, Deutsche Börse, Diginex Solutions, Diligent Corporation, DNV , Dollarama, Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI), Ecocion, Ecodesk, Ecometrica, EcoVadis, Enablon, Enel, Energy Star, EnHelix Environmental Defense Fund, Envizi, EQT, EU, EY, FigBytes, Fitch, FTSE4Good, GE Digital, Gensuite, GHGSat, Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB), Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), GMI Ratings, Goby, Goodera, Greenstone, Guardhat, Intelex, International Capital Market Association (ICMA), International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS), iPoint, IsoMetrix, ISS, JPMorgan Chase, Librestream, Lloyds Banking Group, Measurabl, Metrio, Microsoft, Moody's, Morgan Stanley Institute For Sustainable Investing, Morningstar, MSCI, Nasdaq OneReport, National Grid, NAVEX Global, Neuberger Berman, Novisto, NYSE, Oekom, Parley For The Oceans, Persefoni, PG&E, PIMCO, Plexus, Power Corporation of Canada, ProcessMAP, Project Canary, Quentic, Refinitiv, Rio ESG, S&P Global, Salesforce, Santander, Schneider Electric, Scope 5, Scottish Widows, Shell, Siemens, SINAI Technologies, Source Intelligence, Sphera, State Street Global Advisors, Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), Temasek, Teva Pharmaceuticals, thinkstep, UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), UL, UN, US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), US SIF, Vale, VelocityEHS, Workiva, XBRL International, Y Combinator

About the authors

Yaowen Ma

Principal Analyst

Yaowen is a Principal Analyst at Verdantix conducting research on EHS and ESG information management. His current agenda focuses on digital technologies, best practices and growth strategies across EHS, product stewardship, sustainability performance and ESG risk management. Yaowen has more than seven years of experience managing and delivering EHS and ESG research and consulting engagements to corporates, vendors, investors and industry associations. He holds a dual major bachelor’s degree in environmental management and international relations from the University of Pennsylvania.

David Metcalfe

CEO

David is the CEO of Verdantix and co-founded the firm in 2008. Based on his 20 years of experience in technology strategy and research roles he provides guidance on digital strategies to C-level executives at technology providers, partners at private equity firms and function heads at large corporations. His current focus is on helping clients understand their market opportunity tied to ESG investment trends and their impact on corporate sustainability strategies. During his 12 years running Verdantix – including 4 leading the New York office – he has helped dozens of clients grow their businesses through fund raising, acquisitions and international growth. David was previously SVP Research at Forrester and Head of Analysis & Forecasting at BT. He holds a PhD from Cambridge University and also worked as a Research Associate at the Harvard Business School.

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