Greater IT-sustainability team synergy key to improving ESG reporting with only 36 per cent of business leaders in Singapore seeing occasional collaborations between IT and sustainability
SINGAPORE, 16 November 2023 – UiPath (NYSE: PATH), a leading enterprise automation software company, today launched a new environmental, social, and governance (ESG) study highlighting organisations’ common struggles with ESG reporting and ways they can unlock value from ESG data. In the face of increasingly stringent ESG reporting requirements, businesses grapple with collecting and reporting accurate data – an area where new innovations such as automation can help.
Specifically, the report found 58 per cent of senior decision-makers across Singapore businesses view data inaccuracy or poor data quality as a significant obstacle in ESG data collection, and 53 per cent are considering investing in automation to support ESG data management.
The study, Navigating ESG Reporting Challenges Through Innovation and Collaboration, was conducted by UiPath in partnership with Eco-Business, and presents ESG reporting insights from senior decision-makers across sectors, including finance, manufacturing, and public services in Australia and Singapore.
Among aspects of the ESG reporting process, data collection emerged as the most challenging, with 79 per cent of respondents in Singapore highlighting its resource-intensive nature. Moreover, 56 per cent of respondents reported that their organisations have inconsistent and irregular data collection procedures. Additionally, Singapore companies still rely on spreadsheets (70 per cent) and manual entry (60 per cent) as data collection methods – both of which are time-consuming and susceptible to human error.
Amid these challenges, companies are turning to automation to better ensure accuracy and compliance in ESG reporting. In Singapore, 35 per cent of respondents have already started to adopt automation to help with ESG management, and 50 per cent are considering investing in automation to improve ESG outcomes.
“Automation is already helping turn a number of organisations’ good intentions for ESG into a workable reality. Software robots are tackling a significant part of the workload to simplify ESG compliance and data collection processes to better understand performance against ESG initiatives, translating to improvements in organisations’ sustainability management,” said Jess O’Reilly, Area Vice President, Asia at UiPath.
Navigating new regulations through strengthened synergy and a solid ESG framework
Singapore will require public companies and private companies with at least SGD$1 billion (US$740 million) to make climate-related disclosures by 2025 and 2027, respectively. This will require businesses to be more efficient in their reporting processes. Technology investments – including automation – for robust ESG data collection, monitoring, validation, and reporting can help businesses comply with the new requirements.
However, effective use of automation requires greater collaboration and frequent engagements between sustainability and IT teams. Currently, only 36 per cent among surveyed business leaders in Singapore reported occasional interactions between IT and sustainability teams within the past year. In addition, most meetings (18 per cent) occurred just once every six months. Breaking down silos between sustainability and IT teams will foster better resource-sharing, allow sustainability teams to access AI-powered automation tools for analysis, and enhance ESG data processes.
Based on the study, automation is helping increase organisations’ productivity – in Singapore, 61 per cent of business leaders have reported at least a moderate improvement since adopting automation for ESG management, with 13 per cent experiencing a significant improvement in productivity. Despite these gains, only 24 per cent of surveyed companies in Singapore are leveraging automation in data reporting.
AI-powered software robots can help companies monitor ESG key metrics such as carbon emissions, streamline data collection, processing, analysis, and reporting, and reduce the likelihood of mistakes. AI-powered software robots can also extract, interpret, and process data from structured and unstructured documents, to empower organisations with real-time insights and more informed decision-making.
Fostering shared responsibility and accountability among IT and sustainability teams will also optimise sustainability efforts across the organisation to bring a competitive advantage. Based on the survey, over 23 per cent of respondents in Singapore observed a lack of designated sustainability responsibilities among technology decision-makers, while 35 per cent mentioned that existing responsibilities are inadequately defined. At the same time, only 15 per cent of respondents in Singapore have the company’s decision-maker as a core part of the sustainability committee.
Looking ahead, an integrated approach to transformation is critical. This involves having a clear understanding of ESG goals, implementing processes that ensure the smooth implementation of automation tools, and driving an automation-first approach across the organisation.
“Organisations need to adopt a holistic perspective and move beyond piecemeal efforts to realise the full benefits of automation in the age of ESG. Integrating automation across the ESG infrastructure fosters better data-sharing, streamlined workflows, and enhanced decision-making, driving positive outcomes for businesses and the larger society,” added O’Reilly.
Eco-Business and UiPath’s Navigating ESG Reporting Challenges Through Innovation and Collaboration study can be downloaded here.
UiPath’s Navigating ESG Reporting Challenges Through Innovation and Collaboration study is based on a survey conducted across sectors, including agriculture, engineering, finance, the government, logistics, manufacturing, and the government, among others, in Australia and Singapore from March to May 2023. The study gathered 87 professionals – 66 in Singapore and 21 in Australia. The qualitative insights were derived from interviews with Singapore and Australia-based companies around ESG challenges, how they are dealing with these issues, and which solutions they are considering.
UiPath (NYSE: PATH) is on a mission to uplevel knowledge work so more people can work more creatively, collaboratively, and strategically. The AI-powered UiPath Business Automation Platform combines the leading robotic process automation (RPA) solution with a full suite of capabilities to understand, automate, and operate end-to-end processes, offering unprecedented time-to-value. For organisations that need to evolve to survive and thrive through increasingly changing times, UiPath is The Foundation of Innovation™. For more information, visit.
Established in 2009, Eco-Business is an independent media and business intelligence company dedicated to sustainable development and ESG performance. It publishes high quality, trusted news and views in multimedia formats on business and policy developments around the world with a sustainability and ESG-focused lens.
Eco-Business Intelligence provides research, advisory and ESG upskilling on a wide range of issues which create strategic value for our partners and clients. It owns and creates thought-leadership platforms which inform policymaking, improve business practices and foster collaboration among different sectors. Eco-Business is headquartered in Singapore, with a presence in Manila, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, and correspondents in major cities across the world. Visit us at www.eco-business.com.