Friday, April 18, 2008

Forrester releases CSR Tech Vendor review

Had a chance to review the just released Forrester report, and it is a sign of the growing maturity of this market that a research company like Forrester is covering CSR technology as an emerging segment. I have met with a few market research firms in the past 6 months to discuss the cleantech and CSR markets. For the most part, they are just starting with their own due diligence into this space, so they are not up to speed on the market, vendors, key initiatives, and growth strategies. They will most likely address this space coming from their own areas or strength: enterprise software, business analytics, supply chain management, etc.

Forrester broke down CSR technology categories as follows:

  • Niche CSR
  • GRC (Governance, Regulatory, Compliance)
  • EMS (Environmental Management Systems)
  • Business Applications (performance mgt, analytics)

No specific mention of technology platforms for sustainability in the greening of the supply chain, though. I think that this need, along with greening of IT / Data Centers and GRI Reporting, are the primary market drivers for buying these technology solutions today. The supply chain management issue (along with PLM) also directs ties into compliance with new toxics regulations such as REACH and RoHS; creating an additional market driver.

They talked to about 30 companies, which may seem like a good number, but still is a relatively small sample, given the breadth of technologies that they are covering (GRC tech companies alone comprise a big group, and there are a significant number of emerging CSR reporting technology firms on the horizon).

I thought the recommendations were rather broad, but recognize that the report is geared towards a technology buyer community who may be just getting up to speed on this segment. Recognizing that this report will most likely be followed in the near future with in-depth vendor analyses and market segment reviews, I think buyers will need corresponding strategies around the type of complimentary services that are required. It is clear that each technology platform arrives at the CSR market with its own strength and focus, but CSR itself is based on the premise of enterprise level and multiple domain business process development. At this stage of the market, significant consulting help will be required to build enterprise level solutions, regardless of the technology platform strengths.

Consulting services such as CSR strategy development, systems integration, domain specific expertise (i.e. environmental, community development, etc) and also 3rd party validation / assurance are necessary and critical at this early stage of market maturity. Look for an upcoming blog post on this subject…

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