What’s CSR Got To Do With IT? #1

I will be presenting at the itSMF Australia National Conference which is being held on 23-25 August 2010 at the New Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Check out the itSMF Australia website for conference details here.

My keynote presentation is entitled “What’s CSR Got To Do With IT? – IT Service Management and Corporate Social Responsibility”.

As a run up to the conference I thought I would post a series of blogs that gives a taste of what I will be talking about and provide some insights to the question posed.

Does CSR have anything to do with IT and moreso, does it have anything to do with Service Management?

Well, this is a heads up for the CIO and IT. CSR is here to stay and IT has an integral part to play. The CEO sees CSR as an opportunity for growth and differentiation from the competition. It gives the organisation permission to enter new markets. The CEO is focused in three areas – environmental concerns, socioeconomic factors and people skills. The link between the three is IT. The CIO needs to look to IT Service Management to meet the challenge.

According to a IBM CEO Study, the investment in CSR is growing at 25% which is more than any other trend in IT.

It is no longer just about the environment and sustainability, workers rights and community contribution but now also includes accurate financial reporting, data integrity and security, and the quality of life of the organisation’s employees.

IT must not only be environmentally friendly but also provide the key metrics, reporting and analysis that allows an organisation to manage all aspects of the CSR effectively – from the environmental perspective, to detailed financial analysis and data, to employment and work practices.

The internet is making it easy for us to gather information about what organisations are doing in these areas. Customers and consumers are in the driving seat. From what they find on the internet, they form their own brand perceptions regardless of the corporate messages through advertising and other media. They then communicate what they have found to others. They join non-government organisations such as advocacy groups and glean more information that they can then pass on.

Other stakeholders are also seeking this information including the hard-to-attract talent that can choose their employer, investors, shareholders, suppliers and partners.

Therefore it is IT that is looked for to not only adhere to the CSR but also provide the transparent information being demanded

This puts the CIO right in the middle of the organisation’s CSR activities.

The CIO is being called upon to gather the data, analyse, and communicate massive amounts of data. Some of this may not even be collected today and if it is the CIO has to ensure the accuracy, reliability and relevance of the data.

Standards such as ISO 140001 for environmental management systems increase the focus.

Add to this that 2010 sees the introduction of ISO/DIS 26000 – Guidance on Social Responsibility – then there is even more pressure on IT to deliver.

IT Service Management (ITSM) and best practice guidance such as ITIL provide a framework for the CIO to address the sustainability challenge and embed CSR practices in to the fabric of the organisation.

In my next blog I will explore in more detail what we mean by CSR and why it is so high on the CEO agenda which in turn is going to put it high on the CIO agenda.

Karen Ferris is a Director at Macanta Consulting.

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