As we wrap up the first day of our EHS MIS conference in San Antonio, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the evolution of the EHS MIS marketplace and share a few trends.
When we first started this conference back in the 1990’s, data management was largely governed by spreadsheets and worksheets. In fact, I remember the audience’s awestruck reaction when an EHS IT manager from Mobil Oil showed a simple form they deployed to every location around the world to provide a uniform system for tracking incidents and injuries. In today’s computer-savvy, globally connected, mobile workforce, it’s hard to imagine how companies managed to collate and analyze data that way, but for years, this was what EHS managers had to do.
After the technology transition in the early 2000’s, we saw a dramatic increase in the use of software in collecting and tracking data. The emergence of a formal software industry provided companies with both customized and off-the-shelf software such as material safety data sheets (MSDS) databases, audit protocols, incident and emissions tracking, and corrective action planning.
Along the way, the software solutions have moved from individual tools to integrated solutions and from PC-based software to software-as-a-service. Today the EHS software industry is a mature marketplace that is helping companies solve traditional EHS challenges, while rapidly growing into new areas such as carbon reporting.
As we move into this next phase of growth, here are few trends I think are worth looking out for:
- Growth in carbon and energy management to help firms with their carbon tracking and carbon footprinting challenges
- Creation of “sustainability” tracking solutions to support sustainability reporting requirement and supply chain management
- Increased flexibility in software solutions to enable companies to configure their software to align with their business processes
- Greater emphasis in global compliance and training to support geographic diversity and accountability
- Integration of content and real-time access to relevant information such as key sources, protocols, case law within EHS MIS software
- Applications for handheld devices (tablets, iPads and phones) to enable practitioners to access information in the field
What trends would you add to this list? Is there other functionality you would like to see software systems include?