EBJ 2008 Locus

Environmental Data Management

Data published by the Environmental Business Journal indicate that the U.S. environmental industry generated cumulative revenues of about $300 billion dollars in 2007. The industry grew over 5 percent, its second consecutive year of growth greater than 5 percent and, by many indicators, one of its best years ever.

Although such numbers would seem to be cause for celebration, some troubling trends persist within the industry. Notable among these is its failure to embrace the information management revolution that has had deep and far-reaching impacts on so many other business sectors.  In particular, this failure to adopt the latest technologies for storing, distributing and managing information increases the costs and delays the cleanup of contaminated sites.  In this white paper, we discuss the role that consulting companies play in misinforming their clients about the data management options available to them.

Most companies “own” their financial, human resource, customer relations, and other data. This information typically resides on computers located in the company’s facilities, or it may be housed off site in data centers managed by an outside party. Regardless of which alternative is adopted, both are similar in that:

  1. Information is stored in a consistent and organized manner in central databases
  2. Employees within the company have, to the extent that their privileges permit, continuous and unimpeded access to this data.
  3. Companies unquestionably own the data and are able to change support vendors at will.

The manner in which companies with environmental liabilities manage and store their environmental information and data stands in marked contrast to the model that they have adopted for all their other key data.  Historically, environmental consultants and narrowly focused applications built on spreadsheets and client/server databases have served the complex software requirements of this market.  Today’s landscape of available technology options has consolidated and new and better options exist.  While planned IT spending on environmental software is rising, organizations are still struggling to identify software and service providers that can support environmental information management in the manner to which they’ve become accustomed with other enterprise initiatives and enterprise software, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer management (CRM), and supply chain management (SCM).