Marjella Alma is founder and CEO of eRevalue Ltd., a women-led technology company with offices in London and NYC. eRevalue offers Datamaran™, an emerging issues management system that delivers real-time analytics on new forms of regulatory, reputational and competitive risk and opportunity. A former Director of Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) – providers of the world’s leading standard for non-financial reporting – Marjella has had a front row seat in the corporate strategy space for over eight years, working directly with Fortune 500 companies across the globe. She knows that technology will be a game changer in business innovation.
Christopher P. Skroupa: For over eight years, you’ve been collaborating closely with businesses worldwide to focus on long-term value creation and, in turn, effective management of risks and opportunities related to economic, environmental, social, and corporate governance (EESG) issues. What types of risks and opportunities do companies face?
Marjella Alma: Today’s business landscape is often unpredictable. From increasing regulatory demands to competing investor expectations, constant shifts in today’s economy are hard to spot and hard to manage. What’s more, companies face some of the most complex and interconnected issues of our time –financial issues like responsible investment, governance issues like diversity and inclusion and environmental issues like climate change.
A growing trend in business and financial markets is to increasingly look at ESG or environmental, social and corporate governance information. I believe these issues are undervalued still, and when addressed, are often not done so in an integrated way. For instance, eRevalue’s Datamaran includes more than 500 regulations that demand disclosure on this new generation of issues. Research shows that investing in these types of issues has expanded 76% in the past two years in the US alone, and over 94% between 2011 and 2013 in Europe.
These issues cut across multiple dimensions of a business – financial, compliance, legal, procurement, communications, innovation – but often get trapped in silos. This is the problem we need to solve in order to effectively manage risks and capitalize on opportunities. As a company, your radar needs to be on at all times, and it needs to be sharp, but many businesses don’t know where to start when making key decisions about these issues that are hard to quantify.
Skroupa: How do companies effectively get ahead of these risks and capitalize on opportunities?
Alma: It starts with breaking down those silos that dominate corporate culture. Specialists are necessary, but collaboration is key to ensure alignment and effectiveness across departments, global offices and with partner organizations. Achieving this isn’t easy, especially in our information-overloaded and fast-paced society, but it is possible.
Innovative technologies today help to accelerate communication, manage complexity and, in turn, save time and effort. That way, businesses can spend more time focusing on what matters most: their corporate strategy. For instance, advanced data analytic technologies can sift through larger amounts of sources at an accelerated rate to reveal patterns that may not be recognizable to the human eye, especially as they happen in real-time. They can provide that objective, multi-dimensional perspective that can be hard to achieve otherwise. The machine spends time capturing this information, so we as humans can spend more time translating it into action plans that have real world and business relevance.