4 Feb 2021

Deploying the right EHS software to leverage big data more effectively

The axiom ‘Data is the lifeblood of today’s businesses’ is stressed often, and for good reason. In the information age, what companies do with their big data, and how effectively they use analytics to mine it for value, can make a considerable difference to their success.

In the environmental, health and safety arena, leveraging data and garnering insights efficiently can not only improve a business’s reputation, but it can also help companies more effectively manage their safety risks and reduce accidents. Doing so offers further substantive benefits, such as improving their financial performance and attractiveness to investors and enhancing workplace productivity and employee morale.

Given the impact of the pandemic, the value of being able to offer employees greater assurance in their safety while on the job cannot be overstated.
While certainly much can be gained from approaching big data comprehensively, realizing its full potential relies on using the right EHS software.

The reason for this is that despite the name, managing big data does not solely depend on volumes (quantities) of data. Velocity, and variety of data are just as essential.

The velocity of big data refers to the speed at what data is acquired, processed, and used. Clearly, in the context of information pertaining to environmental health and safety you want to be able to process data and act on it before it becomes less relevant and respond timeously so that safety measures can be implemented as soon as possible.

Finally, data variety entails the different data types and different classes of data in an organisation, how they compare to one another, and how readily discrepancies in multiple formats can be resolved.

The bottom line is that to effectively deal with data volumes, velocity and variety, organisations really need to utilise a robust and capable EHS software management system that can take all the above into account and deliver actionable insights.

With that said, let us assume that companies acknowledge the value of their big data and understand the importance of having an EHS software system in place to contend with this intricacy. The million-dollar question becomes – how can companies manage their big data better, and what should your EHS management system offer to this end?

Our first piece of advice is to go beyond the customary approach to using big data. Many companies approach EHS data by just collecting a finite number of data points and using that to determine whether their EHS measures are falling behind, for reporting purposes. While this is certainly valuable, with the right EHS management systems, companies can do a great deal more.

For example, data, along with predictive analytics, could be leveraged to be able to anticipate risks before they become problematic. In a similar vein, predictive analytics enables companies to forecast equipment malfunction, and fix or replace machinery before it fails outright.

Secondly, companies would be well advised to invest in EHS management systems that offer data visualisation, which offers a streamlined view of data. This makes it more easily digestible and thus more likely to be acted upon.

Finally, you would also want to consider whether your EHS system enables you to view your collated data from a mobile device, and whether information can be accessed in real time. With the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT), it is important for an EHS software management system to be able to consider data from connected devices, such as remote cameras, for example, as well.

Tackling big data is not a simple endeavour, but, with the right EHS software system, it can be a highly rewarding one for organisations that do embrace the intricacies involved.

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