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Flashback: Revisiting our 2019 EHS Trend Predictions

In 2019, a lot has changed for the EHS industry.

The trend of deregulation continued as the Trump administration rolled back dozens of federal safety and environmental rules. Meanwhile, scientists escalated their warnings about climate change. Record flooding in the Northern Plains and Midwest, wildfires in California and Australia, a European heatwave, and one of the most powerful hurricanes recorded in the Atlantic Ocean were just a few of the extreme weather events that made headlines this year. A record number of companies announced renewable energy procurement deals, and the plastic-free movement caught on around the world.

Before we look ahead to 2020, we thought it might be interesting to take a look back at our 2019 EHS trend predictions to see how well we did — or didn’t — predict the future.

Prediction 1: Organizations will increase spending on EHS technology

We’ve been saying this for a while: Organizations are waking up to the value of EHS software to save time, lower costs, and prevent unwanted events. Not only did companies increase spending on EHS technology in 2019, they’re expected to do the same next year. The global market for environment, health and safety (EHS) software is expected to grow from $1.2bn in 2019 to $2bn in 2024 according to a new report from Verdantix.

Prediction 2: More mid-size companies will adopt cloud-based EHS software solutions

Cloud has become the most widely adopted deployment option — not just for EHS software, but for nearly every business application. According to Flexera’s 2019 State of the Cloud Survey, 94% of companies use cloud. What’s more, companies of all sizes are increasing their investment in cloud computing. If you haven’t already moved to the cloud, here are a few reasons to consider it.

Prediction 3: Mobile apps will be a top technology of interest

There’s no question the demand for mobile EHS apps is growing. Companies that adopt EHS software are looking to extend the platform to smartphones and tablets for audits and inspections, near miss reporting, and more. Even so, 59% of employees still think that their organisation has been too slow at delivering apps for the workforce, according to Digital Strategy Consulting.

Prediction 4: Risk management will be a top priority for EHS

Our blog posts on risk management (here, here, and here) have been some of our most popular articles in 2019. It’s a clear sign that risk management is top-of-mind for today’s EHS and business leaders.

Prediction 5: More employees will be involved in capturing EHS & risk information

To confirm this prediction, we looked to our own customers. We’re seeing more companies adopting our Workspace Xpress mobile app to collect incident, near miss, and risk observations. This might be due in part to the new ISO 45001 standard, which requires workers to be involved in establishing the safety program, evaluating its effectiveness, and identifying ways to improve it.

Prediction 6: Organizations will 'do the right thing' despite less regulation

As of September 2019, there were over 80 environmental regulations on the way out under this administration, according to a New York Times analysis. While some companies are still in the “wait-and-see” stage, we’ve seen many big players taking matters into their own hands.

To date, 87 major companies — including AstraZeneca, Nestle, and Unilever— have set science-based climate targets aligned with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and reaching net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.

Prediction 7: Environmental data management will make a comeback

Environmental data management is back, but it looks a lot different than it did a decade ago. In the past, regulatory compliance was the main driver for companies to collect and manage environmental data. Today, organizations are relying on environmental data to guide their decisions about sustainability efforts, measure their performance, and communicate their impact on the environment to stakeholders.

Prediction 8: More organizations will look to manage environmental & sustainability data at the asset level

With so many companies rolling out sustainability or net zero targets, asset level management has become the new standard. Instead of monthly summaries, companies are looking to capture huge volumes of data on energy consumption, waste, emissions, and resource usage at the source. With that information, they're able to discern the impact of each boiler, pump, and piece of equipment in order to monitor performance and make adjustments in real-time.

Prediction 9: Software integrations will encourage holistic management

The message is clear: Today’s software buyers want to manage all their data in one centralized location. In addition to building more integrations, software vendors have been busy expanding their core product offerings through major collaborations and acquisitions. In fact, Perillon was acquired this year by Lisam Systems, a global leader in SDS and Chemical Management. With this acquisition, Lisam adds a transactional layer of EHS compliance and risk management products designed for many users across an enterprise.

Prediction 10: Big data analysis will be key for EHS & risk management

If our readers’ interest in data dashboards (here, here, and here) is any indication, we hit this trend prediction on the head. Big data is bigger than ever, with the industry now worth $189 billion — an increase of $20 billion over the previous year. What that means: data visualization will be more important than ever for companies that need to analyze and act on their data efficiently.

Next steps: Stay ahead in the New Year

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