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The client is a large diversified mining company with a portfolio that includes metallurgical and thermal coal. It operates in Africa, Europe, South and North America, Australia and Asia.
The client’s coal operations contributed a significant share to its 2011 group operating profits. Coal does, however, impact human and environmental health negatively. While the client actively participates in the pursuit of cleaner coal solutions, the negative image of coal presents a significant challenge, with regulators and consumers increasingly inclined to shift consumption away from coal, and organizations involved in its extraction and use subject to reputational risk, tighter regulation and political risk.
Working in collaboration, the client and Accenture made use of social media analytics tools to gain insight into how stakeholders perceive and talk about the coal industry. This assisted in quantifying the client’s reputational risks, and helped the Accenture team more accurately shape an effective coal stewardship strategy with improved sustainability impacts beyond the mine gate.
A stated requirement of the broader coal stewardship strategy was to improve the sustainability impact of initiatives beyond the mine gate—for example, improving the welfare of affected communities, raising standards within industry and, further downstream within the direct client base, contributing to technological innovation to facilitate cleaner burning of coal.
As an input to the broader coal stewardship strategy, Accenture proposed that the client take an innovative approach to assessing reputational risk, using sentiment analysis technology for social listening and risk quantification. Sentiment analysis, or opinion mining, classifies the polarity of text as positive, negative or neutral based on degrees of sentiment or tonality, and can help detect emerging trends.
The Accenture risk management team carried out reputation risk analytics by configuring and implementing social listening technology to mine data for stakeholder conversations regarding coal across social media channels. Text analytics identified the client’s reputational strengths and weaknesses by topic and sub-topic, isolated geographical differentiation of reputation risk, and identified key influencers in the public debate.
The Accenture team then benchmarked the client’s reputation against that of others in the mining arena and energy arenas (oil and nuclear power). This provided an important input to the design of the new strategy, assisting to identify which initiatives would have a greater impact on improving reputational risk exposure.
To better exploit the potential benefits of technology, the Accenture management consulting team collaborated extensively with offshore specialists to deploy tailored social media analytics software.
By providing detailed analytics on the external regulatory and reputational environment, Accenture helped the client to tailor strategic initiatives across its value chain to address specific stakeholder groups and geographies. This will assist the client in optimizing its spending on outreach initiatives and in building more trusting and sustainable relationships with regulators, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and business partners.
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