Companies around the world are more concerned about sustainability than ever before. According to The KPMG Survey of Sustainability Reporting 2020, 80% of all top businesses have a sustainability report these days.
There are a number of measures that companies can take to improve their approach to sustainability. One of the best is to invest in technology that helps lower their carbon footprint.
Technology Helps Companies Become Eco-Friendlier
Companies around the world all face different market challenges, but in recent decades the number one challenge across industries has been digital transformation and the fundamental operational changes it necessitates.
Businesses must constantly learn and adapt to stay relevant and continue to reach their customers. Companies who tackled this massive change successfully have even further developed their business during the process of adaptation.
However, business evolution is a never-ending process – and the current challenge we are required to deal with to adapt and survive is sustainability. As with digital transformation, moving toward achieving sustainability will also require extensive use of technology.
The reasons achieving sustainability is so important lie in environmental issues: issues caused by old-fashioned technology responsible for carbon emissions and, consequently, climate change.
We previously blogged about the debate as to whether technological advances are helping or destroying the planet. The answer is more complicated, since it depends on the type of technology in question and how it is being used. However, the right technology can help companies lower their carbon footprint considerably.
Companies that aren’t paying attention to the warning signs related to the use of non-sustainable technology will likely fail to meet the demands of stakeholders in the future – and even possibly find themselves outpaced by the competition.
Therefore, to optimize their performance in the long run, companies must reduce risk and identify every growth opportunity regarding environmental sustainability.
Due to complex manufacturing processes and specific customer expectations, industrial companies often face more obstacles on the path to technological sustainability.
However, with great investment comes great reward; industrial organizations that prioritize sustainable practices will reap immeasurable benefits in the long term. Nearly 80% of customers state that they prioritize eco-friendly businesses, Companies that meet their expectations will be more likely to thrive.
Benefits of Sustainable Technology
If the process of making your technology sustainable seems complex and doesn’t appeal to you at the moment, consider the fact that businesses who manage to build and implement sustainable technology score higher pertaining to ESG metrics. This results in — to put it simply — good business.
The higher the ESG performance, the more value generated for the shareholders. If you are up for the challenge but need guidance, you can seek assistance from web design companies to learn more about where you stand with sustainable technology and how to move forward.
Three Areas of Opportunity
ESG outcomes as a result of developing sustainable technology can lead to growth in the areas of IT, enterprise and customer operations:
Making internal IT operations sustainable results in delivering maximum output using minimum resources.
Sustainable IT goals include the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions commonly produced by IT’s usage of electricity and carbon embodied in discarded technology.
To be able to vouch for the results you achieve through the implementation of sustainable IT, you would be required to demonstrate supply chain transparency. Your organization must also be aware and supportive of its operational impact in areas such as human rights and ethical sourcing.
Some of the solutions for the sustainability of IT operations include IT operations outsourcing to sustainable operators or robotizing the recycling process. Both can result in reducing e-waste and carbon emissions.
Making your enterprise operations sustainable can be achieved through transparent trade and sourcing practices, improving energy, and investing in material efficiency – all leading to a decrease in emissions.
Think automation, AI, advanced analytics, and the use of the Cloud.
Automation can result in resource savings, while AI helps you make clever decisions by giving you an insight into the future of business through employing natural language processing. Advanced analytics can analyze real-time performance and using Cloud can allow remote work through process transformation.
To decide which technology to invest in to achieve enterprise sustainability, analyze how each investment can impact your goals in the future and contribute to the overall sustainable technology of your business.
Customer Operations Sustainability
Implementing sustainable technology in the field of customer service can help your customers reach their own sustainability goals.
To do so, you need to be able to understand customers’ priorities. Often, customers do possess the awareness of sustainability as a priority when choosing a product, but still end up opting for a product that offers them higher quality or a lower price. The key is to make your customers recognize how choosing your product helps them align their purchasing behavior with their value of sustainability.
Another solution is collaborating with customers on introducing new models which would result in the improvement of financial outcomes for both your business and your customers, not to mention the environment.
Building a Sustainable Technology Strategy
If a business aware of (and interested in) driving value through making their technology sustainable, the first step they have to take is to define their idea of sustainability, what that looks like operationally and what steps they will take to achieve those goals.
The one who can help with this process is the Chief Information Officer (CIO). A CIO should be encouraged to construct a sustainable technology strategy which should then in turn help grow ESG (environmental, social, and governance) performance and the business itself.
A CIOs’ sustainable technology strategy should encompass three important steps:
- Enabling sustainability initiatives through the use of technology innovation
- Measuring how technology impacts the ESG metrics and ensuring its sustainability
- Ensuring other businesses, as well as non-profit and government organizations engage in making an impact across the world
Common Challenges in Achieving Sustainability Goals
Certain companies are still tackling the issue of determining the ESG impact of the technologies they are employing at the moment. Therefore, they have a long way to go before implementing new solutions and catching up with the latest market requirements.
Some of the issues businesses encounter when trying to bridge the gap between their currently employed technology and the quality of sustainability they would like to add are as follows:
- A large number of executives believe there are still no proper solutions and that, even if there were, there wouldn’t be any professionals to hire to cope with the modern demands.
- Some businesses deem the solutions too complex to figure out and implement to make their systems sustainable.
- Other businesses simply lack awareness of the type of technology they use and aren’t able to determine whether it is sustainable or not.
- Many companies do not have their CIOs involved in the decision-making process concerning sustainability, so the sustainability goals and strategies are often reserved for the leadership team excluding CIOs.
Trends to Consider
Depending on the type of material issues your enterprise identifies as crucial to the successful future of your business, you can easily prioritize the technology you invest in.
To give you some direction, here are five trends expected to be relevant for businesses and stakeholders:
AI (Artificial Intelligence)
AI is an excellent way to achieve a reduction in carbon and environmental footprint. Through operations optimization leading to running models at the lowest carbon footprint while maintaining accuracy, AI can easily become environmentally sustainable.
GHG Management Software
GHG Management Software facilitates solutions based on emissions (direct, indirect ad nonspecific) data collection and analysis.
The software devises solutions to help enterprises fulfill reporting obligations and improve emissions performance. In addition, these software solutions can enable your business to plan, predict and optimize initiative portfolios.
Supplier Sustainability Apps
These apps can be very useful in collecting and evaluating your suppliers’ ESG performance. These insights help you make an informed decision as to whether you share the same sustainability goals – and therefore whether collaborating together makes sense.
Also, company leaders can take the initiative and raise their sustainability requirements for vendors: performing audits and on-site inspections to improve transparency and reduce risk.
Cloud services can help your business increase the usage of shared resources and reduce the impact on the environment by using only what is necessary. This can result in your business achieving sustainability benefits within social, economic, and, naturally, environmental systems.
Supply Chain Blockchain
If your business’s priority is to ensure ethical sourcing, supply chain blockchain can allow for the protection, verification, and tracing of transactions. Advanced analytics can track all the information from raw materials to a final product.
Digital Technologies to Enhance Sustainability
In addition to this, there is an array of digital technologies to enhance sustainability across the value chain:
Design/ Research and Development
- Augmented and Virtual Reality reduce material waste by providing insight into operations and product prototyping enhancing R&D results
- Intelligent Design Automation offers numerous design options and helps decrease energy consumption and waste
- Digital Twin helps with the optimization of energy-consuming processes through the creation of an energy model
- Automated systems for monitoring help to prevent environmental hazards such as gas leaks
- Internet of things/Industry 4.0 provides energy management, material waste, and water usage through sensor-based data collection
- Additive manufacturing creates parts based on 3D printing to reduce waste and provides repair of metal parts
- Cloud and advanced analytics can contribute to reducing emissions
- AI and data analytics monitor air quality, space usage, energy efficiency, etc., and report the metrics to the customers
Disposal and Reuse
- RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags track a product’s life cycle allowing for recycling and product reuse
Sustainable technology can be incredibly beneficial for the future of your business. It can help you with cost optimization, utilization of assets, energy performance, driving ESG outcomes, and ensuring responsible business practices. Apart from that, your customer service can become far more effective, interactive, and influential.