Companies around the world are paying more attention to sustainability than ever before. According to KPMG’s 2020 Sustainability Reporting Survey, 80% of top companies today have a sustainability report.
Companies can take many steps to improve their sustainability approach. One of the best ways to do this is to invest in technologies that help reduce your carbon footprint.
Technology helps companies become greener
Companies around the world face different market challenges, but the number one challenge across industries in recent decades has been digital transformation and the fundamental operational changes it requires.
Businesses must continually learn and adapt to stay relevant and continue to reach customers. Companies that have successfully navigated this dramatic change have further developed their business in the process of adaptation.
However, business evolution is a never-ending process – the challenge we currently need to address to adapt and survive is sustainability. Like digital transformation, achieving sustainable development requires extensive use of technology.
The reason why sustainability is so important is because of environmental concerns: problems caused by old-fashioned technologies lead to carbon emissions, which in turn contribute to climate change.
We’ve previously blogged about the debate over whether technological advances are helping or destroying the planet. The answer is more complicated because it depends on the type of technology in question and how it is used. However, the right technology can help companies drastically reduce their carbon footprint.
Companies that don’t heed the warning signs associated with the use of unsustainable technologies may fail to meet stakeholder needs in the future and may even find themselves outpaced by competitors.
Therefore, in order to optimize their performance in the long run, companies must reduce risk and identify every opportunity for growth related to environmental sustainability.
Due to complex manufacturing processes and specific customer expectations, industrial companies often face additional hurdles on the road to technological sustainability.
However, large investments come with large returns; industrial organizations that prioritize sustainable practices will reap immeasurable benefits in the long run. Nearly 80% of customers say they prioritize green businesses, and companies that meet their expectations will be more likely to thrive.
The benefits of sustainable technology
If the process of making your technology sustainable seems complicated and not currently attractive to you, consider the fact that businesses that manage to build and implement sustainable technologies score better on ESG metrics. In short, this leads to good business.
The higher the ESG performance, the more value is created for shareholders. If you’re up for the challenge but need guidance, you can turn to a web design company to learn more about where you stand on sustainable technology and how to move forward.
Three areas of opportunity
ESG outcomes from developing sustainable technologies can lead to growth in IT, business and customer operations:
Make internal IT operations sustainable to deliver maximum output with minimum resources.
Sustainable IT goals include reducing greenhouse gas emissions typically generated by IT’s use of electricity and carbon contained in waste technology.
To be able to demonstrate the results you achieve by implementing sustainable IT, you need to demonstrate supply chain transparency. Your organization must also understand and support its operational impact in areas such as human rights and ethical sourcing.
Some solutions for IT operations sustainability include outsourcing IT operations to sustainable operators or automating the recycling process. Both can reduce e-waste and carbon emissions.
Sustainability of business operations can be achieved through transparent trading and procurement practices, improving energy and investing in material efficiency – all while reducing emissions.
Think automation, artificial intelligence, advanced analytics and the use of the cloud.
Automation saves resources, while AI helps you make informed decisions by using natural language processing to give you insight into the future of your business. Advanced analytics can analyze real-time performance, and using the cloud can enable remote work through process transformation.
To decide which technologies to invest in to make your business sustainable, analyze how each investment affects your future goals and contributes to your business’ overall sustainable technology.
Customer Operational Sustainability
Implementing sustainable technologies in customer service can help your customers achieve their own sustainability goals.
To do this, you need to be able to understand your customers’ priorities. Often, customers do make sustainability awareness a priority when choosing products, but still end up choosing products that offer them higher quality or lower prices. The key is to make your customers realize how choosing your product helps them align their buying behavior with their sustainability values.
Another solution is to work with clients to introduce new models that will improve financial outcomes for your business and clients, not to mention the environment.
Building a sustainable technology strategy
If businesses are aware (and interested) in driving value by making their technology sustainable, the first step they must take is to define their sustainability philosophy, what it looks like operationally and what steps they will take to achieve these goals.
Someone who can help in this process is the Chief Information Officer (CIO). CIOs should be encouraged to build sustainable technology strategies that in turn help improve ESG (environmental, social and governance) performance and the business itself.
A CIO’s sustainable technology strategy should include three important steps:
- Sustainability plans through the use of technological innovations
- Measuring how technology affects ESG metrics and ensuring their sustainability
- Ensuring that other businesses, as well as non-profit and government organizations participate in making an impact around the world
Common challenges to achieve the SDGs
Certain companies are still grappling with determining the ESG impact of the technologies they currently employ. Therefore, they still have a long way to go before implementing new solutions and catching up with the latest market demands.
Some of the problems businesses face when trying to bridge the gap between the technology they currently use and the quality of sustainability they wish to add are as follows:
- Many executives believe that there is still no suitable solution, and if there is, no professional will be hired to deal with modern demands.
- Some businesses feel the solutions are too complex to figure out and implement to make their systems sustainable.
- Other businesses just lack awareness of the type of technology they use and can’t be sure if it’s sustainable.
- Many companies do not involve their CIOs in decision-making about sustainability, so sustainability goals and strategies are often reserved for leadership teams that do not include the CIO.
Trends to Consider
You can easily prioritize the technologies you invest in based on the types of big issues your business believes are critical to the successful future of your business.
To give you some guidance, here are five trends expected to be relevant to businesses and stakeholders:
AI (Artificial Intelligence)
Artificial intelligence is an excellent way to reduce your carbon and environmental footprint. Through operational optimization, running models with the lowest carbon footprint while maintaining accuracy, AI can easily achieve environmental sustainability.
Greenhouse Gas Management Software
GHG management software facilitates solutions based on emissions (direct, indirect and non-specific) data collection and analysis.
The software designs solutions to help companies meet reporting obligations and improve emissions performance. In addition, these software solutions allow your business to plan, forecast and optimize program portfolios.
Supplier Sustainability Application
These apps are useful for collecting and evaluating suppliers’ ESG performance. These insights can help you make informed decisions about whether you have the same SDGs, and thus whether it makes sense to collaborate.
In addition, company leaders can proactively request sustainability from suppliers: conduct audits and on-site inspections to increase transparency and reduce risk.
Cloud services can help your business increase the use of shared resources and reduce environmental impact by using only necessary resources. This enables your business to achieve sustainable benefits in social, economic and, of course, environmental systems.
supply chain blockchain
If your business’s top priority is ensuring ethical sourcing, supply chain blockchains can allow transactions to be secured, verified, and tracked. Advanced analytics can track everything from raw materials to final products.
Digital technologies that enhance sustainability
In addition to this, there are a range of digital technologies that can improve the sustainability of the entire value chain:
Design and development
- Augmented and virtual reality improve R&D outcomes by providing insight into operations and product prototyping to reduce material waste
- Intelligent Design Automation provides multiple design options to help reduce energy consumption and waste
- Digital twins help optimize energy consumption processes by creating energy models
- Automated systems for monitoring help prevent environmental hazards such as gas leaks
- IoT/Industry 4.0 provides energy management, material waste and water use through sensor-based data collection
- Additive manufacturing creates parts based on 3D printing to reduce waste and provide repair of metal parts
- Cloud and advanced analytics help reduce emissions
- AI and data analytics monitor air quality, space usage, energy efficiency, and more, and report metrics to clients
disposition and giant
- RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags track the life cycle of products, allowing recycling and product reuse
Sustainable technology can have incredible benefits for the future of your business. It helps you optimize costs, leverage assets, improve energy performance, drive ESG outcomes and ensure responsible business practices. Beyond that, your customer service can become more effective, interactive, and impactful.