The smog lifted in big industrial cities worldwide when lockdowns shuttered businesses and restricted traveling. Cleaner pandemic skies were a result of a 70 percent decrease in NO2 pollution that generally comes from traffic and power plants. Meanwhile, 84 percent of countries reported air quality improvements, emphasizing the importance of environmental and corporate sustainability.
Dynamic perspectives make ecologically responsible work practices imperative across the globe and force business leaders to adapt. The introduction of enterprise-wide changes is a challenging and time-consuming process. It requires not only expertise and thorough planning, but also corporate sustainability consulting services to identify initial steps and effective initiatives for your company.
Below we review the high-speed remodeling of the business landscape toward a greener future. Also, we analyze how digital technologies accelerate the switch to a more responsible organization. So, let’s waste no more time and dive deeper into the topic.
What is corporate sustainability?
We use the term “corporate sustainability” to describe a business strategy that considers the potential impact on three major areas: economy, people, and the planet. In simpler terms, it’s a practice of doing business without negatively affecting the environment and society or compromising non-renewable resources for the next generations.
Corporate sustainability strategies are unique to each organization, as they align with business objectives and corporate values. So, some examples may include:
- Reach net-zero operation and production by 2030
- Create sustainable and innovative products and solutions
- Optimize the supply chain to decrease emissions
- Run facilities on carbon-free energy 24/7 by 2025
- Partner with local communities and support their initiatives
The explosion in sustainability investing and why it’s more than a trend
In the past three years, responsible investment has reached a tipping point. The shift to the environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) agenda was on the rise and reached $21.5 billion in Q1 2021.
Currently, 80 percent of investors think that companies with better ESG scores can yield higher returns and become high-performing stocks despite COVID-19 and other disruptions. So, it is no surprise that the pressure on businesses to take environmental and social challenges seriously will only increase. Even today around 77 percent of customers look for ecologically friendly brands. For instance, Apple announced the goal to become carbon neutral across their entire business by 2030. Meanwhile, Adidas broadened its range of sustainable products and expanded their recycling ratio to over 60 percent in 2020. So, welcome to a future where a competitive edge without corporate sustainability is already impossible.
How digital technologies accelerate the path to a low-carbon enterprise
Initially, digital transformation emerged as a centerpiece for a more resilient and sustainable future. Multiple factors often hindered its progress, but in 2020, COVID-19 changed this by putting digitalization at the top of strategic priorities.
Many businesses don’t understand how technology can help them succeed in corporate sustainability programs. So, let’s analyze and cut straight to the chase together.
So, let’s see how the implementation of these technologies can support your environmental responsibility initiatives.
The Internet of Things
Commercial buildings are responsible for 35 percent of electricity consumed in the US and 16 percent of all US carbon emissions. So, it’s no wonder so many industries integrate IoT devices into HVAC and lighting systems to address these issues. Connected sensors let you track energy supply and demand, get insight into over-consuming equipment, and measure air pollution.
Additionally, IoT can assist with waste management and material recycling to contribute to the circular economy. Finally, implementing smart sensors in renewable energy solutions allows you to monitor the weather and tune solar panels or turbine blades to optimize efficiency.
As you can see, wireless solutions can advance your performance against ESG goals in multiple ways. So, we advise you to hire corporate sustainability consulting services and implement IoT purposefully to gain the best outcomes.
A multicloud strategy can reduce costs, energy consumption, and carbon emissions if companies come at it from an angle of environmental responsibility. First, we refer to selecting vendors based on your internal needs and provider’s commitment to net-zero and green energy. For example, Google Cloud matched 100 percent of its annual energy usage with renewables in 2017. Additionally, Microsoft, being carbon neutral since 2012, has committed to shifting its data centers to a 100 percent renewable energy supply by 2025.
So, by distributing your workloads among several environment-friendly cloud solutions, you take advantage of their green-energy initiatives, not to mention enhanced risk management and other cloud computing benefits. We recommend learning about cloud options and opting for corporate sustainability consulting to align technology with your decarbonization goals before the migration.
A hybrid multicloud environment also produces a large amount of data on resource utilization, usage trends, and emissions associated with workloads. So, opting for this model helps you make data-driven decisions on systems operations to reduce your carbon footprint.
Using big data analytics for sustainable business practices, you contribute directly to fulfilling global ESG goals such as the Paris Climate Agreement. You can gain actionable insights to lead your corporate sustainability strategy by analyzing supply chain performance, greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), resources, and energy use. Furthermore, modern data analytics services allow you to merge information from numerous sources and cross-examine it to reveal correlations among variables.
AI and ML
A report from PwC UK states that the increasing use of AI can reduce GHG emissions by up to four percent by 2030, which is around 0.9-2.4 Gt of carbon dioxide, an equivalent of Australia, Japan, or Canada’s predicted 2030 annual emissions.
Machine learning and AI in many of its forms help improve energy efficiency in real-time while decreasing emissions and saving money all at once. For example, AI power grids coordinate the need for electricity against multiple energy sources and forecast solar and wind power demand. Currently available intelligent technology could reduce US energy usage by up to 22 percent and save billions of dollars.
Also, some companies leverage AI to make complex strategic decisions across an entire business, from product design to production to distribution. An AI-based system can help redesign products to minimize their footprint, optimize manufacturing, and establish a resilient supply chain.
At TEAM International, we believe in the importance of applying a data-driven approach and intelligent automation to boost innovation and enhance corporate sustainability programs. We have helped many leading companies implement AI and advanced analytics into their operations and know how advantageous this technology can be.
5G and mobile technologies
The new generation mobile network deployments in manufacturing, transportation, and telecommunications have already demonstrated the potential of green technology. 5G proved to be 90 percent more energy efficient than 4G per traffic unit while also transmitting more data.
Additionally, a high capacity and fast 5G network combined with IoT, cloud computing, and AI can help you run technologies effectively at scale. By doing so, you can introduce new processes as a part of your energy efficiency program and cut GHG emissions. So, you can expect to save money on energy bills and ensure easier compliance with carbon legislation.
This decentralized ledger made its name in cryptocurrencies. However, its transparency and security make blockchain beneficial for supply chains, logistics, retail, real estate, and other areas.
The technology helps companies improve their sourcing practices by providing verifiable records on who buys what and where, enhancing traceability. So, you can easily check if products are environmentally friendly. The same way blockchain works for energy sourcing, waste management, and recycling. Returning to the question of “what is corporate sustainability?”, we can add that operational transparency is critical for measuring social and environmental footprints more accurately.
Technology and sustainable practices are not two separate areas to prioritize
The relationship between digital transformation and corporate sustainability is complementary, even interdependent. It’s hard to imagine how companies would reduce paper usage or employ alternative energy sources without technology adoption.
Moreover, companies that succeed in integrating both are 2.5x more likely to show the highest business performance in the future. So, aligning your digitalization and ESG goals will help you obtain the best outcomes in terms of operational efficiency, profitability, societal and environmental value. We know it’s not the easiest way, so corporate sustainability consulting can help you explore various opportunities and benefits of digital transformation to future-proof your company.
The move to a low-carbon future powered by corporate sustainability consulting
Many companies lack the necessary competence and expertise to design an effective strategy and join the ranks of sustainable organizations. Indeed, it’s a fundamental transformation of core processes and work practices that requires a holistic approach, thorough planning, and expert guidance. So, take time to partner with a reputable technology company to avoid common bottlenecks and unnecessary costs. By doing so, you will position your business for success: attract top-level employees, retain customers, and ultimately make more profit while contributing to a greener future.