Leading firms recognise that reaching ambitious sustainability goals necessitates a holistic strategy to transformation—one that considers all aspects of the problem. Using sustainability as a competitive advantage, on the other hand, necessitates integrating technology and data from the start.
The importance of technology is much broader than "green IT." As more firms consider their technology and sustainability agendas in tandem, executives should consider whether they are applying game-changing technology and digital thinking to the challenge of reaching sustainability goals—or whether this vital business issue is missing an important dimension.
The economic benefit of technology
Technology may operate as a big accelerator for firms willing to think widely about how to enhance their sustainability projects. This mentality is known as "technology eco-advantage," and it entails employing sophisticated technologies and ways of working to create profitable solutions that simultaneously contribute to net zero and other environmental, social, and governance goals.
Consider the achievement of net-zero GHG emissions. Our experience demonstrates that a mix of process automation, carbon data transparency, circular product or service design, and sustainable business models may reduce emissions by 45 percent to 70 percent for an organisation of 80,000 employees.
Such measures can also result in significant cost reductions. For example, a top European minerals firm created an end-to-end model for an integrated energy management solution by combining a digitally enabled energy control tower with a cloud-connected data platform, AI, and sophisticated analytics. As a result, it has reduced its energy use by 5% to 10% and is on course to save €8 million to €9 million per year in costs. In numerous industries, such as energy, oil and gas, automotive, consumer products, finance, and pharmaceuticals, there are already well-developed use cases for digital decarbonization.
Companies can use the technological eco-advantage mindset to create a roadmap for new technology adoption, which will help to accelerate the journey to sustainability by helping to entrench sustainability as a fundamental value. Traditional approaches to technology must be rethought, notably in the areas of digitised operations, digital product and service design, cloud computing, IoT, and blockchain, AI and advanced analytics, data sharing, and ecosystem building and management.
Advanced Analytics and Artificial Intelligence generate data and insights on a product's, service's, or process's environmental and social impact. Integrate capabilities, share data, and increase transparency and responsibility among partners via digital platforms. These skills are used by frontrunners to develop and fine-tune offers, engage customers, and improve performance over time. IoT- and AI-based solutions help maximise energy efficiency in real time, cutting emissions and saving money at the same time.
Ecosystems and Data Sharing Data sharing enables new methods of collaboration to discover unique solutions to environmental and social concerns inside or across industries or sectors. Companies may pool resources more easily, bridge competence gaps, enter new markets, and expand their reach. Microinsurance can be delivered through software platforms that integrate insurance underwriters and telecoms providers, for example.
The use of digital capabilities and technologies to break economic limits and unlock innovative solutions was a significant distinction for these forerunner companies. However, success hinges on utilising technology and data from the start. Management should have a forward-looking and strategic view of how advanced technology and data might speed the journey to sustainable advantage before making a large commitment of time, management energy, and company resources.