Lots of talk is happening, but not enough action.
That’s according to IBM’s report on Sustainability as a transformation catalyst.
And it may be true. There appears to be a continuous theme of companies seeing sustainability as a top priority but not being effective in achieving their environmental sustainability goals, indicating that becoming a truly sustainable enterprise is hard.
Based on a survey of 1958 executives across 32 countries, comprised of C-level executives where their responses reflect how they are acting throughout industries like electronics, automotive, petroleum, agriculture, industrial machinery, representing turnover ranging from $250 million to over $20 billion.
‘While 86% of companies have a sustainability strategy, only 35% have taken action on that strategy.’
How is digital helping companies improve sustainability reporting?
Achieving sustainability demands transformation, which comes through implementing digital technologies, data and metrics.
However, the respondents’ revealed one of the biggest challenges for improving their sustainability strategy was facing customer resistance. Often, customers don’t want to pay for more expensive products or services, something sustainable alternatives often are, thus contradicting their want for more sustainable offerings.
Additionally, they face technology challenges: solutions are often not deployed sufficiently. Even though they are advancing rapidly, trying to use them at scale within organisations and supply chains is challenging.
Which digital technologies help with sustainability?
More than 50% of organisations cite IoT, cloud tech, AI and other technologies as important to advancing their sustainability objectives.
Companies are using technologies to achieve operational sustainability initiatives (ERP, IoT, AI, RPA, cloud). Whilst many respondents are using mobile, ERP and IoT technologies, there is still a smaller uptake in automated solutions like AI, RPA and computing, perhaps reflecting the difficulty in implementing them so far.
Sustainable change makers committing to execution and digital transformation are helping companies succeed, instead of being ‘all talk’, where stakeholders like to see action being taken by these Transformation Trailblazers.
Transformation Trailblazers stand out from their peers in 6 primary areas:
- Leveraging sustainability as a catalyst for transformation.
- Tapping the potential of emerging technologies and data.
- Embedding sustainability within operations and the wider organization.
- Broadening C-level and CEO involvement and responsibility.
- Collaborating with ecosystems and supply chains.
- Engaging employees and customers.
Companies investing in sustainable solutions and methods
Whilst it may take a while for some companies to see the benefit of investing in sustainable solutions, they are benefitting the planet in the long run. Yara is building a digital farming platform which will help avoid further deforestation by increasing food production on existing farmland. Meanwhile BP is decreasing its oil and gas production by 40% by the end of the decade, instead investing nearly $5 billion in quantum computing solutions and low-carbon alternatives.
- Invest! Invest! Invest! Digital solutions are easing the way forward for companies
- Focus on achieving sustainable endeavours
- Embed and utilise data
- Turn the talk into action – your stakeholders will thank you for it
- Time – customers need time to get used to new ways of using technologies
- Look at your business model – is it time to reinvent the wheel?