March 31, 2022 - Blog

Sustainability Improvement: Go Beyond Buzzwords with Technology Transformation

Using Technology to Put Words into Action

In 1987, the United Nations Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”  Today sustainability is a key and core societal trend that requires organisations, citizens and government to proactively adopt and provide evidence of tangible, behavioural change for the current and future benefit of all.

According to Forbes; although 90% of executives think sustainability is important, only 60% of companies have a sustainability strategy. Organisations can no longer use “sustainability” as a fashion statement to associate themselves to a trend; it’s now a corporate way of life. CEO’s are coming under increasing scrutiny on carbon emissions, how these are offset, what the path is to net zero and what businesses need to adopt to curb climate change.

Customer vs Corporate Perspective

Consumer and customer pressure is placing significant emphasis on sustainability, and has been for some time. Studies by Nielsen indicate that 66% of consumers would spend more for a product or service if it came from a sustainable brand. In addition, 81% of global consumers feel strongly that companies should help improve the environment.

When considering corporations, HSBC conducted a global corporate survey on over 9,000 companies (including 1,000 UK based companies) which found that three-quarters of British firms believe that they have a role to play in delivering sustainable development goals (SDGs). Of these, 28% believe that their role is significant. The survey concluded that the main reasons why firms are choosing to become more sustainable is as follows:

  • To improve operational efficiency (26%)
  • To meet regulatory standards (26%)
  • To gain a reputational advantage (24%)

Critically, 31% of businesses have identified that in order to deliver their future sustainability goals an investment in technology, innovation, and infrastructure is a top priority.

Supporting and Addressing Procurement Challenges

Many procurement marketplaces directly challenge a potential suitor’s credibility, policy and “referenceability” when it comes to demonstrating sustainable business practices.  Sustainability can no longer be used merely as a marketing veneer; there is a need for tangible and durable evidence of sustainability credentials. Importantly, “doing the right thing” is increasingly significant  for customers, and so championing environmental credentials can significantly improve an organisation’s brand image.

Defining Suitable Business Strategies

As a result of the above, many organisations have “hung their hat” on being net zero or carbon neutral in key timescales. However, often these aspirations lack the detail and the tangible plan to get them there.  Practicality and pragmatism is very important but maintaining velocity is key to achieving your end goal. This means executives must consider sustainability when defining relevant business strategies. Whether this comes from minimising your carbon footprint to ensuring overarching business practices; aligning the values and responsibility of the business is essential.

The current global economic pressures further emphasise the importance of energy costs in corporate financials. Energy cost expenditure for power, cooling and other operational activity is a significant element of organisation IT costs. Such IT energy costs alone represent a significant percentage of overall corporate expenses and carbon footprint accountability.

The Pathway to Success

Decomposing Monolithic Challenge

So, to achieve success , how do you find ways to “eat the elephant” and breakdown such monolithic cost areas? How can positive IT transformation help your business become more sustainable?

It is important to break down the major challenges into a number of manageable, well-defined initiatives. Projects that are individually achievable can jointly deliver strong results.  Coupling the aggregation of environmental gains often means the total outcome is greater than the sum of the parts, thereby supporting Aristotle’s theory of the same premise.

Example initiatives to consider include:

  • Migrating existing on-premise or third-party hosted solutions to the cloud
    When moving to a centralised commodity cloud-based architecture, your business will use less energy. Reducing the environmental impacts of running parallel, under-utilised and non-environmentally optimised data centres. There are key “economies of scale” benefits which, in turn, can lead to improved environmental sustainability profits from increased efficiencies. Thereby offering an opportunity to invest in further sustainable initiatives.
  • Reduce paper dependencies by digitalising processes
    Utilise digitalisation techniques and technology to modernise existing processes. By using technologies to deliver more operationally and environmentally efficient ways of working to your end-to-end processes, you will see improvements such as reduced waste, contactless user interactions, improved business resilience and lower operating costs.
  • Measure and Enhance Value Chains
    It is critical for organisations to define and implement KPIs which measure not only their own environmental sustainability, but also the alignment and contribution made by suppliers and approved third parties. This is enabled by embracing digital supply chain processes and platforms as well as the adoption of IoT, Blockchain and data insight solutions. These digital technologies provide new capabilities, as well as the potential to support the detailed measurement, tracking and accountability of environmental and social impact across value and supply chains. Helping businesses to improve management and investment decisions, whilst enhancing their performance against sustainability goals. As part of this improvement activity, suppliers further upgrade their own efficiencies, sustainability and reduce their own environmental impact.

Practice What You Preach

The Version 1 Sustainability Commitment

At Version 1 our environment and sustainability goals are particularly ambitious. This is because we know that firstly, it’s the “right thing to do”. And secondly, our business model is inherently sustainable. We firmly believe that if we push ourselves that bit harder, we can achieve that much more. With the full support of the employees, Board of Management and Shareholders, Version 1 became a Carbon Neutral company in 2021. And more importantly, set a target to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2025. All in line with calculations and science based targets. 2021 was the year Version 1 made our climate commitments, 2022 & onwards will be the years that we hold ourselves accountable.

According to the World Economic Forum, “Net Zero means trusting partners you haven’t met and technology that doesn’t exist”. We are in a moment of exciting optimism, where the connection between political awareness, corporate responsibility, public opinion, and technical innovation is lining up. And at Version 1 we have the capacity, expertise and passion to innovate, disrupt and set the standard in sustainability. To learn more on our efforts we have planned, you can view the Version 1 environmental strategy, here.

Would you like to learn more? Please get in touch

Differentiating your business successfully means leveraging technology and data from the very start. In our next blog we will showcase how we have made a positive, environmental and sustainable difference to our customers. To find out more about how, through technology and advanced data management, we can help accelerate your organisation’s sustainability impact; just drop us an email and we’ll be in touch.

About Version 1

As the chosen Digital transformation provider of central governmental departments, local government authorities, leading energy companies and major retailers – the impact of Version 1 digital solutions is evident at scale across multiple industries. We are leading the charge in empowering our public and private sector customers to become recognised as digital leaders.

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