Gone are the days when companies could claim to be climate conscious simply for eliminating paper in their offices. Corporate sustainability requires complex and impactful changes to company policies and practices, which often means adopting advanced technologies that make operations more efficient.
While executives would do well to hire sustainability experts who understand more about sustainable strategy and technology, business leaders might begin to make effective changes by adopting some of the technologies used in sustainability programs. In most cases, the best tech for sustainable initiatives is also the tech most likely to provide an organization with digital maturity, allowing a company to operate with greater efficiency and effectiveness in a marketplace that is likely to become more reliant on digital tech in the future.
That tech includes:
In 2022, only just over half of all organizations have migrated workloads to the cloud. Small businesses are much less likely to take full advantage of cloud computing — which means that small business leaders can take a major step toward greater efficiency and sustainability by moving some of their data and processes to the cloud. Research shows that cloud services can improve the energy efficiency of computing by up to 93 percent, as cloud servers tend to be more than 98 percent more carbon efficient than local servers, according to the same Microsoft-WSP study. What’s more, cloud computing gives employees greater flexibility in the time and location of their work, which can increase staff morale and loyalty. The cloud is a relatively mature technology, so executives can have confidence in the benefits they will receive from integrating it into their sustainability program.
Emergent around the same time as cloud computing but adopted by much fewer businesses, big data is a term describing the capture and analysis of large volumes of diverse, high-velocity data. Big data can be utilized in the pursuit of any business goal, as it provides business leaders with a wealth of valuable insights to inform their decision-making processes. Like cloud computing, big data has been available to executives for some time, but in 2022 only about a quarter of companies make effective use of big data analytics. Big data could be essential in guiding business leaders to develop the most effective sustainability program for their organization, so the sooner leaders learn to adopt big data tech and techniques, the better.
According to the Environmental Defense Fund, the technology seeing the greatest investment from business leaders interested in sustainability is artificial intelligence. Though far from mature, AI has already demonstrated the potential to improve efficiency and eliminate waste in certain organizational processes. Further development of AI is likely to result in advanced AI systems capable of delivering business leaders with outstanding insights to push sustainability programs forward.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of objects that can collect data, perform actions and communicate with users. Industrial IoT has the potential to provide much more visibility and control over organizational processes, which means that business leaders have greater authority to implement effective sustainable practices. Fears about IoT security have stopped many business leaders from investing in this tech in the past, but improved security measures and increasing pressure for advanced tech adoption are driving greater business investment in IoT.
One of the newest technologies to demonstrate potential in corporate sustainability initiatives, blockchain is a form of digital ledger in which information is added in fixed blocks that are saved across the network on every user’s device. Though the most popular use of blockchain, cryptocurrency, is decidedly unsustainable in that producing crypto assets demands an exceedingly large amount of energy, some companies expect to rely on blockchain tools to ensure accuracy of reporting in environmental, social and governance standards. Already, large corporations have integrated blockchain systems to monitor their supply chains, which indicates that this could be a valuable technology for a sustainable business future.
Business leaders can learn a significant amount of what they need to know about sustainability strategy technology from high-quality online courses. Through education, executives can put the above technologies to good use and maintain sustainable business practices into the future.