Why sustainability and digitization go hand-in-hand

The climate crisis we face today is the result of how we, as businesses, organisations, governments, and individuals, make decisions

To reduce carbon emissions, we must decide to consume less energy and use energy more efficiently. It sounds simple, but we all know that this involves often unpopular decisions making it challenging, especially without the right data.

Digital transformation at the service of sustainability

The pandemic has been an intense accelerator of digital transformation. In addition to ensuring digital customer experiences to fuel the new normal, companies have been forced to digitise infrastructures to bring about greater efficiency, agility, and resiliency.

Today’s digital technologies can help us make decisions smarter, faster, more precisely –all of which is ultimately better for the planet-there are three key enablers:

1. Transparency of Consumption

The Internet of Things (IoT) allows us to collect and analyse energy and resource data, providing insights across systems, buildings, and plants, all the way up to the enterprise-level. With this visibility, electricity and other resources stop being “commodities” that are simply delivered and used when needed. We can measure what we use and control what we measure, matching consumption to actual demand, grid performance, forecasts, and targets. This is the starting point for decarbonisation.

2. Analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

With data-driven insights we can make smart decisions based on measurements and learnings that are based on facts, rather than on intuition. With the right quality and structure of data, AI has the power to automate, or to assist us in making those decisions in real time, changing traditional business processes.

3. Digital Ecosystem Collaboration

No-one can fight climate change alone, just like no-one can innovate alone. Finding the right technology partner is often the fastest, easiest, and most profitable way to achieve ambitious sustainability goals. This is where digital ecosystems can make a big difference. They empower end-users, technology providers and integrators to come together and share data to create more insights, develop new solutions and solve efficiency and sustainability challenges.

Sustainability and digitisation: converging transformations

These three key enablers have one thing in common: They have the potential to change the way businesses operate, and the way people work –in any role, at any level.

This is the crux of digital transformation. The role of a digital leader is to drive that change across the organization. The same goes for sustainability: A successful corporate sustainability strategy needs to be designed and implemented end to end, to accelerate the delivery of concrete results across the business.

What’s more, the two strategies –sustainability and digitisation –must be joined at the hip. If they are, benefits will accrue: According to Accenture, companies that integrate digital and sustainable transformations into their operations and value chains are 2.5 times more likely to be among tomorrow’s best-performing businesses than those who don’t.

The time to act

Electrification and digitisation are inseparable and critical parts of the fight against climate change. Open IoT platforms, leverage digitisation to optimise energy and resource use for its users. Ultimately, that helps us all to accelerate our sustainability and digitisation agendas.

To address this urgent crisis, businesses need to develop and deploy bold, actionable roadmaps and solutions that allow lower energy-related emissions while still meeting world’s demand for energy.

The power of today’s digital technologies, data, and AI can help businesses turbocharge this sustainability transformation. All major economic players, companies such as have an important role to play. The faster and more holistically we act, the better.

About the Author

Peter Weckesser is Chief Digital Officer at Schneider Electric. We drive digital transformation by integrating world-leading process and energy technologies, end-point to cloud connecting products, controls, software and services, across the entire lifecycle, enabling integrated company management, for homes, buildings, data centers, infrastructure and industries.

Featured image: ©Trahko