As the world progresses, new technologies have the potential to help us move closer to a sustainable future. But what do business leaders need to know about these technologies. After all, they need to make informed decisions about incorporating them into their operations and strategies.
As sustainable technology becomes more prevalent, leaders need to be informed about the options available and how they can be incorporated into their operations. “We need to tie sustainability to economic outcomes and put a dollar value on the high-impact actions a company takes to sustainable solutions”, said Terence Mauri, MIT Entrepreneur Mentor in Residence, in an email. “CEOs and boards must have moral and business imperatives to care about long-term. The opportunity lies in business leaders and investors being able to tie sustainability data directly to economic conditions”.
Mauri believes that companies are beginning to see the importance of sustainable technology and are working to develop more sustainable practices. He may be right. IBM has developed a system to help farmers use less water and fertilizer while maintaining crop yields. Other companies are working on developing sustainable packaging. For example, Nestle Waters North America has developed a paper-based water bottle that is fully recyclable and uses significantly less energy to produce than traditional plastic bottles. Meanwhile, Amazon has pledged to be “net zero carbon” by 2040 and 100% renewable by 2030. And Goldman Sachs has committed to investing $750 billion in sustainable businesses by 2030.
“Many sustainable solutions such as these require investment and may have a higher upfront cost, but they often provide long-term benefits like saved energy costs or improved employee productivity,” said Huda Khan from the University of Aberdeen and Richard Lee from the University of South Australia, in an email. Khan recently conducted research explaining why firms should pursue green technological innovation — it leads to improved environmental outcomes and business performance. This assertion is shared by Nadia Zahoor from the Queen Mary University of London and Zaheer Khan from the University of Aberdeen, who said in an interview that “businesses should consider sustainability as part of a “strategic opportunity” rather than purely from a compliance perspective.” Zahoor’s research findings suggest that business collaborations offer environmental learning conducive to identifying and exploiting ecological threats and opportunities for environmental innovation. Based on a second study, both researchers also contend that sustainability is a complex issue, but it is one that business leaders need to start taking seriously. Here’s how.
Account for The Hidden Cost of New Technology
The first step in creating a sustainable development plan for your company is taking stock of where you’re. Measuring your sustainability can come from metrics like carbon footprint, energy consumption, and supply chain miles. “If you want to measure your future sustainability, it’s also essential to look at the impact of new technologies you’re using,” said Emma Collins, the CEO and co-founder of Safetradebinaryoptions, in an email. Many new technologies have hidden costs that are often left out of sustainability calculations. For example, AI is a technology that has created immense value for businesses, whether it’s driving personalized product recommendations or informing anti-money laundering software. However, AI systems need to process an immense amount of data, requiring a company to increase its energy use.
In addition, other technologies that can help companies increase the efficiency and quality of their products, such as blockchain, can harm a carbon footprint. Even technologies created to improve sustainability can have hidden costs. For example, producing solar panels requires substantial water and energy. And although electric vehicles have lower emissions than traditional gas cars, the manufacturing process for batteries can be quite polluting. When considering new technologies, it’s essential to view the product’s entire life cycle, from production to disposal. This will give you a more accurate picture of the sustainability of the technology and help you make better decisions about which technologies to pursue.
Use Technology to Increase Your Sustainability
Once you can measure and understand the impact new technologies have on your sustainability goals, you can look for opportunities to use new technologies sustainably. If you’re partnering with other companies to develop energy-heavy technologies like AI or blockchain, look carefully to ensure you’re partnering with companies that prioritize sustainability. For example, Google is developing technology to maximize energy efficiency and reduce waste and has developed an AI system that can predict failures in data centre cooling systems, which account for a significant amount of energy use. And they’re not the only ones — many tech companies are now incorporating sustainability into their product development cycles. In other words, companies cannot simply purchase the latest sustainable technology and expect it to achieve their sustainability goals. Instead, they need to be thoughtful about how they use technology and ensure that it is integrated into their overall sustainability strategy.
Look at the Big Picture
Sustainability is about more than just technology. To be sustainable, companies must look at the big picture and understand how their actions fit into the larger world. Fortunately, there are many ways to do this. One popular method is sustainability reporting, which allows companies to measure and track their progress on specific sustainability goals. This information can help companies decide where to focus their efforts and how to use their resources best.
Sustainability reporting can also help companies tell their sustainability story to the public, which is an integral part of promoting sustainable business practices. After all, if consumers and investors don’t know that a company is working towards sustainability, they won’t be as likely to support its efforts. There are many different types of sustainability reporting, but one of the most popular is the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines. These guidelines provide a framework for companies to report environmental, social, and economic impacts. In addition, many companies use these guidelines to produce annual sustainability reports, which they then make available to the public. The GRI guidelines are just one example of the many resources available to companies that want to improve their sustainability reporting. Several software programs and online tools can also help with this process. No matter what type of sustainability reporting a company chooses to use, the important thing is that they are taking action and working towards their goals.
Ultimately, technology is just one piece of the puzzle regarding sustainability, but it’s essential. Companies can significantly impact the world by using technology to increase efficiency and reduce waste. In this way, technology can be a powerful tool for promoting sustainability on a global scale. And as more and more companies adopt sustainable practices, we will all benefit from a cleaner, healthier planet.