What is the Role of Technology in Sustainable Development?
Over the past few decades, sustainability has completely reshaped consumer behavior as more and more people focus on social and environmental issues. They’re even going as far as expecting businesses to step up, work under sustainability standards, and do their part in protecting the planet.
If you’re a business owner who sees the need for Climate Risk Planning and more green options and solutions, look to technology to accelerate your sustainable goals for this year and beyond.
What’s The Fuss About Sustainability?
According to a survey conducted by the International Institute for Management Development, 22% of respondents said having a sustainability strategy will be important in the future, and 62% consider it a vital element to staying competitive. Customers and investors are putting more pressure on businesses to adopt sustainability strategies that reflect their values.
As businesses and organizations shift toward being purpose-driven rather than profit-driven, it is important to have a “triple bottom line” that considers “people, planet, and profit.” It is also crucial to embrace more concerted efforts from a wide variety of stakeholders to align with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) best practices for long-term sustainability.
Organizations must take a close look at their operations and innovations if they want to shape a sustainable business while keeping corporate ESG goals in mind. Corporate leaders can jump on leading solutions to improve their companies by planning ahead to streamline priorities and business objectives.
One of these leading solutions is technology.
Why Is Technology Important In Sustainable Development?
Technology can serve as a significant accelerator for businesses that are prepared to think broadly about how to advance their sustainability initiatives.
This kind of thinking is referred to as “technology eco-advantage.” This simply means using cutting-edge tools and methods of operation to enable successful solutions that also promote net zero and other ESG goals.
Leading businesses are already achieving sustainable targets thanks to technological accelerators. Here’s how:
- Accelerating Net-Zero Transitions
Many technologies can help lower carbon emissions, including AI, cloud, blockchain, analytics, and IoT. These groundbreaking tools—powered by machine learning—can enable data-driven decision-making to deliver more eco-friendly choices and strategies.
With carbon-intelligent technology, businesses can drive net-zero transitions in three crucial ways:
- measuring the carbon footprints of their products, supply chains, and overall business
- transparently decreasing emissions to ensure valid certification and accreditation; and
- eliminating carbon through carbon and sequestration credits.
Advanced technologies, like cloud-native architectures intended for data-driven optimization processes, help businesses meet their emission reduction goals. But it doesn’t end there as taking these measures and applying these tools and technologies also set new industry standards.
- Promoting Sustainable Options For Customers
While focusing on employing eco-friendly technologies and solutions to minimize your direct impact is a reasonable place to start, companies in many industries experience difficulty downstream, at the level of their customers.
The thing is that you can’t really coerce your customers into making the right decisions. In fact, because people often display an “intent action gap” between their good intentions and the choices they make, the sustainable consumer mass market might never even reach a tipping point.
That’s why brands must take the lead by encouraging customers to make sustainable decisions. You can do this through marketing technology or by making purchasing decisions intuitive. Show them that some of your products and services are more sustainable than others.
You can also look into providing circular products and services. Part of technology’s role in sustainable development is the application of product innovations and value chain solutions to fine-tune everything you’re currently offering. In the long run, encouraging zero-waste products enhances ROI and creates new revenue streams.
- Measuring and Reporting ESG Goals
Today, the majority of businesses understand how important ESG metrics are. It’s a good thing technologies like AI can be useful in this regard!
Of course, the best way to go about this is to first define your ESG KPIs and report them effectively. This means you’ll need to gain insight into what matters to your stakeholders. After all, every decision within organizations must be based on facts.
With data-based insights, you can rewrite your ESG metrics into easily understandable goals and KPIs. Then, you can leverage this and use marketing technology to create campaigns that will capture your audience.
- Fostering A Collaborative Environment
Every business and organization starts with the belief that it can make an impact and that it has a worthwhile idea. The thing is that collaboration is needed to effectively move the needle. If leaders from the public and private sectors collectively believe that the only future is a sustainable one, they must work together and overcome obstacles to advance the drive toward sustainability.
Across the board, we’re already seeing new forms of open collaborations between partners and competitors from various industries. In fact, a Global Leadership Study revealed the following findings: in digital ecosystems, 80% of respondents from top-performing organizations reported they engaged with competitors, and 55% of leaders in the poll had plans to increase their level of competitor collaboration.
It’s a good thing that teamwork and collaboration can be enhanced by technology. Thanks to cloud computing, employees can now view, share, edit, and upload data with other internal team members and external partners regardless of their location.
Businesses can also use project management tools to help all important stakeholders keep track of every stage of the project.
- Ensuring A Sustainable Organization
Right now, your sustainability practices need to be scaled across your entire organization. This means incorporating sustainability into your organization’s DNA, which is closely linked to both your ESG performance and profitability.
An organization’s sustainability DNA is shaped and influenced by a variety of actions, such as promoting inclusion, diversity, and equality within the business, cultivating a learning culture, and using emerging technologies for problem-solving without creating harmful side effects.
One way to do this is to get your employees involved by democratizing access to technology and shifting to hybrid work.
What Tech Accelerators Can Businesses Leverage To Push Their Sustainability Goals Forward?
Having a technology eco-advantage mindset helps businesses create a plan for implementing new technology that will hasten the transition to sustainability by helping to embed it as a core value.
Remember that the key to implementation is rethinking conventional technological approaches. This includes blockchain, IoT, and the cloud; digital product and service design; digitized operations; data sharing and ecosystems; and the application of AI and advanced analytics. Let’s dissect each of these below.
Choosing Better Decisions By Leveraging Blockchain, IoT, and The Cloud
Blockchain-powered tracking systems, cloud-based data platforms, and IoT-connected sensors and monitors are just a few examples of cutting-edge digital tools and technologies that create new opportunities for quantifying and monitoring environmental and social effects along value chains.
Companies, in turn, can enhance their management and investment choices as well as their performance in relation to their ESG objectives.
Offering Solutions By Creating Digital Products & Services
Leading businesses develop new channels of distribution that overcome financial barriers to increase their reach, scalability, and accessibility for a positive societal effect at reasonable prices.
One example that we can already see in full effect is the use of apps to digitize and simplify access to essential products and services.
Ensuring An Effective Workforce with Digitized Operations
Leaders in this area have already created operations and processes that are intrinsically more sustainable, and as a result, they are rewarded by consumers and investors.
Some great examples of these are found in new manufacturing or materials technologies that use alternative inputs to decrease emissions and waste.
Additionally, digitized operations can increase corporate resilience; some of the technology and procedures that have come out of these practices have even become industry standards.
Encouraging Collaboration With Data Sharing and Ecosystems
Technologies like open data sharing enable new forms of collaboration within or across companies or sectors to create innovative answers to pressing social and environmental problems. With these solutions paired with marketing technology, you can expand your reach, bridge capability shortages, access new markets, and pool resources more easily.
For instance, software solutions that combine telecommunication companies with insurance underwriters can offer underserved populations microinsurance through phone subscriptions.
Improving Products and Services with AI and Advanced Analytics
What’s great about AI and advanced analytics is that they generate data and insights regarding the social and environmental effects of a certain product, service, process, or even a business as a whole. Digital platforms enable partners to collaborate, share data, and operate transparently and responsibly.
Leaders can use these capabilities to build and fine-tune offers, engage customers, and improve performance over time. IoT- and AI-based solutions also enhance energy efficiency in real-time, decreasing emissions and saving money all at once.
The Future Looks Brighter With Technology in Sustainable Development
We’ll definitely see more of these organizational structure changes in the coming decade, with environmental, social, and corporate governance issues becoming vital parameters even for small and medium-sized businesses.
Technology is playing an increasingly important role in how businesses advance the sustainability movement. With these tools, solutions, and strategies, businesses can effectively reduce their impact on the environment.
It’s exciting to see how far we can go with these technologies, as they will unquestionably play a significant part in improving the quality of life for future generations.
For more insightful articles about sustainability, check out the Unsustainable Magazine today!
I am a freelance writer from Manila. I find joy in inspiring and educating others through writing. That’s why aside from my job as a language evaluator for local and international students, I spend my leisure time writing about various topics such as lifestyle, technology, and business.