As countries and economies prepare to come out of the pandemic, the way we run businesses will never be the same again, says Bhushan Patil, SVP EMEA, Tech Mahindra.
The pandemic accelerated digital transformation coupled with rapid adoption of ways of working and an increased reliance on technology.
Emerging technologies such as 5G, Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and the cloud have created a huge opportunity for businesses to transform their products, processes and improve profitability. The trick will be to do this while improving the sustainability rating of every business.
IDC predicts that by 2022, 70% of organisations across the globe will upgrade their adoption of digital technologies to boost employee productivity, business resilience and create new revenue streams. At the same time, businesses also have the responsibility to move towards sustainable business models to combat global climate change.
The organisations that succeed in years to come will be those that embed sustainability into the very core of their operations.
Taking action to tackle climate change
Climate change has been high on the news agenda in recent years, with one of the most significant events coming in 2019, when the UK, New Zealand and France made laws that commit them to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. But governments cannot achieve this alone and businesses will play a significant role in achieving their goals of a zero-carbon, resilient and future-proof economy.
Across all sectors, companies are strategising ways to decarbonise their business models to create a greener future. Digital transformation, powered by 5G, Cloud, AI and IoT offer the best solutions to meet these goals.
While there have been concerns around 5G’s energy consumption, its adoption for smart manufacturing and IoT will enable remote monitoring, predictive maintenance, reduction in resource usage and an overall improvement in efficiency throughout the supply chain.
A recent O2 report titled A Greener Connected Future revealed that by implementing 5G solutions, the UK manufacturing sector has the potential to save 40 megatons of carbon emissions by 2035.
Cloud adoption will also drive use of more efficient data centres and the hyperscalers are increasingly running on carbon free clean energy. Google for example, has pledged to use carbon free energy 24/7 for 365 days by 2030.
Not just this, but cloud and AI have proven their sustainable capabilities in industries like healthcare. In the UK, NHS Digital reported that initiatives like moving NHS email servers to the cloud and improving its digital infrastructure could reduce 4,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.
Additionally, by implementing AI solutions during the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors and physicians were able to speed up the process of managing and analysing data, allowing for a quick turn-around in diagnosis and vaccinations, whilst also reducing waste through avoiding administrative processes.
We are seeing increased activism and pressure from consumers and employees alike on businesses to demonstrate their sustainability credentials. In order to be truly sustainable, business leaders must take a stance and operate in a way that aligns with the principles of ESG (environmental, social and governance).
Leading the change
We now live in an era where there is a multigenerational understanding of the importance of sustainability. Unily’s report titled Future of the sustainable workplace in the age of COVID-19 and climate change revealed that 65% of UK employees were more likely to work for a company with strong environmental policies. A further 63% expressed the desire to learn more green skills so that they can become more valuable in the workplace.
Wellness of employees, customers and environment before business will be the best agenda every business leader shall pursue to create a sustainable future. Businesses that can leverage new technologies to drive sustainability will not only see an increase in customer satisfaction but also improvements in operational efficiency and profitability.
Creating a sustainable future
As we look ahead, it’s critical for businesses to consider their responsibility to ensure a greener future.
There now exists an opportunity to take charge and drive a positive change. In order to achieve net-zero, businesses must transform their operating models and leverage new technologies to operate sustainably throughout their organisation.
The author is Bhushan Patil, SVP EMEA, Tech Mahindra.