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Sustainability as the Competitive Edge: Leveraging meaningful IT for business transformation

Strong and meaningful IT implementation helps the CSO to apply business transformation changes and deliver a competitive edge for the business.
5 minutes read
Prashant Sharma


Prashant Sharma
Sr. Regional Sales Director, Head of BD - EU and Africa, Industry NeXT and IoT, HCLTech
5 minutes read
Sustainability as the Competitive Edge: Leveraging meaningful IT for business transformation

'Sustainability' is no longer just a corporate buzzword — it is now a strategic business imperative. Companies integrating sustainability into their core operations and strategies are not only doing good for the planet but also gaining a significant competitive advantage. This shift is evident in the rise of Chief Sustainability Officers (CSOs), who often emerge from within the organization, bringing deep operational knowledge to drive impactful change.

Oliver Blum started his career at Schneider Electric and rose through the ranks to the position of Global CHRO before taking on the role of Chief Strategy and Sustainability Officer. Beatriz Perez spent 25 years at Coca-Cola leading multiple initiatives, including Coca-Cola Operations, before being promoted to the position of CSO. Pia Heidenmark Cook served as the head of communication at IKEA for almost nine years before taking on the role of CSO. These leaders leveraged their intimate understandings of company culture and processes, along with robust IT systems, to guide their organizations towards more sustainable practices.

The power and impact of meaningful IT systems

For most enterprises, a well-designed IT system is the perfect representation of how the implementation of a successful sustainability strategy should look. Such systems facilitate:

  • Recordkeeping: Centralized tracking of enterprise environmental and social impact data
  • Accelerated innovation: Identifying opportunities for sustainable product development and process improvement
  • Streamlined reporting: Generating accurate, timely and contextual sustainability reports for various stakeholders in context to their roles
  • Data-driven insights: Utilizing analytics to uncover trends, optimize operations and help reduce future impacts.

HCLTech’s flagship sustainability-based solution, , is one such meaningful IT system that builds on the fundamental capability of broad-based data consumption and data altercations to provision the visual representation of carbon emissions placed on the industry process. This is fundamental for the internal accountability and reporting of carbon emissions for the enterprise. However, beyond reporting, the systems are designed to advise the production managers to act on the carbon leakage within operations. Process flow metrics as reproduced from NIO’s implementation demonstrate how the power of a strong system of record and reporting helps operations improve performance with respect to carbon emissions.

Image 1: HCLTech NIO solution dashboard

Sustainable supply chains: A competitive differentiator

Beyond optimizing internal operations, building a sustainable and resilient supply chain is crucial for achieving market leadership. To accomplish this, companies are integrating sustainability interactions directly into their IT systems to enable a continuous cycle of planning, action, monitoring and improvement across the entire vendor ecosystem.

This transformative approach involves shifting the role of IT from mere sustainability reporting to a platform for exchanging operationally relevant data. This enriched information flow fuels cognitive tools that can simulate potential risks and suggest preemptive actions to safeguard the supply chain against disruptions.

To illustrate this evolution, consider the following shift. A traditional sustainability reporting model consists of:

  • Minimal interfaces: Limited data exchange focused solely on reporting compliance
  • Reliance on third-party platforms: Information shared annually through platforms like CDP or EcoVadis
  • Batch data exchange: Infrequent data updates hinder real-time insights
  • Limited analytics: Basic recordkeeping with minimal scope for optimization

On the contrary, an enables a new level of transparency and collaboration by delivering:

  • Strengthened interfaces: Direct, frequent data exchange between enterprise and vendor IT systems
  • Near-real-time information: Enabling rapid response to emerging risks and opportunities
  • Expanded data scope: Tracking a broader range of parameters tailored to specific use cases
  • Collaborative AI/ML Development: Cocreating advanced models for risk prediction and proactive decision-making

By embracing this enhanced approach, businesses can transform their supply chains into a source of competitive advantage, driving innovation, resilience and long-term value creation.

Conclusion: The future of sustainable business

The integration of sustainability and meaningful IT is reshaping the corporate landscape. CSOs armed with comprehensive data and insights are driving innovation, reducing costs, attracting top talent and building resilience. Businesses that embrace this powerful combination will be well-positioned for long-term success in an increasingly environmentally conscious world.

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