The efforts to build a more sustainable future began with conversation. It’s the first step in driving a greener future and HCLTech wants to ensure these conversations have a place to start.
Through its Tech2Sustain platform, prominent industry leaders can meet periodically to discuss insights and learnings around technology’s role in driving sustainable consumerism.
As the shift towards purpose-based buying by consumers becomes more prominent, it’s important for technology to keep pace with sustainable business practices.
In the platform’s fourth session, leaders met to discuss sustainable consumption and its relevance to business growth, supply chain transparency, addressing sustainable efficiencies to support business growth and what sustainability-led business outcomes look like, among other items.
Supply Chain transparency
Among the first areas discussed when breaking down what is required for a sustainable transformation is transparency in terms of how sustainability is run across the value chain. Technology interventions in the supply chain have helped industry leaders become more effective, efficient and transparent when delivering products and services.
A common thread among industry leaders was the consumer driving transparency into the supply chain. Terry Bouvier, VP for Supply Chain and Operations at Flower Power Coffee noted that consumer demand brought sustainability front and center.
“It was the coffee industry that really brought sustainability to the forefront,” said Bouvier. “Our customers demand and look for exactly how we are sustainable all the way across the supply chain and making sure that we are consistent with our offerings.”
The connections between stakeholders and consumers are a key function of sustainable consumerism and require a significant amount of various technologies and cultural buy-in as information systems become more interconnected and serve larger areas in consumers’ lives.
“Every business decision has technology at the hub of it,” said CIO and Senior VP of Reddy Ice Neelu Sethi. “Developed nations’ information systems are now an indispensable part of most people’s lives and in developing nations, information systems are a means of enabling communication and exchange.”
No such infrastructure has existed before, and Sethi says that it’s a big responsibility for IT and business leaders that now requires more harmony from sustainability and IT. Ensuring IT and sustainability aren’t at odds with one another is a big challenge for leaders now, Sethi says.
How to achieve positive outcomes
What does a good outcome in this space look like? Achieving a good or positive outcome for sustainability requires collaboration at scale with the help of technology.
“We need to demystify [sustainability] to everyone in the organization so that people can embrace it,” said Tanmay Agarwal, VP & Head of Business for Shared Services at Coca-Cola Beverages. “For me, what good looks like is, as an organization, when we take our strategic business decisions on a new product launch, on pricing, on where to locate our manufacturing facilities, what kind of facilities to put in— sustainability needs to become one big element of the decision process.”
This is key for behavior across the organization, Agarwal says. As long as stakeholders and employees enterprise-wide are aware that sustainability is a very important factor in decision making, then enablers will follow suit, which can lead to positive business outcomes.
How innovation can drive sustainability
Making strides in sustainability requires buy-in from the organization and technology tools to achieve sustainability goals as well as requiring innovation and new ways of thinking.
Google, has leveraged their expertise in deep neural learning and semi-autonomous machine learning to continue innovating so that systems for optimization and sustainability become more accurate and more optimized over time, while continuing to learn and improve.
“It’s new innovation and it’s a continuous journey of improving,” said Trinity Lloyd, Global Leader for Sustainability and Energy Transition at Google. “It starts at the very beginning in how we improve our data centers and our activities internally, and continue to improve it.”
Lloyd recommends creating a system of constant change and improvement, then self-check and do self-reflection. From there, organizations should bring customers or suppliers on this journey to share and collaborate. Through sharing and collaboration, she notes, this could lead to more common standards and metrics, which will help all industries understand where they need to go in terms of sustainability.