How digital transformation enables broader sustainability performance – Opinion
Austin, Texas â
Fri 25 June 2021
Over the past year, industries across the globe faced a challenge of unique magnitude and scope. The pandemic presented an immediate threat to business continuity, but it also served as a catalyst for rapid digital change.
Not only has this change helped businesses tackle short-term challenges like the pandemic, but it has opened the doors for an intelligence revolution that will allow even the most unlikely organizations to tackle global issues like climate change and social inequalities.
It’s hard to overestimate how much businesses have had to adapt in recent months. Never before have eight billion people worked together to lock down economies, close borders and restrict movement in the interests of the common good.
According to Scientific journal, human-related seismic vibrations – a useful indicator of human activity across the world – were halved in 2020. It is also well known that gas emissions fell by 17% at the height of the past. global blockages. These rapid turnarounds are truly unprecedented, and they create a platform that is unique in a generation from which to pursue real change.
The so-called new normal has been a moving target since the early weeks of the pandemic, but as businesses and individuals have adapted to new ways of working, they have found that their own priorities change. Even with the vaccines currently being distributed, it is difficult to envision things going back to normal.
The most remarkable business leaders are proactive and forward-thinking, allowing themselves to see opportunities only where others might see obstacles. It is now, in the face of a global crisis, that these leaders begin to realize that a sustainable future is possible through data-driven digital transformation.
It is well established that digital technology is already helping to reduce carbon emissions by up to 15% in the energy, manufacturing, agriculture, construction infrastructure, services, transportation and transportation sectors. traffic management. This offset is equal to the combined carbon footprints of the European Union and the United States combined.
Likewise, when the World Economic Forum partnered with PwC to examine the technology applications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, they discovered that technology can have a big impact on at least 10 of them. If correct, it means that 70 percent of the 169 targets that underpin the global sustainability goals could be achieved using existing technology applications. However, the next 10 years, which many have dubbed the Decade of Action, will be pivotal.
Four of the most common drivers of sustainability in 2021 are climate change, circularity, the shift to renewable energy, and increased transparency and traceability across supply chains. However, if businesses are to tackle these difficult challenges, they must first establish the extent of the problem. In other words, companies must gain a solid understanding of their own environmental footprint before they can take action to mitigate it.
There are countless opportunities for businesses to achieve their sustainability goals, many of which are hidden from view. With the application of new technologies and a data-centric approach to problem solving, even the most unlikely candidates from a wide range of industries can turn the tide.
Take National Grid UK, for example. The company has partnered with AVEVA to find a digital solution to help preserve the reliability of their grid while dealing with the intermittent nature of renewables. Today, the business can process up to 1.2 million data points that are refreshed every five seconds, allowing it to optimize energy traffic in real time.
Nava Raipur, India’s first newly built smart city, is another example of how digital transformation can generate social, environmental and economic value. This real-time management allows a more efficient use of resources such as water, street lighting, electricity and sanitation services, while ensuring the inhabitants of Nava Raipur a safe, ecological and reliable standard of living. . Technology was instrumental during the lockdown, allowing local authorities to keep civic services running smoothly without putting staff at risk.
The past year may have been one of the most difficult on record, but by pushing companies to adapt and adopt technologies they would otherwise have overlooked, new economic, social and sustainability goals can – and will be – achieved.
The author is Director of Marketing and Sustainability, AVEVA.