Author: Pamela C. Sammarco, CEO, Green Training Associates LLC
In Gartner’s Top Strategic Technology Trends 2023 Report, Sustainable Technology has been identified as an immediate opportunity for Information Technology Executives to bring clarity to your priorities and align to your top three business goals:
- Protect and grow your brand.
- Attract and retain talent.
- Grow revenue.
Gartner states that, by 2025, 50% of CIOs will have performance metrics tied to the sustainability of the IT organization. IT executives should anticipate being engaged by your business leaders and stakeholders to align your sustainable technologies with your strategic goals, immediately. This article is just the beginning to help you plan your sustainable technology roadmap.
Let’s dig in on this prediction to explain the business case, technology’s five drivers, the five types of Sustainable Technology, a Power Skills model for how to upskill your IT professionals and the role of organizational culture in Sustainable Technology with three priorities to develop a thriving culture. Who’s ready to get started?!
Digging in on Gartner’s Prediction
The Business Case for IT Executives
Sustainable business practices have four major purposes today:
- Are a corporate obligation.
- Are integrated into profitability models to grow revenue and profit margin by reducing costs and risks.
- Present a strong environmental brand, and
- Are essential for talent recruitment and retention strategies to attract millennial and Gen Z employees.
A KPMG study revealed that sustainability reporting in G250 companies has grown by 2/3rds from 64% in 2005 to 96% in 2020, as stated in the Sept 2022 Forbes Tech Council report. Technology has an essential and multi-faceted role to contribute to your organization’s sustainability and operate your function with a sustainable tech mindset shift. Customers, investors, stakeholders, and employees are demanding transparency, visibility and authenticity in sustainable operations, products, and services.
Let’s quickly define two terms:
- ESG = Environmental, Social, Governance = a broad definition of three interrelated categories of impact that organizations use as a framework for planning, executing, measuring, and reporting your sustainability strategy, manage risks and embrace opportunities.
- Per Gartner: Sustainable Technology is a framework of solutions that increases the energy and material efficiency of IT Services, enables enterprise sustainability through technologies like traceability, analytics, renewable energy, and others; helps customers become more sustainable through apps, software, marketplaces and more.
Next, let’s dive into Technology’s Five Key Business Drivers!
Technology’s Five Key Business Drivers
Given my 15 years’ of Sustainability and 24 years of Technology experience, Sustainable Technology is not a ‘bolt-on’ solution, it is infused into your overall Sustainability Business Strategy for your organization.
Technology has five key business drivers for your organization, and all are infused into Sustainability and Sustainable Technology:
- Partner to enable the Business.
- Drive Efficiencies.
- Reduce Risk.
- Innovate for Market Opportunity.
- Implement ‘change’ internally for employees and externally for your customers.
Technologies will drive much-needed business and ESG outcomes. Your tech innovation process and leading change are foundational to achieve your ESG goals and commitments. To clarify how the five key business drivers connect to sustainability trends and drive value for you, let’s start with your enterprise’s strategic objectives.
Remember Gartner’s definition: Sustainable technology is a framework of digital solutions that can be used to enable ESG outcomes. Let’s look at the three ESG components to give you examples of technology’s contributions:
- Environmental technologies: IT will reduce risk and drive efficiency to prevent, mitigate, and adapt to risks in the natural world.
- Social technologies: IT will partner to enable the business to improve human rights outcomes, well-being, and prosperity.
- Governance technologies: IT will partner to enable the business’ conduct and capacity to strengthen business conduct and capacity building.
All three ESG technologies will innovate for market opportunities and implement change leadership internally and externally. Let’s take these concepts a step further to learn more about the five types of sustainable technologies.
Five Types of Sustainable Technology
We heard Gartner’s Prediction loud and clear: By 2025, 50% of CIOs will have performance metrics tied to the sustainability of the IT organization. Remember that your performance metrics can be qualitative and quantitative metrics that will be derived from the five types of sustainable technologies. Your enterprise organization will rely on your commitment to plan, execute and measure one or more of the five types.
This article jumpstarts your thought leadership with where you proactively embed sustainable technology and collaborate with your organizational partners.
So, what are the five types and some use cases? Here we go!
- Green IT also known as Sustainable IT
- Human Resources Technology & Workforce Automation
- ESG Reporting
- Technological Innovation
- SMART and Green Buildings
1. Green IT Also called Sustainable IT
- Green Information Technologies (Green IT) reduce the environmental impacts associated with conventional Information Technologies (IT).
- Green IT aims to minimize the negative effects of IT operations on the environment by designing, manufacturing, operating, and disposing of servers, PCs, and other computer-related products in an environmentally friendly manner.
- Improve energy efficiency of hardware, data centers, server virtualization, monitoring systems, and other energy intensive IT functions.
- Use of reliable, stored renewable energy sources to power IT operations.
- Recycling of electronic waste.
- Provide customers with recycling and return methods. o Use of sustainable or recycled materials for eq manuf.
Eight Top Green IT companies, from Amplifyre’s 2023 list include Adobe, Sony, HP, Google, Intel, Apple, Philips Lighting, and Amp Robotics. They cover the range of recycling, power grids, robotics, energy efficiency in lighting products, use of solar to power manufacturing operations, and more, to be net zero carbon neutral and completely powered by renewable energy.
All businesses are leaning toward green technology. They are powerful and adept at adapting action plans to shifting conditions. These companies are fantastic examples of utilizing green technologies.
Take a look at Amplifyre’s leading green technology plans.
2. HR Tech & Workforce Automation – three roles
- Human Resources uses Technology – Workday, performance metrics, job applicant technology, computer-led interviews, DEI initiatives, etc..
- And HR is leading Workforce Automation Strategy that aligns your workforce with digital and data trends:
- Artificial Intelligence
- Human-machine partnerships & Robotics
- Job Automation – tech replaces people need reskill/upskill plans and new career paths. Verizon ex. e. o Digital transformation; establish a “data culture” with digital literacy for employees.
- Effectiveness and efficiency in the entire Employee Life Cycle.
- HR roles also include ethics, data privacy and psychological safety.
Munters Corporation is a global leader in energy-efficient air treatment and climate solutions with Munters Corporation’s impressive sustainability strategy. They are an award-winning Swedish company for being one of the most gender equal companies in 2023.
Munters Corporation offers a Long-Term Incentive Program tying incentives to sustainability programs such as employees’ health, safety and well-being and focus on three of the 17 United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Technology plays a role in tracking and reporting of how well Munters is meeting financial targets, increasing the share of renewable electricity in factories, the share of women leaders, workplace accidents, women in leadership, and community service growth.
3. ESG Reporting
- Enterprises report on Environmental, Social, Governance initiatives which is an intensive process of internal & external data collection across all operational systems across both the value and supply chains using tech platforms – either in house or external ESG firms.
- Many do a Materiality Assessment which collects data on ESG topics that are most important to stakeholders and continuously assess strategy and commitments.
- Reports are called ESG, CSR, Impact, Purpose, and Sustainability Reports.
- Companies also must report SEC Climate disclosures and adhere to standards set by various governing bodies. • Sustainable Technology is essential to work with all data owners and stakeholders to prepare your ESG Reports on an annual basis.
Cisco Systems, Inc has a long history of Cisco Systems Inc’s Purpose Reports since 2005. These comprehensive reports tell the journey of pursuing Cisco’s Purpose—to Power an Inclusive Future for All.
The tracking and reporting of many metrics is a technological feat with 18 identified priority ESG topics including people, community, environmental data for describing Cisco’s materiality and results.
Technology is integral to support Cisco’s ESG reporting aligned with standards set by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), the Task Force on Climate related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), and many of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
4. Technological Innovation for ESG impact
In every vertical industry and sector, we’ll find examples of technological innovation to accelerate the pace of reducing ESG impacts. The main benefits of technological innovation are:
- Reduced energy consumption.
- Reduced waste.
- Improved product design and performance.
- Reduced business expenses.
- Eco-friendly agriculture.
- Reduced water consumption and pollution mitigation.
- Reduced air pollution.
- Reduced carbon footprint measured with Carbon calculator software technology.
Many enterprise examples are available:
- Green Manufacturing principles – tracking reduced GHG emissions, improving efficiencies in manufacturing processes, circularity, and life cycle assessment of waste. Top company examples are Adidas, BMW, Umicore, Siemens, and Samsung.
- Climate Robotics, a startup company, is committed to revolutionizing agriculture and reducing carbon emissions. Our innovative robotics technology produces biochar in agricultural fields, promoting soil health and sequestering atmospheric carbon in the ground.
- Apple uses robots for recycling.
- Digital solutions for a Circular Economy where IKEA publicly shares a circular product design guide to assist others in promoting circularity.
5. SMART and Green Buildings
- SMART building technology along with its dashboard enables your enterprise to design, optimize, monitor, track, and report building operating systems like energy efficiency, water conservation, air quality/HVAC, etc.
- USGBC has set Green Building LEED standards and certification levels to reduce environmental impact. You’ll work with your EH&S and Facility Managers to enable technology to assess carbon footprint, retrofit buildings, energy efficiency assessments and more.
Schneider Electric, a leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation, offers the Connected Room Solution that creates modern, engaging environments with responsive, personalized comfort and increased operational and energy efficiency.
Schneider Electric’s Connected Room Solution offers demand-driven ventilation based on the actual occupancy of the space. This people centric solution provides businesses the ability to increase energy efficiency and reduce costs by controlling a room’s environment by counting people in the space and adjusting airflow, ventilation, and energy usage accordingly.
Who are the partners essential to collaborate with IT and why?
To accomplish these sustainable technology plans, you’ll rely on collaboration and coordination with many roles inside and possibly outside your enterprise. Next up is a short and important topic: Your key list of partners for comprehensive solutions.
An essential element of combining sustainability and technology, is cross-disciplinary and cross-functional collaboration that enables an integrated, holistic solution with stakeholder engagement. To be successful in your Sustainable Technology initiatives, I recommend IT executives establish partnerships and working relationships with eleven executives:
- Chief Operating Officer
- Chief Sustainability Officer
- Environmental, Health and Safety Officer
- Human Resources or People Operations Executive
- Building & Facilities Executive
- Supply Chain and Value Chain Management Executives
- Procurement Executive
- Chief Sales Operations Officer
- Chief Customer Officer
- General Counsel
- ESG Reporting Consulting firm (external partner with data collection & reporting platform)
Conclusion: Call to Action’ for IT Executives
Let’s get you prepared! IT executives will be called upon to support enterprise-wide sustainable technology initiatives with the five drivers of technology. All five types of Sustainable Technology are ‘fair game’ for your Technology Goals and Performance Metrics. Four ‘Call to action’ top priorities for IT Executives:
- Discover your Enterprise’s Sustainability Priorities.
- Brainstorm IT’s role in sustainable technologies with your internal and external partners.
- Establish your goals and propose aligned performance metrics.
- Partner with HR to:
- Give HR a seat at the strategic technology table, if HR is not already involved in your enterprise’s digital future, it’s time! ▪ Plan employee redeployment or reskilling, as you automate jobs.
- Develop your IT employees’ power skills to accelerate your strategy.
- Optimize your company culture to improve Inclusivity, Growth Mindset and Sustainable Future.
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Author: Pamela C. Sammarco
Pam is the CEO, Green Training Associates LLC, a full-service Talent Development Firm since 2009. We develop people’s capabilities to solve the world’s challenges and build sustainable organizations. We accelerate growth and optimize workforce retention through Power TQ Skills Solution for Tech Professionals, Emerging Leader Training, Middle Manager Training, DEI Leadership Training, Leadership Coaching, Total TD Solution with Career Paths, Onboarding, and Mentoring Solutions. We help people and organizations thrive and perform at their highest potential. As a learning strategist and solution architect, Pam transforms learning experiences into business impact. With 35+ years corporate training experience, 24 years in Technology, and 15 years in Sustainability, Green Training Associates LLC integrates sustainability into your corporate culture to advance employee performance. Pam’s clients include the corporate, higher education and non-profit sectors. Pam has a prior career with Citigroup, American Express, Lucent Technologies Bell Labs Innovations, Medco Health Solutions. Pam is a Career Dev Board Officer for Women in Cleantech & Sustainability Organization; Pam is a leader on the Women in Green initiative, USGBC MANE Region; Pam is the VP, Leadership & Talent, NNJ Association for Talent Development.