What’s next in Digital?” I was asked in a conversation with a CXO, recently.
Enterprises leading with a digital-first mindset find themselves, now, at the crossroads of making the next progression – the next that entails the triple-P impact – people, planet, and profit, ensuring environmental, social, and economic viability.
Digital and sustainability, though deeply interconnected, are often viewed independently and in silos. In practical terms, digital promotes and advances enterprises’ sustainability efforts. The convergence of sustainability and digital is pivotal for building a sustainable and resilient future. Both boost each other mutually, specifically in areas of:
- Driving innovation in products and services. Digital technologies foster products and services that are not only pioneering but also meet the sustainability quotient.
- Data, the backbone of sustainability. Enterprises are dealing with a data deluge (compounded further with digital) that can enable them to meet sustainable goals, if used optimally.
- Enabling the future of work. The hybrid world that we live in operates amongst hybrid work models, clouds, and ecosystems. While digital enables these core components of the hybrid world, it also simultaneously helps in promoting sustainability.
- Transitioning to clean and green energy sources. Digital promotes combining green sources and the shift thereof to the sustainable systems.
- Enhancing operational efficiencies. Varied digital technologies bring together the benefits of improved efficiencies and utilization of resources and operations alike, through tech like Cloud, AI, IoT, and analytics, to name a few.
But then the next imperative remains on how to progress on this journey. What are the best practices that enterprises should keep in mind? How do organizations ensure that the digital and sustainability efforts complement each other, while being mutually inclusive? All to accelerate sustainable transformation and innovation! Some key steps below are crucial for future-ready enterprises:
- A clearly articulated and well-established vision. Usually the first step, most organizations fall in the trap of multiple characterizations of what sustainable digital programs mean for them. A clear vision of digital sustainability that entails what it means for the ecosystem and the ESG goals leads to the next step, mostly of associated infrastructure needs.
- Getting the infrastructure ready. While most businesses are digitally-first driven, are they really leveraging technology for sustainability? Investing in technological infrastructure that is sustainable is non-negotiable to all things green. Think of consolidating digital tools that promote data-driven sustainability. Think of IT/OT/ET integrations. Think renewable, think recyclable, think green.
- Responsibility and contribution. Readiness of vision and infrastructure alone is not enough. Organizations must promote participation across the levels of internal and external ecosystems for deep-rooted sustainable digital transformation. Additionally, enterprises must also account for responsible use of resources, specifically in response to emerging technologies and their impact.
- Tracking and measuring success. It is crucial to define the metrics for the success of sustainable transformation programs.
Sustainable digital transformation warrants bringing in ESG priorities on the same page as the organizational goals while keeping in mind the triple-P impact. Enterprises of tomorrow accelerate innovation and develop resiliency, by imbibing sustainability as part of their long-term digital vision.
My answer to the CXO’s question, naturally was, “The shift toward sustainable digital transformation.”