Right on tech
We’re often told that the key to driving sustainable thinking within a business is to gain a firm commitment from the CEO. In my experience, although the CEO’s commitment is a vital step, creating real change requires transforming this commitment into action. Looking at how business practices can be improved takes both innovation and the capabilities to make this a reality.
In a study by the UN Global Compact and Accenture, 91 percent of CEOs reported that their company would employ new technologies to help meet their sustainability goals. In an age where all of our lives have been touched by the use of information and communications technology, it makes sense that our instinct is to turn to technology for answers when it comes to business transformation. This means that businesses need to look at their IT departments as a function that can drive transformational and sustainable change, instead of adopting the all-too-common approach of treating it as a cost center and a consumer of energy.
IT and sustainability professionals share common characteristics and aspirations. Both are passionate about their field of work, and both want to make a genuine difference within the business. More often than they realize, both sets of goals are aligned – just the language used is very different. Sustainability professionals can be inconsistent in the way they express their aims (EMC’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Kathrin Winkler writes a great blog on this topic), and the IT industry is too often full of jargon, which can make it difficult to agree on – and align – strategies. In this situation, the simplest approach is to look at how IT can address three areas that are both an economic and environmental drain on a business: travel, energy and waste.
- Travel − Using technology to reduce travel is a great way to make sustainable change within a business. Videoconferencing and collaboration tools are now at the stage where they’re both easy to use and reliable. Not only does this lower an organization’s travel costs and carbon footprint, but it also allows for a far more flexible and inclusive workforce. In a survey conducted by Cisco, 76 percent of frequent video collaboration users stated that these collaboration tools improved their work-life balance.
Providing technology is only part of the answer, however. To really make changes, a business must have a program in place to ensure that the technology is adopted, that any cultural change to the business is carefully managed and that savings are quantified. The lack of adoption or of a quantifiable business case can quickly eliminate any potential benefits.
Continue reading: Energy efficiency and waste reduction