Digital technologies are critical in delivering an organisation’s sustainability agenda.
A recent report by Bain and Company highlights the “three-part game plan” for utilising digital to achieve sustainability goals by not only measuring and tracking progress, but also driving collaboration and innovation in building a sustainability strategy.
According to the report, “The urgent demand for companies to make progress on sustainability is now coming loud and clear from all corporate stakeholders: customers, employees, investors, and regulators. They expect companies to make sustainability central to their mission, and executives recognise that they need digital technologies to meet those expectations.”
Part 1: Offence
The authors suggest that the first step in the game plan is a creative offense, which allows the organisation to renew its strategy, test and prototype digital approaches and collaborate to meet sustainability goals by developing partnerships and data-sharing protocols.
According to the authors, businesses must consider, How can your enterprise have a positive effect on all stakeholders, and how can you work with the participants in your industry’s value chain to deliver on an inspiring purpose?”
Part 2: Midfield
The next step is to measure the impact of processes that are in place and then use the data to optimise operations through the use of digital tools. This allows for a reduction of waste as well as enabling more effective decision making.
“Armed with good data and tools, organisations augment their ability to make faster, more effective decisions and support new ways of working with more diverse teams and communities. While perhaps unsurprising, these moves are critical to success.”
The authors highlight the $16.6 billion dollar baking company Grupo Bimbo as an example of the role of digital in improving efficiencies and reducing waste.
“Bimbo was struggling with inefficient ordering and waste when it began to test a new ordering system. Combining advanced analytics, machine learning, frontline input, and ongoing feedback, the system improved forecast accuracy by 20% to 50%. This led to a 50% reduction in product waste, a 190-million-unit decline in returns, and a significant improvement in the work lives of frontline employees.”
Part 3: Defense
The third step in the game plan requires organisations to “reskill, protect, and secure” its workforce. This includes ensuring that employees are trained to work with digital tools as automation becomes embedded in the business model, as well as protecting employees and broader stakeholders from risks that may arise as a result.
“The more data driven organisations become, the more important it is to manage data privacy and security well. Safeguarding systems is a must-have, but there are other risks too, including how data is used, and the ethics and integrity of the AI algorithms and platforms used by many enterprises today.”