Building sustainable businesses requires investments in technology solutions that scale environmental, social and governance (ESG) outcomes.
A recent Gartner report outlines a sustainable technology framework that executives can implement in order to mitigate natural risks, improve wellbeing and strengthen governance.
A Gartner CEO survey in mid-2021 reveals that leaders are focusing on sustainability in their business agendas as a top 10 priority, as customers, investors and employees seek holistic business outcomes.
According to the authors, “We would suggest 'sustainable business' as a more holistic business priority, one that also includes social and economic factors.
“But executing against strategic ambition, creating momentum and achieving scale with sustainable business pose enormous operational challenges.”
The authors argue that spreadsheets are not enough when it comes to tackling ESG issues.
“Spreadsheets don’t scale, and they can’t deliver many of the sustainable business outcomes executives need. For example, spreadsheets can gather data on human rights. But spreadsheets can’t enable product traceability to evaluate whether fair labour practices have been followed or not. Executives need technology to deliver and scale sustainable business,” they said.
The report encourages businesses to leverage environmental technologies such as those that support waste reduction, biodiversity and water security to support risk mitigation and business adaptation.
These include energy technologies such as green hydrogen, advanced biofuels and nuclear fission, circular economy technologies including blockchain traceability product life cycle management (PLM) software, biodiversity technologies such as computer visions, AI and drones, water technologies including desalination, smart metering and smart irrigation, and food technologies such as livestock methane capture and vertical farming.
Social technologies enable business to improve societal wellbeing and span across health, education, humanitarian, participation, poverty, and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Some examples include telehealth, digital learning, disaster warning systems, rural financial technology, and AI to predict disease outbreaks.
Finally, governance strategies include risk technologies, legal and compliance technologies, identity technologies and privacy technologies.
These that can assist with threat mitigation, support transparency and ethical decision making, increase workforce security, and protect personal data. Examples include ESG software, environmental, health, and safety (EHS) software, biometric authentication and privacy management tools.
Gartner’s framework asks businesses to determine the most significant material issues facing the company, identify sustainable technologies to address them, and discover technology gaps were new technology can be a support.