The Green Digital Transformation: Paving the Way for a Sustainable Future

By Vaibhav Tare, VP & Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) & Global Head – Cloud & Infrastructure Services (CIS) · Fulcrum Digital Inc.

At a time when business landscapes are rapidly evolving, sustainability has emerged as a key driver for companies seeking to navigate the challenges of the modern world.
The last few years have seen a paradigm shift in terms of public and institutional awareness of environmental issues. Businesses have gained a greater understanding of how environmental risks, natural disasters, and resource depletion can adversely impact their profitability and success. This, coupled with regulatory policies from governmental authorities, and a vocal environmentally-conscious consumer base, has compelled organiastions to lay significant emphasis on sustainability initiatives.

This focus on sustainability has evolved in parallel with the digital transformation that has occurred across sectors in recent years. Today, advanced technologies such as AI/ML, the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data Analytics, Cloud & Edge Computing, and more, are enabling organisations to implement and measure the success of sustainability-related projects.

Let us examine a few ways advanced digital technologies are helping businesses drive sustainability.
Process optimisation
Digital transformation can play a key role in streamlining business operations, reducing resource consumption, and minimising waste generation. One of the ways this can be achieved is through creating more resilient physical infrastructure.
For instance, AI-powered remote monitoring & computer vision enables organisations to analyse, predict and prevent issues with their physical assets. Timely maintenance, based on these analytics, will reduce downtime and maintenance costs, and extend the lifespan of the assets. Improved asset maintenance will also help organisations reduce their spare parts inventory, as well as save on energy costs, preventing significant financial and resource wastage over time.

AI-based solutions also prove invaluable when it comes to improving supply chain management. Lack of visibility over the precise amounts and location of inventory often leads supply chain managers to over-order, tying up working capital and causing wastage. By leveraging AI-powered platforms, organisations gain accurate, real-time data on their inventory and its movement through the supply chain. This enables them to avoid unnecessary and wasteful inventory, reduce carbon emissions by streamlining logistics movements, and minimise wastage at every step of the supply chain – across raw materials, finished goods, and spare parts. Greater supply chain visibility also enables organisations to identify supplier risk more and to ensure that suppliers are in compliance with the brand’s ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) guidelines.

Ensuring energy efficiency
Industrial activities require a substantial amount of energy, and this level of consumption has only grown over the decades. According to a report by the International Energy Agency, industrial activity accounted for 38% of total final global energy use in 2021, compared to 33% in 2000. A significant amount of this energy is lost to inefficiency and wastage. Preventing this is another area where digital platforms can prove immensely valuable.
Energy management information systems (EMIS) incorporate energy analysis software and facilitate effective real-time energy tracking and digital energy management. EMIS software is complemented by IoT sensors that collect real-time data from a single industrial unit, or across multiple locations – providing valuable insights to organisations that enable them to optimise energy use.

Edge computing is another key technology that can aid organisations in their sustainability efforts. Edge devices enable organisations to keep massive amounts of raw data off energy-intensive remote servers. This locally processed data is then analysed to derive insights related to energy use, which organisations can act upon to prevent wastage.

Data-driven decision making
As can be seen from the previous two examples, data lies at the heart of digitally-powered sustainability initiatives. Big Data analytics provides organisations with invaluable insights regarding the environmental impacts of production, consumption, and other business operations. This in turn enables leaders to make more informed decisions in line with sustainability goals.
Consider this scenario – having gained visibility into the environmental implications of the organisation’s manufacturing processes, a leader leverages AI to evolve a strategy that optimises the manufacturing process, leading to both efficiency gains and better environmental outcomes. Thus, Big Data, working in tandem with other digital technologies, serves as a powerful tool to achieve sustainable outcomes at scale.
Big Data can also be leveraged to facilitate accurate carbon accounting (i.e. measuring an organisation’s carbon emissions) and to track an organisation’s compliance with its ESG guidelines.
Towards a Greener, Digitally Transformed Future
The potential for advanced digital technologies to drive sustainability is virtually limitless. From blockchain being used to ensure sustainable supply chains, to digital platforms integrating renewable energy sources into electrical systems, and the innumerable applications of Big Data and AI – the ongoing era of rapid digital transformation will pave the way for a future that is both greener and more prosperous.

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