By Sanjay Srivastava, Chief Digital Strategist, Genpact
Ever since climate action has emerged as an urgent global priority, the pursuit of sustainability through Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) initiatives has become a business imperative. Instead of focusing solely on shareholder returns, CEOs today are equally conscious about racial equity, supporting the community and the impact of their products and services on the planet. Moreover, ESG initiatives not only aim to meet sustainability goals, but also drive significant competitive advantage, innovation and financial performance. The best practice is to undertake a holistic and collaborative process to identify the organisation’s sustainability goals and leverage the ecosystem to achieve them.
Data, coupled with analytics, is integral to every stage of this transformative cycle. The key to success for a business in meeting its sustainability goals is the effective deployment of technology and change management. For enterprises, data helps bring together past patterns and generate predictive insights to guide sustainability initiatives. It enables enterprise leaders to effect financial, social and environmental change, lay the foundation for a sustainable future while still achieving business results. A recent ‘Tech for Progress 360: Accelerating climate action with data-led insight study’ showed that executives who are adamant that their companies should incorporate climate-related sustainable practices into their operations are likely to outperform those who do not.
Leaders today have turned to data-driven insights to build resilient, purpose-led companies with a mission to prioritize communities, employees, and the environment, alongside clients. Whether it’s lowering greenhouse-gas emissions, optimizing supply chains, or reducing waste, insights from data can power positive change while increasing business profitability.
By prioritizing data-driven sustainability initiatives, enterprises can stay ahead of new and changing regulatory standards. As a result, they can also capitalize on opportunities for business growth, including attracting investors, increasing customer loyalty and building a strong workforce, since ESG best practices are also helpful in recruiting and retaining diverse talent. With data-driven sustainability, enterprises can identify opportunities to also improve customer services, foster equality, diversity and inclusion, besides reducing energy usage and cutting carbon emissions.
Framework for the future
Embracing data-driven sustainability involves three key steps – first is defining the industry-specific goals. It is critical to take an industry-led approach to achieve the most significant results. The second step is to build a framework. With technologies like machine learning and AI, leaders can rely on data modelling and forecasting techniques to analyse how current processes connect with sustainability goals, such as reducing energy consumption.
The third key step is to combine human and machine intelligence. Success is not just about having the best and latest technology to drive sustainability goals. Human expertise is still critical, and data powers augmented intelligence. Artificial intelligence takes over many data processing tasks, unlocking insights at speed so that teams can make confident data-driven decisions. By following these steps, purpose-led companies can support their communities, be more inclusive, and build more ethical business practices. And through technology and analytics, enterprises are bringing positive change to their broader ecosystems while gaining competitive edge.
Partners in progress
Forward-looking organisations are collaborating with professional firms that drive data-led innovation and run analytics-based intelligent operations to identify and fulfill their sustainability goals. The growth strategy is to focus on both, responding to today’s problems and innovating for future areas of the business. Using digital tools such as advanced predictive analytics, cloud services, AI, robotic automation and seamless user-experience interfaces, the collaborative effort combines process excellence and industry knowledge to yield improved outcomes. Spanning the entire spectrum of the organisation’s operations- from supply chain and customer care, to finance and sales, data-led sustainability practices have the capability to tackle challenges end-to-end. The range of solutions meet the ESG objectives and regulatory requirements, as well as address sustainability imperatives like data management and analytics, carbon accounting, responsible sourcing, human rights assessments, sustainability diligence and ESG reporting.
This collaborative effort extends top-down, across the organisation. This involves putting together concentrated efforts to set up a baseline, outline a set of goals, clearly articulate them to the team and breaking them down into smaller and specific objectives. With a comprehensive and focused data-driven strategy, enterprises can effectively fulfill their business objectives while meeting their sustainability goals, even in today’s dynamic environment.