Government and healthcare (both 44%) are the most likely to cite emerging technologies’ positive impact on measuring their organizations’ environmental impact. However, assessing their suppliers’ environmental impact — ever more important given the need to report Scope 3 emissions — is regarded as relatively less important in government and healthcare but as a major benefit among manufacturing and energy respondents. While industries are alive to the potential for emerging technologies to help measure performance and progress, the breadth of their ambition — whether their focus is on their own organization or extends to accommodate their supply chain — differs.
Conclusion and next steps
ESG considerations are already feeding into businesses’ technology investment decisions, and sustainability needs are set to become a dominant factor in their technology vendor choices. So far, so good. Yet CIOs can do more to help ensure that high levels of expectation translate into long-term value creation:
1. Prioritize emerging technologies and the sustainable benefits they can deliver
While organizations are alive to a range of sustainability benefits unlocked by new technologies, it is critical that technology leaders focus their ambitions. Technology leaders should prioritize and phase the key ESG outcomes they are seeking and decide upon the optimal technologies that can deliver them, taking care to explore the combined impact of different technologies.
2. Build a robust framework to evaluate the environmental implications of your emerging technology strategy
Evaluate the carbon intensity and energy efficiency of your portfolio of emerging technologies and ensure your framework clearly links to overarching targets relating to reduced IT energy consumption across your organization. Take care to assess how migration to newer technologies and standards can enhance sustainability across your organization’s technology estate.
3. Work with your leadership team to ensure that technology considerations inform all aspects of your organization’s sustainability agenda
Close collaboration with other leadership roles and functions will help ensure that the role of new technologies in accelerating ESG goals is understood by all parts of your organization. This will help ensure that existing digital transformation roadmaps remain fit-for-purpose as sustainable principles become an increasingly important driver of them.
4. Ensure that sustainability is a guiding principle of your technology supplier and ecosystem relationships
CIOs are already prioritizing sustainability capabilities as attributes they seek in technology vendors. Building on this, it is vital that organizations put sustainability at the heart of their dialogue with their broader partner ecosystems. While technology investment decisions and vendor choices are already made with sustainability in mind, there is scope for greater collaboration on circular business models and shared ESG commitments going forward.
5. Target emerging technology use cases that are sustainable by design
Many businesses already have long-standing IoT initiatives, and these are increasingly complemented by the fast-growing adoption of 5G and edge computing. Use cases and deployment models should have sustainable outcomes built in. To achieve this, CIOs should consider how emerging technology use cases can deliver benefits to employees, partners and customers alike and create the right feedback loops with technology vendors to turn vision into reality.