Many of us think about major topics like the importance of carbon emissions, transitioning to renewable energy, and reducing wasteful items like plastic when it comes to sustainability.
When we consider solutions to solve environmental challenges, these principles are more popular and well-known. Alternative options and strategies, such as increasing walking and cycling, converting to energy-efficient lighting, or choosing electric/hybrid automobiles or solar panels, are also available.
While they must stay at the top of the priority list, it is equally critical to evaluate the role of a more resilient internet and underlying communication network.
COVID-19 has sparked widespread adoption of technology due to our dependency on an increasingly digital environment. Many businesses have replaced office meetings with Zoom calls, digitized their offline processes, and experienced fast digital transformation.
We’ve been able to carry on much as we did before the lockdowns and workplace closures as designers, developers, and others who work in technology. The increased need for digital transformation is wonderful news for the IT sector, and we’re busier than we’ve ever been.
In this article, we’ll take a close look at Digital Sustainability, its significance, and much more. Let’s begin.
What is Digital Sustainability?
Digital sustainability refers to the use of technology in everyday business applications to benefit the environment. People all across the world seek to decrease the harmful effects that digital technology and sustainability can have on the environment, therefore the current movement has gained traction.
To achieve digital sustainability, businesses use advanced analytics and digitalization. Businesses that set digital sustainability as a goal can use digital processes, tools, and forecasting models to weigh possible benefits against the environmental impact of achieving it.
These same businesses can then aim to minimize their activities’ possible environmental impact while still supplying consumers with beneficial goods and services.
Simply, digital sustainability allows organizations to use technology that is environmentally friendly without risking their profitability.
Why does it matter?
As businesses transition to the next generation of smart, data-driven digital technology, there is a growing need to comprehend the whole lifespan of goods and applications in terms of their impact on the environment and society. Let’s look at a simple example of digital application development, such as a file-sharing application.
There would be carbon emissions each time the file-sharing application code was run. The underlying storage and infrastructure would also contribute to the carbon footprint. The file size and the manner in which it is transported across geographies and delivered via numerous hops and networks all contribute to the total.
The way information is presented across numerous devices, as well as the hardware specifications and UX/design, all contribute to the carbon aggregate.
I’ve discussed carbon emissions, but there are a variety of other environmental use cases, such as deforestation, clean water, and so on.
Sustainability development is more than just about the environment; it encompasses a wide range of social and governance issues. Although the use case I mentioned is straightforward, it can be applied to almost all processes, goods, and services across industries.
All of these factors necessitate a rethinking of our processes, goods, and services, as well as a more comprehensive approach to designing, delivering, and governing digitally sustainable solutions.
For example, for a designer, it would mean composing streamlined code.
According to a foundation point of view, it could mean infra modernization, utilizing a green cloud, or utilizing cloud benefits successfully like utilizing serverless engineering.
According to a social viewpoint, it would mean making dependable and moral AI frameworks to planning items that increment maintainability mindfulness, as straightforward as diminishing the document size during a move or web-based video in standard definition rather than superior quality lastly administering the start to finish lifecycle, be it for straightforward announcing for informed choices or making a capable worth biological system.
Impact on the organization of Digital Sustainability
The way businesses function is changing as a result of digital sustainability. Businesses are becoming more environmentally conscious, recognizing the impact that digital operations can have on long-term environmental sustainability.
At the same time, businesses are beginning to recognize the importance of environmental contributions, allowing for digital sustainability plans that include both consumer and environmental objectives.
1. Understand the customers
Customers’ thoughts must be closely monitored by businesses. After all, customer preferences frequently influence how people spend their money. It’s unsurprising that when customers value environmental protection, businesses would seek to make sustainability a public priority. Appealing to consumer attitudes entails proving that you, as a firm, care about the same issues that your consumers do.
A company’s desire to impress clients can lead it to take a certain political stance or maintain a social agenda.
Companies are working overtime to demonstrate that they have comparable interests, thanks to a current focus on sustainability and decreasing one’s environmental effect. Companies can reflect customer desires without jeopardizing their long-term productivity thanks to digital sustainability. Implementing digital solutions that lessen a company’s environmental effect can boost its long-term prospects.
2. Improvised Supply Chain
Consumer product companies frequently rely on supply networks to develop and distribute their items to customers. Companies have always preferred to provide items to clients as rapidly as possible, even if this speed comes at the expense of jeopardizing the environment.
Fortunately, digital sustainability provides a middle ground: businesses can use technology to improve their supply chain operations without negatively impacting both local and non-local environmental contexts. Increased automation is frequently used in digital sustainability projects for supply chains.
Automated technologies can help to improve process efficiency while also increasing supply chain speed and almost eliminating human error. Businesses that shift their online databases to the cloud can also require fewer servers to achieve the same results, resulting in lower carbon emissions.
3. Expand the reach
The same tactics that help firms adopt a net-positive attitude to the environment can also help them increase their client base. Companies that use digital sustainability methods can broaden their influence in this way.
Companies can also use digital sustainability systems to help remote staff in other cases. When feasible, many companies that have had success managing remote teams would choose virtual meetings over in-person gatherings. Remote meetings reduce the need for transportation expenditures and lessen the environmental impact of physical transit.
Similarly, computerized workplaces eliminate the need for paper, ink, staples, and other office materials, which are frequently thrown away after a single usage. Digital resources have a direct beneficial influence on corporate operations: employees can collaborate on the same online resources at the same time, data can be exchanged instantaneously, and internal company communication is eased.
How to improve it?
Having a diligent mindset toward your operations is critical to making digital sustainability work for your company. You should evaluate the present state of your operations, demands, and environmental concerns on a regular basis. It may be worthwhile to form a committee to handle this if you have a large organization.
Fill it with people from each department, since they will have distinct perspectives on what elements of technology can be enhanced and where existing environmental flaws exist. Even if you run a small firm, forming a committee of various people on your staff might give you new insights into digital procedures you hadn’t considered before.
If you’re in the middle of a digital transition, now is an excellent time to meet with software-as-a-service (SaaS) and hardware providers. Discuss your requirements with them, as well as contemporary advances that are targeted toward both productivity and sustainability.
Indeed, understanding what indicators they use in their own firms is vital as part of the reciprocal spirit of responsibility that is at the heart of digital sustainability. Make judgments about forming a relationship based on their willingness to change and improve.
Your efforts should include recruitment as well. After all, employees who aren’t on board with digital sustainability practices aren’t going to be very useful.
The good news is that many job searchers want to work in fields that correspond with their personal ethical views. Indeed, one of the techniques they’ll employ to fill these positions is to do a study on how the sector and individual firms operate with a high standard of moral and social values that align with their own.
As a result, you should include information on your website about your digital sustainability activities, as well as your environmental principles in job advertising. Examine resumes for expertise in digital practices and a dedication to environmentally responsible activities. This can assist you in connecting with the proper individuals to further your growth.
Digital Sustainability Examples
Today, digital sustainability initiatives can be found in a wide range of industries, particularly in businesses that provide client-facing services. Many firms are actively investing in remote monitoring and management software, which allows them to emphasize corporate performance and environmental sustainability at the same time by consolidating IT support with managed service providers.
These organizations can maintain remote workforces while managing employee IT concerns with enhanced IT automation, scripting, and patch management, sparing the environment from the energy consumption consequences of an in-person workplace.
Digital sustainability initiatives can come to characterize practically every industry:
- In a home or business context, smart electrical grids regulate and minimize total energy usage.
- Land use analysis technologies can help to limit deforestation and avoid misuse of land.
- Improved local weather forecasting results in higher annual agricultural yields;
- Recycling techniques that are intelligent decrease landfill contributions while also increasing product reuse.
- Touchless input activates lighting and heating fixtures.
- Improved traffic management and parking structures can help to minimize fossil fuel use while also improving road safety.
Businesses can utilize digital sustainability to establish an industrial ecosystem that incorporates technologies that are both passively and actively helping the environment.
As an entrepreneur, you can profit from frequent monitoring and a thorough examination of how your operations might take advantage of the digital world.