Thursday, February 29, 2024

Technology in Business Sustainability


Sustainability has been a part of the corporate vernacular for decades. This concept is primarily tied to corporate branding. However, the priority, the investments, and the influence of the champions of sustainability are limited – until today. As sustainability moves up the food chain, some of the world’s most influential businesses have embraced the importance of this shift through technology. Technology brings substance to targets, informs real commitments by leaders and makes organizations acknowledge the real risks of inaction.

Microsoft – a digital media company – recently announced the promotion of sustainability reporting in its operational plan. This elevation underscores the deepening commitment of corporations towards sustainability. As Microsoft’s chief environmental strategist, Rob Bernard explained, “It is an acceleration, amplification, and prioritization of sustainability within the company. It is now a cross-company initiative that has a center of gravity in the president’s office.” This move has fostered other major corporations to move sustainability into the boardroom, indicating rising influences of the position.

What Are the Indicators of Change?

Technology brings substance to sustainability. Horning on to the metrics and actions organizations are taking to meet sustainability goals, LEED, and SGS have been at the forefront. They have helped businesses define their footprint and identify levels of sustainability. However, there is momentum stirring something deeper. Technology is redefining energy use in buildings – a major contributor to most companies’ operational and environmental footprint.

Intelligent building technologies help customers meet the requirements of green labeling and provide ongoing insight into system improvements. The software can provide real-time data at the asset level that ensures efficiency improvements are maintained for meeting sustainability targets. It can also streamline operations, maintenance and deliver data for capital planning, thereby directly improving the bottom-line. 

 The future leaders – the millennials – demand technology. As companies undergo long-term planning and implement strategies for recruitment and retention, they should be aware that the makeup of the future workforce is a hot topic across industry. We have hit the tipping point. According to…millennials make up the largest share of the African workforce. Being the future leaders, they represent different priorities and expectations and are more sustainable. This finding suggests that sustainability will only become a reality in the corporate world as younger workers move up the ladder. 

The threats are real. Taking a looking at sustainability reports for any major corporation, Safaricom for instance, the topic often turns to climate change on page one. Despite all other challenges in Africa, corporations have come to terms with what climate change may mean for their business. In this regard, they are taking a stand in the public arena for climate change action. 

The evidence is clear: Sustainability is becoming a strategic imperative for major corporations. Technology can make sustainability goals attainable and economic. Employees demand it and shareholders are trying it to the bottom line valuation. The remarkable broad-based development now underway is made possible by information technology. Technology has the potential to alter how and where people work, live and thus the nature of the environment we live in. It is changing the way enterprises are managed and improving the efficiency of air, land, and water among other sectors of the economy.

Dr. Edward Mungai
Dr. Edward Mungai
The writer, Dr. Edward Mungai, is a global sustainability expert. He is the Lead Consultant and Partner at Impact Africa Consulting Ltd (IACL), a leading sustainability and strategy advisory in Africa. He is also the Chief Editor at Africa Sustainability Matters. He can be contacted via

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