How sustainability initiatives can be strengthened by technology

Monday, 28 November, 2022

How sustainability initiatives can be strengthened by technology

As organisations across the world look to better their environmental, social and governance (ESG) impact, taking these goals from concept to reality is the modern-day business challenge.

Overcoming this challenge is critical for businesses to continue moving forward, as consumers become more conscious of a company’s ESG commitments and are making active choices based on these goals.

Accenture’s Ben Tullock, Google Cloud Business Group Lead for Australia and New Zealand and Romain Groleau, Technology Sustainability Lead for Australia and New Zealand speak to how companies can drive sustainability initiatives and achieve ESG goals through technology.

Taking things digital

“The carbon intensity of a business can be quickly and efficiently lowered by switching to digitised activities,” says Romain Groleau, Accenture’s Technology Sustainability Lead for Australia and New Zealand.

“As we digitise business activities, we see additional benefits including optimised production, maximised loads on vehicles and minimised waste — ensuring effective delivery of customer needs.

“It’s critical to note though, that technology implementation can negatively impact carbon emissions if sustainability principles are not integrated. At the core of technology implementation, green software and green data and artificial intelligence principles contribute to furthering sustainability to help organisations meet ESG objectives,” says Romain Groleau.

The role of Chief Technology Officers

According to a recent Accenture research report Uniting Technology and Sustainability: How to Get Full Value From Your Sustainable Technology Strategy, currently, more than half of Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) are not involved in defining, planning or initiating company sustainability goals. According to Accenture’s Ben Tullock, Google Cloud Business Group Lead for Australia and New Zealand, CTOs can help an organisation reach their ESG goals in several ways.

“As leaders, it’s the responsibility of the CTO to pave the way and show what’s possible in terms of going digital, automation, analytics and advanced application of technology,” says Ben Tullock.

“With the power to provide the platform capabilities that can help businesses accelerate change, the CTO has a significant role to play in enabling ESG priorities. It’s critical that CTO’s embrace this power by taking part in planning activities to ensure technology is considered while a business plans its sustainability initiatives.

“There’s an opportunity right now for CTOs to educate and enable their colleagues and senior business stakeholders on what technology can do to further their organisation’s sustainability,” says Ben Tullock.

Integrating digital, data and artificial intelligence solutions

The technology needed to drive efficiency, customer experiences, insights and automation already exists and these capabilities are often applied to sustainability problem sets.

“Digital, data, cloud and artificial intelligence solutions have evolved significantly over the past five years, becoming mainstream solutions in helping organisations achieve business agendas,” says Ben Tullock.

“These solutions need to be applied at the foundation level as technology is implemented, in order to drive more sustainable business models.

“Built with democratisation at the core, these solutions are available to a large range of users and building artificial intelligence solutions does not require as much effort and capital,” says Ben Tullock.

Steering away from greenwashing

As consumers become more aware and educated on ESG, businesses need to place more emphasis on authenticity and ensuring their actions aren’t viewed as greenwashing. Romain Groleau believes the same rigour that goes into ensuring the accuracy of a business’ financial data should also be applied to sustainability data.

“For Chief Technology Officers it’s critical to establish trusted sources of data and data models that represent the facts,” says Romain Groleau.

“Not only can technology solutions drive sustainability initiatives, but the right technology platforms can help companies minimise the risk of double counting, or under reporting.

“Data and platforms that are fit-for-purpose, with the right design and integrity, can enable visibility of scope 1 and scope 2 emissions while also providing insights into scope 3 emissions and how these can be reduced,” says Romain Groleau.

Accenture’s real-world application for Origin Energy

Currently embarking on a once-in-a-lifetime energy transition, Origin Energy’s sustainability objectives are critical to its business. One major focus area for Origin Energy is the potential for more Australian households to switch to solar power.

Origin Energy came to Accenture with an aim to eliminate the barrier-to-entry for consumers looking to integrate solar power at home. Simplifying the complexity of the quote process for solar installations was identified as the key to enabling more Australians to take up residential solar.

Accenture used Google Cloud technology to develop an impactful solution for Origin Energy, to help its customers understand what a good house for solar looks like based on geospatial images, what solar or virtual power plant solutions best match that house, and the needs of individual customers.

“With this foundation and capability, the technology allows customers to search and self-serve solutions, helping them through the path-to-installation of solar panels,” says Ben Tullock.

“Origin envisioned a streamlined self-service digital platform that would make it easier for consumers to make the switch into solar power, furthering Australia’s energy transition one household at a time.

“We’re so proud to have brought Origin this solution, providing them with a deeper understanding of their customers’ needs,” says Ben Tullock.

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