4. Technology with purpose will be the unifying fabric
Technology will play a crucial role in bringing together the data for organisations to make sustainable efforts across their entire operations. Connective fabric including 5G and Internet of Things, and next-generation analytics powered by AI look set to make it happen.
Offering the proof was Nico van der Klugt, Corporate Communications Officer at Scania. By monitoring driving patterns captured by IoT sensors, the Swedish heavy vehicles manufacturer can make recommendations to drivers that improve fuel consumption by more than 10%.
“Our connected vehicles contribute to our customers’ sustainable goals,” he said. “New applications will become available in the coming years to enhance performance even further.”
However, the guiding principle behind any efforts at digital advancement must be purpose, as Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights at the European Commission made clear:
“The technology is out there, the potential is out there,” he said, before adding, “there is also a risk that we go away from this human-centred orientation.” The Commissioner stressed that one way to guard against a poor outcome for workers was, “to assign a purpose to companies ... that goes beyond profits alone.”
This underscored another core TCS belief: that technology will continue to offer new ways to protect the environment and will become more sustainable, and that acting in a responsible way will build customer confidence and brand loyalty.
5. Industries will lead a green and just transition
Alongside the spheres of academia and government, panelists were in wide agreement that the climate challenge can only be solved by the innovation efforts of organisations across Europe.
Delegates heard the many ways in which action was already underway, with French multinational utility Engie focusing on the restoration and protection of ecological corridors and preserve biodiversity. Meanwhile, everywhere from water treatment and autonomous trucks, the digitalization of industries offers newfound hope to the Paris Climate targets.
Head of Marketing & Communications and Ericsson, Corinne Muller was clear on the roadmap ahead. “We need pioneers and frontrunners to lead by example. And we need to scale up to reach the 2030 goals.”
There are plenty of ways corporates can play a role, so long as they embrace these new models of cooperation and look beyond their immediate operations, and address sustainability across their entire value chains.
“No company is able to achieve digitalisation or sustainability initiatives on their own,” concluded Carol Wilson, TCS’ Head of UK & Europe Communications, Media & Information Services. Only ecosystems can support these business goals, with co-innovation at every step of the journey towards net-zero.
Where do we go from here?
Protecting the planet and its people should be front and centre of policy and operations at purpose-driven companies. It’s a happy coincidence that doing the right thing is often also best for the bottom line.
As businesses move ahead with digital transitions, all stakeholders will increasingly demand to see demonstrable corporate purpose on sustainability. Cleaning up supply chains, reskilling employees, becoming greener and more inclusive benefits both the businesses we operate and the societies we operate in.
How to sum up the key messages from the conference? The words of Anthony Gooch, Director of Public Affairs and Communications at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, perhaps best encapsulate the themes discussed during the week.
“It will be the nature of our policies, our ability to harness the possibilities of today’s unprecedented digital and technological changes, while coping with the challenges they pose, that will determine whether we succeed or fail in creating better workplaces and more inclusive economies and societies,” he told delegates.
“It is incumbent on us,” he concluded, “to build a future of work that works for all.”