We are living in an age of rapidly rising environmental consciousness as polar ice caps recede and the world’s biosphere faces a real threat of irreversible damage.
Most discussions about digital transformation focus on topics like productivity, profitability, and efficiency. Environmental factors rarely get a lot of attention in these discussions, despite the increasing pressure on businesses to uphold and validate their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
However, according to the World Economic Forum, the adoption of digital technology can cut global emissions by 15%. For example, continuing reliance on paper and printing alone is the reason why the pulp and paper industry is the fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gas. Digital transformation, on the other hand, can eliminate the need for paper in many operations.
These days, adopting environmentally sustainable business practices is no longer an option, especially as the regulatory landscape evolves to introduce more stringent rules. That said, a sustainable business model is not all about staying on the right side of the law. It is also about survival at a time when customers, employees, and investors are casting an ever more critical eye on the practices of companies of all sizes and industries. Here are some examples:
Consumers are warier about who they buy from. They are less likely to purchase from a company they know to have a serious impact on the environment.
Business customers are paying closer attention to their supply chains and are starting to weed out vendors who have a poor track record of environmental sustainability.
Employees are less likely to work for companies that fail to demonstrate sustainable business practices, especially with regards to their impacts on the environment.
Investors, lenders, and other stakeholders, are more likely to favour organizations that can demonstrate environmentally sustainable business practices.
Here are some of the biggest ways digital transformation can reduce the carbon footprint:
Reduced reliance on paper and printing
Perhaps the most obvious way in which digitization can reduce a company’s carbon footprint is the elimination or, at least, dramatic reduction, of paper and printing. Until recently, printing was still unavoidable for many operations. However, thanks the rise of digital contracts and signatures, as well as document sharing and collaboration, it is now possible to handle almost all transactions online. For example, having a full-featured digital branch allows customers to interact with businesses entirely online from the convenience of their smartphones.
Eliminating the daily commute with remote work
The 40-hour work week has long been a major contributor to global carbon emissions. As the restrictions introduced to stem the spread of COVID-19 proved, the dramatic reduction in the use of energy-consuming offices and daily commutes resulted in reduced pollution and cleaner air than many cities had seen in decades. Even though everyone is looking forward to getting back to some semblance of normality, it is safe to say that remote work can have seriously positive results on reducing the carbon footprint. The provision of cloud-based tools and digital branches has rendered the daily commute all but obsolete in many businesses.
Consolidating disparate management systems
Computing infrastructures are often disparate and disconnected, further increasing a company’s impact and offsetting the advantages of digitization in the first place. However, these challenges too can be mitigated by taking a unified approach to digital transformation. After all, having an all-in-one client portal that manages both front-end and back-end processes is a lot more efficient than working with dozens of different apps and systems that do not work well together.
Digital transformation is about far more than just adopting new technology. It is also about continuously improving efficiency by eliminating organizational silos and consolidating data sets and systems. With a secure digital platform, your business can not only reduce its carbon footprint, but also boost digital resiliency and enhance long-term profitability.