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How ‘future ready’ businesses are approaching sustainability

03 Mar 2021
Image-Vinod-Kumar

Vinod Kumar

CEO, Vodafone Business

COVID-19 has forced rapid change for everybody, but as businesses get used to this new way of working, many are putting a renewed focus into their long-term goals. One of which is sustainability.

Sustainability is not a new topic. However, as the public continues to be more vocal about it and regulations increase, organisations are becoming more proactive about making it a core part of their credentials, rather than just a nice-to-have.

Sustainability as standard

According to research by the Carbon Trust, over 70% of the companies interviewed said environmental management and sustainability priorities are likely to become 'somewhat more important' or 'significantly more important' for them as a result of the pandemic.

Even those organisations experiencing significant disruption (69%) agreed.

Research from our own Future Ready Report found that 67% of all businesses are working on improving their sustainability and ‘future ready’ businesses, so those companies most confident and well-prepared for emerging trends, challenges and possibilities, actually see sustainability as vital to business continuity.

Almost half (46%) of these organisations said that this is the case, in comparison to 24% of businesses overall.

While many stated that ‘a genuine sense of moral obligation’ was the top reason for making sustainability part of their business model, this was closely followed by the fact that customers want to buy from more sustainable brands.

A changing consumer climate

Customer and societal demands are changing.

Shoppers want to buy from ethical, purpose-led brands who share their interests and care about the world around them.

The pandemic has heightened this trend as businesses all over the globe turn their efforts to the fight against coronavirus. Car manufacturers have helped supply much-needed ventilators, tech brands have waivered connectivity fees and fashion brands kitted out key workers and started making face masks.

As restrictions continue to limit our daily lives, there has also been a move to supporting local businesses and communities – which in turn can reduce our environmental footprints.

Those organisations that have risen to the challenge, speaking out about social issues and making sustainability and purpose an intrinsic part of their values, can truly create a better future for society and will bring customers along on the journey.

This is not a PR activity though; this is about looking at processes and being transparent.

Taking a greener approach

Many businesses have already begun to look at things like waste (90%) and energy consumption (87%).

In fact, ‘using the most energy efficient technology possible’ was the most common action companies say they are taking (or planning to take) to improve their sustainability.

Through the Internet of Things (IoT), businesses are able to monitor energy use like never before. Connected devices like smart meters, sensors and energy management software can make sure lighting, air con and heating are only in use when needed.

The benefits are not limited to offices and cities though. In agriculture, it is helping farmers to manage crops and reduce water and energy waste, as well as the use of pesticides, by monitoring variants such as insects, the weather and soil temperature.

It is perhaps no surprise that our IoT Spotlight Report found that 84% of businesses said IoT is helping them to be more sustainable.

The future of business

Long-term, organisations can look to newer technologies too such as renewables and electric vehicles, which can bring down electricity bills as well as your environmental footprint.

Projects like these require some initial investment and conversion of infrastructure – the biggest challenge for businesses when it comes to sustainability. However, as global lockdowns give us new insights into climate change, not to mention a renewed appreciation for the natural world, this shift will not be lost on businesses, politicians or consumers.

In this context, it is important that all businesses show how they are becoming more sustainable, whether that’s because government regulation requires it or simply because it’s the right thing to do.

Learn more about how IoT can help streamline your business or discover how we’re tackling sustainability within our own business.

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