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Sustainability is crucial for business strategy

13 Oct 2022

Vinod Kumar

CEO, Vodafone Business

A few years ago, Vodafone Business began to investigate how businesses can better prepare for future challenges and increase their performance. We looked at what made certain businesses Fit for the Future and explored what helped them to respond to customers’ evolving demands. Every year, we have continued to carry out this research to identify the challenges that businesses are facing.

Sustainability has become much more urgent in recent years and we are seeing the major steps that businesses are taking to become greener and meet sustainable policies. Our latest Fit for the Future (FFTF) report shows that FFTF businesses are prioritising sustainability, yet many other businesses are stalling due to numerous challenges.

FFTF businesses are driving greener policies and actions as they recognise the growing customer and investor demand for more action on sustainability. We are seeing customers make more informed decisions for sustainable causes, whether it is choosing transportation methods with less carbon emissions, waiting longer for green deliveries of products or minimising food waste.

The research shows that 82% of businesses agree that sustainability is a strategic goal and for over half, environmental sustainability will provide lots of opportunities to differentiate with competitors.

So, sticking to sustainability goals is not only beneficial for the planet but is also better for businesses themselves.

Being fit for the sustainable future

In last year’s FFTF results, we found that businesses who had a higher Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) rating had a small improvement in their overall FFTF score. In this report, we can see that those who are being proactive in meeting greener regulations and policies are finding more success.

So, what do we mean by fit for the future? These ‘Fit for the Future’ businesses are those who thrived during the pandemic while others were struggling to make it through. They can be identified by the following traits: positive attitude to change, wider detailed business strategies, open to new technology, plans for technology to transform their ways of working, up to date with emerging trends and adaptable to new trends and challenges.

With these characteristics, businesses were more than prepared when it came to the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, changing employee expectations, increased competition and talent shortage.

These learnings explain why FFTF businesses are naturally taking a leadership position. Their confidence comes from learning how to use technology to solve their business challenges and reacting quickly to upcoming trends, being quicker to market than their competitors.

When it comes to sustainability, these businesses feel it’s up to them to lead improvements in their industries. Overall, we found that FFTF businesses see that sustainability plays a key role in being future ready, with over half viewing sustainability as a greater differentiator for investors.

The need for collaboration

One of the key findings from this year’s results show that there is an increased appetite for collaboration when it comes to meeting sustainability challenges. Companies are making a global effort to strengthen climate action, but business leaders accept that they cannot have a strong impact without a network.

In fact, just over 70% of businesses agree that greater collaboration between organisations is needed to make progress on sustainability challenges, with 30% even open to working with their competition.

At Vodafone Business, we are strong believers in the value of collaboration, and we are leading the way in partnering for success. Just this year, we announced a partnership with Extreme E, another company focused on sustainability. We must all work together to tackle this huge challenge.

Technology is critical for sustainability

Technology is a crucial driver for change, and we can already see the positive impact that technology has had on the environment.

In July, as part of our partnership with Extreme E we launched a new IoT ultra-early forest fire detection system in Sardinia to tackle devastating forest fires. We have also used technology to accelerate sustainable agriculture in Europe with an easy-to-use mobile app for farmers linked to agricultural IoT sensors.

Businesses recognise technology’s importance, with the majority agreeing that technology can help them to better understand where they are wasting resources. Despite this, a lack of tech skills was revealed to be a key a barrier to the progress on sustainability, as well as poorly informed decisions about green technology.

We can help businesses overcome these technology challenges with our partnership approach. This means we can help businesses that might be lacking the necessary technical skills or knowledge necessary to make the right decisions on technology investments.

Building your sustainable journey

FFTF businesses are acting as leaders for others. Realising that sustainability is a shared commitment and prioritising collaboration will help business leaders to build and progress their own sustainability journeys.

By making better use of technology solutions and tools, businesses can develop a sustainable approach that puts them in a better position whilst positively impacting the world around them.

Businesses will also be able to communicate with customers and investors, showing intentional green initiatives that they would like to meet. This can also drive competition and help to build an ecosystem that can encourage the adoption of green policies and practices.

Learn more about what your business can do to help the planet. Read the full Fit for the Future report here.

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