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The UK stands out as the inaugural G7 nation to enact legislation aiming for a net-zero carbon emissions target by 2050.

Concurrently, consumers are increasingly scrutinising the sustainability of the goods and services they utilise. This underscores the heightened significance for businesses to cultivate sustainable practices and implement comprehensive sustainability strategies. Encouragingly, McKinsey reports that 70% of companies have now adopted formal sustainability governance, indicating a widespread commitment to addressing environmental concerns.

Sustainability has long been a core focus for CSG’s clients and CSG continues to support our clients on these journeys. Ambitious goals include achieving carbon negativity, eliminating waste and replenishing more water than consumed, by 2030. Furthermore, CSG clients are leveraging data and AI to tackle biodiversity challenges.

In a recent Microsoft webinar, CSG joined to discuss the new consumer expectations of utility suppliers around sustainability. Consumers want their suppliers to help them make a difference and create a greener society. It’s no longer about organisations steadily progressing towards meeting sustainability goals. It’s quickly becoming about streamlining and revolutionising your existing processes to ensure you’re positively contributing towards a greener society.

But how can your organisation do this? And how can you support customers on their sustainability journeys? Here we are sharing the five most important points organisations need to consider when building a sustainability strategy.

1. Streamline and reduce operations

Understanding your environmental impact is a crucial first step, and your data holds the key. By harnessing data, you can gain profound insights into your organisation’s carbon and water usage, among other factors. We suggest initiating this process with the Microsoft Sustainability Calculator, a tool designed to provide insights into your carbon emissions and kickstart improvement efforts.

Additionally, AI for Earth empowers organisations to address environmental issues by utilising AI and cloud computing. Leveraging various open-source tools, such as land cover analysis or machine learning APIs for wildlife detection, can expedite your operations and enhance sustainability efforts.

Another avenue to streamline your operations and break down organisational silos is through tools like Dynamics 365. Additionally, the Power Platform offers a no/low code solution, facilitating the streamlining of operations and minimizing paper waste. Integrating machine learning and AI into your processes not only reduces reliance on paper-based workflows but also enhances insights and diminishes errors – contact us today so that we can get you started on Dynamics 365.

2. Improve your supply chain

In the utilities sector, sustainability extends beyond merely supplying renewable energy to customers; it encompasses the entire supply chain. Customers now demand services designed with sustainability at their core. Circular supply chains are gaining prominence, evidenced by a 2024 Gartner survey indicating that 70% of supply chain leaders plan to invest in the circular economy within the next 18 months.

Embracing a circular supply chain model enables organisations to realise cost efficiencies, foster product innovation, reduce waste, and ultimately, mitigate their environmental footprint. This approach is pivotal for your sustainability strategy.

Underpinning this supply chain will be technology. The cloud, IoT, machine learning and automation all have their place to drive transparency while delivering insights

3. Educate and improve customer experiences

In a 2024 BCG report, 76 per cent of respondents indicated that environmental concerns are equally or more significant than health issues. When communicating your sustainability objectives, it’s imperative to adhere to them and remain accountable. For instance, following our announcement of ambitions in January 2020, we issued a progress report one year later, sharing our experiences and insights with customers and partners.

4. Include cross-industry collaboration in your sustainability strategy

Achieving global sustainability requires collaborative efforts from all stakeholders. This entails fostering collaboration at every level to enhance access to new technologies and renewable energy sources. Such collective endeavours are vital for accomplishing our shared objectives. Central to this effort is the exchange of data, fostering co-innovation, and encouraging investment. Furthermore, it involves engaging with regulators to meet and exceed established goals.

We bring together our collective knowledge in cloud, data, AI, IoT and digital twins to help utility and energy companies support the UK’s low-carbon ambition. SSE Renewables is working with the companies to leverage technology to be more cost-effective and increase the reliability and life of its assets.

This presents a crucial opportunity for organisations to integrate into their sustainability strategy. Rather than solely meeting expectations and complying with new regulations, there’s a chance to excel and become leaders in the field. Collaborating with industry experts and focusing on initiatives like smart cities is one pathway to achieving this. By leveraging intelligent cloud technologies to interconnect a city, organisations can bolster resilience, effectively manage critical infrastructure, and foster informed, sustainable decision-making processes.

5. Build a sustainable culture as part of your sustainability strategy

The most effective way to integrate sustainability goals and values into the organisation is by ingraining them within the company culture. This necessitates adopting a top-down approach. Some organisations have appointed Chief Sustainability Officers who actively participate in key board meetings, while others have robust programs that cultivate sustainability champions to educate internally.

Regarding education, a critical aspect of harnessing technology to enhance sustainability is ensuring that employees possess the requisite skills and capabilities to excel in their roles. Implementing a robust digital skills program can democratise skills throughout the entire organisation. Additionally, utilising tools that enable secure and productive remote work can help alleviate strain on on-premises energy resources. For instance, our clients use Windows Virtual Desktop to enhance agility and optimise computing power usage, utilising resources efficiently as needed.

Build your sustainability strategy with authenticity and integrity

The cultural inclination towards sustainability is already ingrained, as is the technological capability to enact it. Recent experiences have shown that businesses can swiftly adapt and adopt new technologies to maintain connectivity and productivity. When organisations align their internal sustainability strategies with outward commitments, they authentically demonstrate their dedication to customers. Leveraging digital technology allows them not only to meet but also to surpass these commitments while driving innovation, enhancing processes, and meeting evolving customer demands.

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