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IT: As bad for the environment as the airline industry

Is the rapid growth of technology bad for the environment?

Covid-19 saw companies forced into the depths of the ‘Digitise or Die’ movement. With 85% of British people making more sustainable choices since the pandemic, as well as the recent attention focused on COP26, it has never been more relevant for businesses to make a sustainable digital transformation. With the main outcomes of COP26 being to secure global net-zero emissions by 2050 and reducing global warming to 1.5 degrees, world leaders have placed emphasis on large corporations to act in a more sustainable way. Sustainability is the key word here as according to the Royal Society, digital technology accounts for between 1.4%-5.9% of global emissions which is much the same as the airline industry!

There is no denying that digitalisation of businesses saved our backs during the pandemic, and on a wider scale, has drastically improved livelihoods and productivity over the last decade or so. However, we can’t ignore the fundamental issue which is that this rapid growth of technology is having an overall negative impact on climate change. So, with that juxtaposition in mind, we ask, how can organizations carry out a digital transformation, sustainably? Concerningly, a recent survey suggested that 71% of business leaders don’t believe digital transformation can help them achieve their long-term sustainability goals, so we are here to debunk that myth. Regardless of the sector, by introducing sustainable measures into your companies own digital strategies, you can empower many sustainable initiatives amongst both employees and customers.

So, where should you start?

The first step, according to, the World Economic Forum, for sustainable digital transformation is to carry out an assessment to calculate which environmental risks and opportunities will hold the most strategic significance. For example, greater efficiency in one area, naturally leading to greater sustainability. This isn’t just an assessment on internal practises; it is important to regularly check in and audit suppliers to ensure their ESG standards are matching your own.

Your assessment will give you a solid foundation in which to begin your transformation, and this foundation is the key to a successful sustainable digital strategy. Setting achievable and measurable goals will help break down the bigger picture and eliminate what may seem like a barrier to entry. Not just business goals, but environmental goals too. Our software, eco-shaper, will prompt you to set environmental actions that are specific to your own carbon footprint. It also allows you to set goals and link your actions to them, so you can clearly monitor your progress. The same goes with business goals and actions. These goals should be time-bound, realistic and measurable in order to be achievable. Erik Josefsson said ‘if you can find ways to measure every aspect of the business that matters and produce data you can trust, you can make operations more autonomous – and that’s ultimately the future for efficient and sustainable processes.’

Often the hardest part to any task or project is getting the ball rolling. For example, with certain industries such as the utilities sector, there are various legislative requirements and barriers to deal with that can often be very off-putting. The scale at which many digital transformations require simply cannot be tackled in one single effort; therefore, plans should be ongoing and built around long-term success as opposed to quick wins. Begin with one actionable and lightweight project, for example, if your company is looking to expand on their ecommerce offering, begin by focusing on the user experience for customers at the front end, by designing prototypes that can be tested and validated. Once you nail your first project, this will open the door to further sustainability momentum and investment. Ecommerce offerings drive business performance and significantly improve operational wastage, therefore highlighting a benefit to both the business and the planet.

The belief that digital transformation and sustainability are not compatible is untrue, it’s just a matter of going about it in the right way, with the right solutions. Our software will help you to carry out a full assessment of your carbon footprint to highlight where the greatest changes can be made. It can then guide you to set both business and environmental goals and link your actions to them. Progress is easily trackable and can be shared with other colleagues, or clients. Building effective environmental solutions into your business will lead to greater commercial opportunities and there’s never been a better time to start.

At eco-shaper, we drive action on climate change and streamline carbon footprinting. For example, we can help calculate emissions across the entire ecosystem that companies work across and produce automated reporting based on outcomes. It’s like Xero, for sustainability. Contact us to be part of our research group on

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