Krishnakumar Nagarajan (KK), IBM Industry Academy Member, Distinguished Engineer, Sustainability at IBM Consulting and Praveen Hariharan, Partner, Sustainability Practice and Industrial Sector at IBM Consulting

Sustainability: a new rising corporate agenda amongst thousands of CEOs globally

Industry leaders put sustainability at the centre of their enterprises.

IBM, a leading hybrid cloud, AI, and business services provider, was named as the technology partner for the recently concluded 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP27, hosted by the Egyptian government in Sharm El-Sheikh. 

This collaboration with the Presidency of Egypt builds on IBM's history of environmental commitments and alliances, such as establishing a goal to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 or being a founding member of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Science-Policy-Business Forum on the Environment. IBM also enables organisations and communities to tackle environmental issues through programs like the IBM Sustainability Accelerator.

Earlier this year, The IBM Institute of Business Value released a study that indicates a survey conducted amongst over 3000 CEOs worldwide indicates a trend within corporations that recognise sustainability as a top priority. The study shows a massive increase in CEOs with a similar agenda, garnering about an added 20% in 2021 and 37% more this year.

A select group of CEOs who have integrated sustainability with their digital transformation strategy are realising greater business performance, showing that transformation sustainability does have an effect on business, with some cases resulting in over 40% YoY revenue growth.

Whilst no single nation—let alone a single organisation—can reverse the tide, the decisions executives make can have a ripple effect across the global economy. The launch of last year’s Singapore Green Plan 2030 has highly influenced industries to reshape their business structures, incorporating sustainability in all aspects of planning and decision-making processes. Businesses are now presented with a challenge to make sustainability an integral element of their strategy. 

The Green Plan opens doors for transformational sustainability. It enables enterprises to go beyond initiatives and projects by recognising sustainability as one of the fundamental principles of their business model. Not only does it aid businesses in recognising the opportunity to reshape major aspects of the enterprise, but transformational sustainability also embraces digital technologies strategically and operationally to drive sustainability outcomes whilst expanding economic opportunities, which are beneficial for both the enterprise’s growth and the impact on the environment.

With the numerous challenges of implementing sustainability, IBM provides an action guide to commit to transformational sustainability. Companies and CEOs worldwide are recommended to embrace personal responsibility for their organisation’s sustainability agenda, build, and maintain their technology foundation, engage employees and talent, make sustainability an enterprise-wide concern, seek collaboration opportunities with ecosystem partners, anticipate challenges, and stay focused on outcomes. Sustainability has now become at the forefront of the company’s agenda.

In the recently launched HFS top 10 rankings for Sustainability services (2022) by HFS Research, IBM has been ranked as one of the top 3 services providers, even ranking at the top of several innovation categories

On August 25, 2022, Thursday, IBM organised a Transformational Sustainability Roundtable at Gardens by the Bay, where chief sustainability officers and other executives from all industries were all invited to discover the approaches of responsible and forward-looking organisations to support their sustainable vision by leveraging exponential technologies like automation, AI, digital twins, and data platforms.

Executives discussed with like-minded peers how organisations can overcome industry silos toward a cleaner and greener future in Singapore through cross-business collaboration. They can determine how integrating sustainability and digital transformation into their business strategy can realise greater business performance.

In summary, the key messages from the event were, start now, set, and communicate the strategy clearly to both the external and internal stakeholders; engage and bring employees on board with required training; identify key ecosystem partners and collaborate with clear KPIs; and share the progress using clear and easy-to-understand communication methods.

IBM has set precedents with environmental commitments for over 50 years and continues to lead the charge through research, advocacy, and coalitions. The firm acknowledges building a more sustainable world requires strong partnerships and industry-leading consulting and technology. Together, let’s turn sustainability ambition into action through data-driven innovation.

To know more about what you can do to turn sustainability ambition into action, visit https://www.ibm.com/sustainability

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