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How CIOs can lead in achieving enterprise sustainability goals
Wed, 31st Jan 2024

For enterprises that want to thrive in the 21st century, sustainability is no longer a nice-to-have but a must-have. The evolving business landscape is witnessing a shift in customer preferences and loyalty, with modern consumers becoming more conscious and aware of environmental and social issues. Enterprises also need to consider investor scrutiny where many progressively are considering environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria when making investment decisions.

As custodians of data and technology, Chief Information Officers (CIOs) play a vital role in driving the sustainability agenda of their organisations. They can leverage their expertise, influence and resources to align their enterprise IT strategy with corporate sustainability goals. This would help their enterprises in measuring, managing and improving their ESG performance.

So, what’s keeping a CIO up at night when it comes to sustainability? Perhaps, it’s how to develop an IT strategy that can support and enable the sustainability strategy. Or maybe it’s about finding a way to capture and analyse data and make it accessible to the relevant stakeholders to make more informed decisions that align with ESG objectives.

Process automation and data analytics are two technologies that can support business and ensure sustainability. These two technologies can help enterprises achieve their sustainability goals by improving efficiency, performance and impact. 

Automating processes

Process automation allows enterprises to automate and optimise their operations. This includes reducing energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and waste generation, which results in the overall environmental footprint being brought down. This is done by automating tasks that are repetitive, manual or error-prone, such as data entry, invoice processing, inventory management, and quality control. 

In Singapore, the Singapore University of Technology and Design has implemented a procurement system that makes it easier to initiate and purchase products and services. Its self-service catalogue module functions like a shopping cart to allow users to access items and place orders from the right suppliers at the right prices. 

The platform automatically triggers approvers to approve the purchases. Immediate validation ensures purchases are within the allocated budget. Purchase orders will also be sent automatically to the supplier within minutes after the approval.

Beyond transactional data, the system also stores valuable business information that SUTD can harness for enhanced insights and improved decision-making.

Analysing data

Data analytics can assist enterprises in analysing and visualising data to monitor and report their sustainability performance. It can also help enterprises identify and prioritise the most material sustainability issues and risks, as well as the opportunities and benefits that sustainability can bring. 

Take StarHub’s solution for a Facility Manager (FM), for example. With the solution’s Facilities Management Command and Control Dashboard, the FM can track building assets and performance with real-time data and automate workflow and reporting. The dashboard provides data analytics that lets the FM monitor CCTV coverage for situational awareness, indoor air quality, and energy and water consumption, among other things. This transforms daily operations and enhances the overall efficiency of facilities. 

Creating value, staying ahead

Process automation and data analytics combine to enable enterprises to implement a sustainability-driven strategy that can leverage emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, blockchain, and cloud computing, to improve their sustainability performance and create value. 

They can help enterprises transform their business models, processes and culture to become more sustainable and resilient. By harnessing the power of process automation and data analytics, enterprises can not only achieve their sustainability goals but also gain a competitive edge and enhance their reputation.

Steve Jobs famously said, "Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower". And sustainability drives innovation. It pushes CIOs to find efficient and environmentally friendly ways to manage IT infrastructure.

While sustainability may be a challenge, it is also a chance for CIOs to demonstrate their leadership, influence and value in the digital age. By embracing sustainability, CIOs can help keep their enterprises ahead.