For nearly 20 years, IBM has surveyed thousands of CEOs about their biggest challenges. In the latest survey, sustainability ranked at the top, a five-spot jump from 2021. Nearly 60% of CEOs told us they see significant demand from investors for greater transparency on sustainability. They are also feeling the pressure from multiple stakeholders. Regulators in 38 of the 50 top economies worldwide are developing corporate disclosure requirements around environmental impact. Customers want to buy from sustainable businesses. People want to work for these companies and invest in them. And from the boardroom to the operations centers, all stakeholders want to play a role in making a positive difference for our world.

However, while 86% of companies say they already have a sustainability strategy in place, only 23% say they are implementing sustainability strategies across their entire organization. Many organizations with good intentions are stalled at the planning stage because implementing sustainable practices is complex and can seem confusing. Despite this delay, the same IBV CEO study found that 80% of CEOs believe investments in sustainability will improve their own business results within five years. How can you turn strategy into results?

Take the first steps to build and operationalize sustainability

Becoming more sustainable is an opportunity to innovate, make a difference and grow. To succeed, your business needs to set and act on clear goals, then execute with exceptional data discipline across the enterprise. Underpinning every goal is the need to establish a clear baseline of your current impact, track progress and implement adjustments.

Identifying a baseline requires a single system of record to manage environmental, social and governance (ESG) data that aligns to your goals. These baseline measurements of your sustainability efforts will help you more easily identify where improvements are most needed. Obtaining baseline data requires your system of record to manage the collection, correlation, visualization, and analysis of relevant data so you can deliver transparent, verifiable, financial-grade information.

Next, full benefit can be achieved by connecting this system of record for ESG data to the underlying operational systems that run across all the departments and business units of your organization. With these systems in place, you can generate continuous feedback loops that enable actions based on insights. These insights help drive sustainable transformation through intelligent facilities and assets, resilient IT Infrastructure, and circular supply chains.

Focus on three key operational areas

Intelligent facilities and assets — Monitoring and recording operational data from your organization’s physical assets and real estate facilities is a good place to start. The data you collect can fuel insights to drive significant energy savings, optimize waste management and provide predictive maintenance data to help reduce unplanned downtime.

Resilient IT infrastructure — Data centers provide multiple opportunities for improving sustainability. Upgrading IT infrastructure with newer, more energy-efficient equipment can help you reduce energy consumption and perhaps even eliminate wasteful outdated hardware. What’s more, the same steps you take to improve business resiliency across your organization also help you improve customer experiences and productivity while you work toward meeting your sustainability goals.

Circular supply chains — Circular economies encourage reuse and provide customers with transparent sourcing data for the products they buy, something more consumers are demanding. Deploying intelligent workflows and taking full advantage of automation opportunities can not only reduce waste but also optimize fulfillment and delivery paths with lower carbon footprints. Solutions powered by AI and backed by blockchain can help you make advances toward a net zero supply chain.

Advance your journey with IBM

Even if you’re ready to act on your sustainability goals, you might be wondering where to start. It’s important to take the right steps from the outset as you develop and operationalize your strategy. Expert advice helps you leverage sustainability as a catalyst for profitable business transformation. At IBM, we have a comprehensive and differentiated portfolio of sustainability technologies and consulting services that we are continuing to enhance in concert with our ecosystem of partners.

Set goals with IBM Consulting — IBM Garage is an ideal starting point. This end-to-end model for accelerating digital transformation helps you establish a meaningful sustainability strategy. The process equips you with the experts, best practices, and technologies to rapidly turn those ideas into business value. In fact, according to a 2020 Forrester Total Economic Impact study, IBM Garage clients experience 10 times more innovative ideas, 67% faster speed to outcomes and 102% ROI.

Find out more about IBM Garage

IBM experts are helping clients embed sustainability into the fabric of their business to increase operational efficiencies, expose innovation opportunities and drive competitive differentiation. Many businesses rely on IBM Consulting as their partner for the new rules of modern business. We believe open ecosystems, open technologies, open innovation, and open cultures are the key to creating opportunities and the way forward for modern business and for our world.

Find out more about IBM Consulting

Make progress with technology from IBM — Our trusted solutions can help you put your sustainability plans into action. Many of our clients choose IBM Maximo® Application Suite as a foundation for operational insights to drive clean energy transition, efficient water and waste management and decarbonization. Maximo integrates AI, IoT and analytics capabilities with flexible on-prem and cloud-based delivery, enabling optimized enterprise asset performance, extended asset lifecycles with predictive maintenance, and reduced operational downtime and costs, helping you achieve your sustainability goals.

IBM Envizi Sustainability Performance Management provides a system of record to operationalize sustainability goals and environmental intelligence across your entire business operations. Automate the collection and consolidation of more than 500 data types to helps manage environmental goals, identify efficiency opportunities, and assess sustainability risks.

Find out more about sustainability solutions from IBM

Industry leaders rely on IBM solutions to help meet sustainability goals

Sund & Baelt — Digitizing maintenance and asset management processes using IBM Maximo to extend the life of critical infrastructure (like bridges and tunnels) by 100 years and avoid 750,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Celstica — Consolidating, streamlining, and automating ESG data reporting with IBM Envizi Sustainability Performance Management to produces finance-grade, auditable data and transform sustainability reporting across the manufacturing portfolio.

Carhartt — Deploying cloud-first strategy with IBM Turbonomic® Application Resource Management to ensure 24×7 performance while reducing application needs and energy consumption.

BBVA — Adopting IBM z15 central processing equipment reduced carbon dioxide emissions and energy consumption of BBVA Data Center processors by 50%.

BestSeller — Using IBM Garage, BestSeller took a step forward with sustainable fashion, developing “Fashion.ai” that integrates AI to help customers purchase items that fit their physical dimensions and their preferred style. These insights help reduce return rates and drive supply chain efficiencies.

The post Turn sustainability ambition into action appeared first on IBM Business Operations Blog.

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