Overuse/abuse/misuse of technology landed humanity in an existential sustainability crisis. How can mindset changes realign us toward only one viable future?

In recent years, we have seen more companies embracing the narrative that “every company is a technology company.”

However, a deeper review of internal workings reveal that most senior leaders are still struggling with the age-old conundrum of striking a balance between innovation and optimization, which stands in the way of businesses truly recalibrating to be technology firms.

As technology becomes more pervasive across industries and functions and becomes vital necessary for creating long-term sustainable value for all stakeholders, one thing is for sure: A sustainable future is the only future. The key to unlocking this lies in how firms leverage technology for sustainability.

For this to happen, leaders should plan their organizational strategies in terms of ecosystems, and think within and beyond the boundaries of their industry to value-add at a more meaningful level. For instance, an automotive brand may think beyond vehicles to look at the ecosystem of mobility; an insurer may think beyond insurance to look at the health and wellness ecosystem, thus creating long-term sustainable value for all stakeholders.

Three thrusts of the Sustainability Imperative

Once leaders place this mindset at the heart of the organization across functions and levels, they will be riding on the following strategies to drive the sustainability imperative using technology:

  • Driving long-term sustainability
    A survey by the International Institute for Management Development had found that 62% of respondents considered sustainability strategy necessary to be competitive, and another 22% felt it will be in the future. There has been an increased demand by consumers and investors for businesses to have a sustainability strategy that is aligned with their views.

    As organizations move to be more purpose-driven instead of profit-driven, it is important to have a ‘triple bottom line’ encompassing ‘people, planet and profit’ and embrace more concerted efforts from a wide range of stakeholders to align with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) best practices for long-term sustainability.

    Shaping a sustainable business by leveraging technology while being mindful of corporate ESG commitments requires organizations to take a hard look at their operations and innovations. Planning ahead helps business leaders to streamline priorities and business objectives, allowing them to hop on trends to transform their business.
  • Developing an ‘eco-advantage’ mindset
    Technology can be a major accelerant for organizations willing to think about how to advance their sustainability initiatives. This mindset encompasses using advanced technologies and ways of working to enable profitable solutions while also ensuring a positive impact on net zero and other ESG goals.

    Leaders will need to rethink traditional approaches to technology and how they can leverage technology to align sustainability with their business objectives. At the World Economic Forum 2021 in Davos, more than 60 corporations had pledged to adhere to a new set of ESG reporting norms.

    As the frontrunner on ESG, the tech industry is well-positioned to play a significant role in shaping the path forward for not only itself, but also its clients—by supporting journeys towards ESG goals.
  • Collaborating across the board
    Every organization and business is born out of belief that it can make an impact, and the belief that one has an idea that matters. If leaders of both the private and public sectors collectively believe that a sustainable future is the only future, they will join forces and break down barriers to fuel the drive towards sustainability.

    Across the board, new forms of (open) collaborations among cross-industry partners and competitors are being observed. Earlier this year, a Global Leadership Study had found: in digital ecosystems, 80% of respondents of top performing companies had indicated they collaborated with competitors, 55% of leaders in the survey had plans to expand more collaborative relationships with competitors.

    As expectations on corporate responsibility increase, transparency and having high levels of disclosure and mutual trust amongst all stakeholders are key to achieving real mindset change.