Digital Transformation + Sustainability = Improved Quality of Life.
February 25, 2023 Updated
By Frank Trevino
As a digital advocate, I have a responsibility to ensure there is a quality of life factor around technology. Sustainability should not be incidental but strategic to positively impact society today and tomorrow.
Digital Transformation + Sustainability = Improved Quality of Life
In recent years, the world has witnessed a significant shift towards digital transformation and sustainability. As technology continues to advance at an unprecedented pace, the potential for integrating sustainable practices into digital initiatives has become more evident. The combination of digital transformation and sustainability has the power to create a positive impact on various aspects of our lives. In this blog post, we will explore how the convergence of these two trends can lead to an improved quality of life for individuals and communities worldwide.
As I view digital transformation and its acceleration, it is important to understand its underlying purpose around driving change. In my discovery stage around people, process, product, and technology, it is clear how digital transformation investment should eventually result in cost savings and revenue potential. But by definition, digital transformation change is around efficiency and agility. These efforts include the ability to create efficiencies around resource or product usage while having the flexibility to adapt quickly through digital technologies with the idea of leading to better customer engagement and product innovation.
Sustainability refers to something that can and should last. DeVries states that Sustainable Development is about quality of life and this experience stretches over large domains in space and time in our individual living space. Sustainable Development, given in the UN World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) report Our Common Future (1987): Sustainable development is a development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
We immediately look at society as a whole when we think of sustainability around corporations and government at the forefront to provide society this quality of life. Organizations are now taking stock of sustainability with the dramatic impact around climate change and corporate responsibility as I see a transition from the focus on shareholders to now stakeholders as the voice of consumers loudly resonate around economic, social, and environmental responsibility.
Efficient Resource Management
Digital transformation enables us to gather, analyze, and utilize vast amounts of data to make informed decisions. When applied to sustainability efforts, this capability can lead to more efficient resource management. Through digital solutions like smart grids, intelligent energy monitoring systems, and data-driven supply chains, we can optimize resource allocation, reduce waste, and improve energy efficiency. As a result, we can create sustainable infrastructures that minimize the environmental impact while maximizing the utility of available resources.
Smart Cities and Sustainable Urbanization
The concept of smart cities revolves around leveraging technology to enhance the quality of life in urban areas. By integrating digital solutions with sustainability principles, we can create cities that are more livable, environmentally friendly, and resilient. Smart sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) devices can monitor air quality, traffic patterns, and energy consumption, enabling real-time adjustments to optimize resource usage. This data-driven approach promotes sustainable urban planning, efficient transportation systems, and improved overall well-being for urban dwellers.
Eco-friendly Manufacturing and Supply Chains
Digital transformation provides manufacturers with innovative tools and technologies to streamline production processes and enhance supply chain operations. By incorporating sustainability into these advancements, companies can reduce waste, minimize their carbon footprint, and adopt eco-friendly practices. For example, implementing digital twins, artificial intelligence, and blockchain technology can enhance transparency, traceability, and accountability within supply chains. This integration helps ensure ethical sourcing, reduce environmental impact, and support circular economy initiatives.
Remote Work and Reduced Carbon Emissions
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of remote work, and this shift can have a positive impact on sustainability. By embracing digital transformation to enable remote work and virtual collaboration, we can reduce the need for daily commuting, resulting in decreased carbon emissions. With the advancement of video conferencing, cloud-based collaboration platforms, and remote access to information, professionals can work efficiently from anywhere, promoting a healthier work-life balance and reducing the strain on transportation infrastructure.
Personal Empowerment and Conscious Consumption
Digital transformation empowers individuals to make informed decisions about their consumption habits. Mobile apps, online platforms, and smart devices enable us to access information about sustainable products, ethical practices, and eco-friendly alternatives. Through digital transformation, consumers can actively support sustainable businesses, reduce waste, and adopt a more conscious approach to their lifestyles. This increased awareness and access to sustainable choices contribute to personal well-being while fostering a more sustainable and responsible society.
Digital Transformation + Sustainability
The convergence of digital transformation and sustainability offers immense potential for improving the quality of life for individuals and communities worldwide. By leveraging technology, data, and innovative solutions, we can optimize resource management, create sustainable urban environments, and revolutionize manufacturing and supply chain practices. Additionally, remote work facilitated by digital tools can help reduce carbon emissions and promote a healthier work-life balance. Lastly, digital transformation enables personal empowerment and conscious consumption, empowering individuals to make sustainable choices.
As I continue to understand the role sustainability plays, I see incidental results on sustainability as part of digital transformation initiatives. Digital transformation is about efficiency and agility. As I implement digital technologies such as automation within an organization, a measurable result are its efficiencies such as resource cost savings for an organization. This resource cost-saving thus could be reducing a carbon footprint. I refer to this as incidental because many still view sustainability only as a result. One could say, if we are creating resource efficiencies through our digital transformation efforts, then it’s safe to say that we are also generating sustainable results and can now call ourselves a green organization and showcase our corporate responsibility. This is far from the truth.
Like digital transformation, the same holds true around the purpose behind sustainability by creating efficiencies and agility, as they both share these common traits. They both look at their customer, data, and innovation that impact the economy, the environment, and society. Sustainability should not be incidental; it is the next step within the digital transformation process. But only through the combination of digital transformation + sustainability can we see success around our quality of life. Digital transformation and sustainability should form an integral part of any company’s organizational strategy from the beginning and not just serve as an incidental by-product to please shareholders. As we move forward, it is essential to prioritize the integration of sustainability into digital initiatives to build a future that is both technologically advanced and environmentally conscious, resulting in an improved quality of life for all.
Frank Trevino is an experienced digital transformation consultant working in technology, telco and the space sectors.
Frank’s digital transformation philosophy is to connect People, Products, Process, and Technology to turn data into digital assets. He holds a BS and MBA and is currently a postgrad MSc student at Oxford University.