Digital Transformation + Sustainability = Improved Quality of Life.
October 15, 2020
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
COVID-19 is still accelerating digital transformation, rapid migration to the cloud, and the remote x environment, including working from home. McKinsey & Company recently published a survey titled, “How COVID-19 Has Pushed Companies Over The Technology Tipping Point-And Transformed Business Forever.” This survey highlights the impact COVID-19 plays to push the adoption rate of digital transformation technologies in business. The survey captured metrics around investments post-pandemic and planned investment before the pandemic. Results highlight the quick adoption and decision-making around digital transformation efforts. While these results are driven from COVID-19, it is safe to say that these efforts are around surviving and thriving in today’s business environment.
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.
Digital Transformation + Sustainability
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.
Frank Trevino is 20-year digital strategy veteran and expat with 10+ years leadership experience in Asia, Africa, and Europe 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 an MBA from the University of Houston and a BS from the University of Texas at Austin.