How collaboration and tech can help achieve business sustainability

Vodafone Business research has revealed that further collaboration and better use of tech will be key to enabling business sustainability goals

While organisations see sustainability as ‘absolutely necessary’ for their business to continue operating, the difficult economic situation, along with other challenges, have caused sustainability progress to stall.

According to the Fit for a Sustainable Future report from Vodafone Business, sustainability goals are vital towards the long-term survival of organisations.

Businesses found by Vodafone Business to be making progress with their sustainability-focused initiatives were referred to as ‘Fit for the Future’.

“Businesses clearly understand that sustainability challenges require collaboration. This means an ecosystem of companies and governments coming together in response,” said Vinod Kumar, CEO of Vodafone Business.

“We firmly believe in this approach at Vodafone Business, and as a company we are leading the way in partnering for success – both with our customers and through our strategic alliances with other technology companies.”

Four main barriers were revealed by Vodafone Business towards achieving sustainability success in its research.

>See also: Facilitating change: the smart benefits of going green

A lack of collaboration

The majority (71 per cent) of businesses agree that greater collaboration between organisations is needed to make progress on sustainability challenges.

To mitigate the impact of climate change, companies recognise that forming new links, and moving forward with a sustainable ecosystem approach that will benefit society in general, would be a positive step forward, according to the research.

True progress would call for collaboration with competitors, as well as universities, charities, regulators and governments, to tackle the sustainability challenge.

Too much offsetting

Businesses recognise that previous approaches are not enough, and need to go beyond carbon offsetting, with 54 per cent stating that their industry has become too reliant on this practice.

Organisations considered ‘Fit for the Future’ by Vodafone Business are taking a more holistic view on sustainability, which includes adapting supply chains, value chains and wider spheres of influence.

This is in response to increased scrutiny of sustainability strategies, with many businesses highlighting that an accusation of ‘greenwashing’ would have a detrimental impact on their reputation.

A tech skills gap

27 per cent of companies surveyed cited a lack of tech-facing skills as a pitfall.

Tech capabilities such as data science and the Internet of Things (IoT) can play a leading role in overcoming sustainability challenges, with many businesses calling for another industrial revolution to create a more sustainable economy.

>See also: The importance of digital skills bootcamps to UK tech industry success

Poor decision-making

26 per cent, meanwhile, identified poorly informed decisions about green technology as a barrier.

Organisations across all sectors see a lack of technology skills and poorly informed decisions about green tech as prominent barriers to progress on sustainability.

Kumar continued: “Technology will also be an important part of our battle for a sustainable future.

“IoT is already helping many businesses around the world to become more energy efficient and reduce their carbon footprints. At Vodafone Business, we are collaborating on innovative projects and bringing new solutions to support businesses on both their sustainability and digital transformation journeys.

“Our partnership approach means we can help businesses that might be lacking the necessary technical skills or knowledge necessary to make the right decisions on technology investments. All businesses need to understand that they must play a leading role on this challenge, or risk being left behind by more sustainable competition.”

3,101 businesses across 15 countries were surveyed by Vodafone Business for its Fit for a Sustainable Future report.


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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.