84% of organisations prioritise commercial success over sustainability

But being sustainable is good business: 97% of businesses agree that sustainability credentials are either essential or important in their buying decisions.

Software AG has published the results of a new global survey of over 2,000 senior IT decision-makers from the U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany and France. It finds that the majority (84%) of organisations will prioritise commercial objectives over sustainability in the face of economic challenges. This is despite the fact that almost all (95%) leaders agree sustainability is either a top or high priority and a similar number (97%) agree that other firms’ sustainability credentials are either essential or important in their own buying decisions. The annual Reality Check reports seeks to investigate how technology initiatives can benefit both sustainability and commercial objectives.

Despite the difficulties of delivering sustainability initiatives, 87% of companies believe that they will lose investors if they don’t have a clear strategy and many lack the technology to deliver one. In almost a third (32%) of cases the necessary technology is simply not in place. And even when it is available, it is poorly implemented or used by almost half (47%) of companies. In particular, 36% say that they are unable to effectively track the progress of sustainability initiatives to determine whether they are effective.

The majority (87%) of organisations tackle sustainability and digital transformation separately. The Reality Check report shows how an integrated approach can address multiple challenges at once. Promisingly, a third (33%) of organisations have already integrated sustainability plans into their technology roadmap.

Sanjay Brahmawar, CEO, Software AG commented: “In the current climate, it’s no surprise that commercial objectives are a top priority – they have to be otherwise organisations cannot continue to operate. We are keen to help organisations to find solutions using the ‘Genius of AND’, where they don’t have to be torn between commercial and sustainability objectives. The right application of mission critical technologies can make enterprises more connected. When this happens, and data is free to move around it and be accessible to everyone who needs it, we will start to see progress in multiple areas at once.”

Technology-enabled sustainability

Digital transformation is a priority for organisations. In fact, more than two thirds (69%) of CEOs even plan to divert resources from other areas into their digital transformation efforts.

According to business leaders, the technologies that have the most positive impact on sustainability are cloud (45%), data integration (28%) and edge computing (27%). Together, they enable organisations to gain visibility of their environmental impact and therefore reduce emissions and waste as well as costs and process inefficiencies.

Improvements in these areas will also yield commercial benefits. For example, API-enabled, hybrid cloud environments enable more efficiencies and innovative new services for customers. Meanwhile, data integration helps organisations to combine multiple data streams to inform advanced analytics and decision-making. Edge computing delivers visibility across expansive operations via Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and devices capable of making decisions about the data they capture.

Alongside these benefits, there are also costs to inaction. In fact, 82% of companies candidly admit that they would accept regulatory penalties to avoid taking on sustainability initiatives. This is likely because of the cost and difficulty of delivering such projects. However, beyond the cost of non-compliance, the majority (84%) believe that without a clear sustainability strategy they are also likely to lose staff. This risk is real, as 82% of companies acknowledge that employees don’t have clear sustainability targets, incentives or reporting of the kind they have with commercial initiatives.

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