Sustainable technology, the future is here

Categories: News

Sustainable technology is one of the strategic technology trends that will influence short- and medium-term corporate policies on sustainability. This is even more pressing given the increase in environmental risks, as well as the growing concern from different governments, organizations and international institutions about the severity of this matter.


Faced with this situation, the implementation of enterprise-level automation technologies, Artificial Intelligence (AI), cloud services, document management and advanced analysis is the most suitable option. The main reason is that they help to achieve good ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) results, which in turn improves the company’s market positioning in the long term, enhances its resilience and mitigates the level of risk.


Thus, it is worth analyzing sustainable technology in more detail, as well as the main solutions it encompasses, to ensure that companies realize the importance of including sustainability in their corporate policies or programs.


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How we got here

A clinical diagnosis is a procedure by which a health professional identifies a disease or the state of a patient’s health, with the help of various tools and techniques that allow him/her to determine his/her clinical overview. If we were to extrapolate this concept to the natural environment, we would detect different clinical signs such as deforestation, depletion of natural resources, pollution, or poor air and water quality. These are conditions that require shock treatment, consisting of a set of corrective measures aimed at mitigating the impact of environmental risks and improving the planet’s state of health as much as possible.


As we pointed out at the beginning of this publication, different international organizations and institutions have taken action to try to alleviate the environmental situation that has been affecting the planet for some time now. One example is the United Nations (UN) which, in 2015 and during its General Assembly, which brings together the 193 member states, approved the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An action plan made up of 17 goals and 169 targets of an integrated and indivisible nature covering the economic, social and environmental spheres.


Another example is the United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as the Climate Summit, which has been the scene of multiple agreements by the more than 200 participating countries, to limit the main causes of global warming.


This scenario has led companies to become progressively more inclined to adopt sustainable development or sustainability policies, with which they seek to protect their future and show their customers and employees their commitment to this cause. The fact that management teams are increasingly aware of sustainability measures is supported by a study published by PwC, entitled Companies and the SDG Challenge, which reveals that 78% of Spanish companies mention SDGs in their annual reports, with an international average of 72%.


However, as always, actions speak louder than words and companies need concrete and quantifiable objectives that allow them to achieve results, both qualitatively and quantitatively. Thus, one of the means that can best help companies to meet the SDGs is technology. Artificial Intelligence, automation, Big Data analysis, Intelligent Document Processing (IDP), Blockchain, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are some of the options that have a direct application in the business sphere, to achieve a sustainable business model.






Sustainable technology within the reach of all companies

The concept of corporate sustainability refers to any company that creates economic, social, and environmental value, in the medium and long term, to contribute to the well-being of future generations and the communities where it operates. To achieve this goal, companies must implement technology that facilitates the fulfillment and measurement of the objectives established within the business sustainability plan. We will analyze such technologies in the next section:



1. Artificial Intelligence:

According to a study published by Nature, the prestigious scientific journal, AI can facilitate the fulfillment of 79 % of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), “generally through a technological improvement, which may allow to overcome certain present limitations”. Specifically, for the group of SDGs related to the environment (climate action, underwater life, and terrestrial life), the team of Nature scientists responsible for the study entitled The role of artificial intelligence in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals identified “25 goals (93 %) for which AI could act as an enabler”.  Thus, the benefits of AI could range from:

  • Supporting understanding of climate change and modeling its potential impacts.


  • Supporting low-carbon energy systems, with high integration of renewables and energy efficiency, needed to address climate change.


  • Preserving and improving the health of ecosystems, using algorithms to detect issues such as potential oil leaks.


  • Using neural networks and goal-oriented techniques to identify desertification trends over large areas.



2. Automation:

Automation is a type of technology that has always been related to benefits such as increased productivity, greater flexibility, cost reduction, and greater control, thanks to accurate and real-time data collection. However, its contribution to sustainability is perhaps one of its least known advantages, despite its growing prominence in recent years as one of the most in-demand technology solutions to undertake digital business transformation.

Thus, automation can be applied in a large number of functional areas, to boost sustainability and improve ESG performance. Examples include optimizing inefficient processes in the supply chain, reducing or eliminating the use of paper, and harnessing the full potential of collected data and using it to measure the level of compliance with the environmental strategy.



3. Cloud:

The cloud has brought about a paradigm shift in information systems, of great relevance and value for the business area. The combination of this technology together with others such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things, and Blockchain, offers thousands of possibilities to grow, save time and resources, and do so in a sustainable way.


However, the cloud alone has many benefits to offer companies, such as flexibility when it comes to expanding or reducing their storage capacity at a structural level, greater cost control, better access to innovation with a more agile degree of implementation, increased levels of security in the access and protection of information and, the creation of applications from data stored in the cloud.


But how can the cloud contribute to a company’s sustainability policy? Although there are different approaches to migrating to the Cloud (the most common are rehost, refactor, and replatform), in general terms they all contribute to reducing carbon emissions from IT. According to The Green Behind the Cloud report published by Accenture, “migrations can reduce carbon emissions by more than 84% compared with conventional infrastructure”. In addition, “reductions can be pushed even higher – by up to a whopping 98% – by designing applications specifically for the cloud”. The magnitude of carbon reductions achieved through cloud adoption can therefore contribute to meeting climate change commitments and serve as a driver for business innovation.



4. IoT:

The Internet of Things and its impact on sustainability is evident. This technology involves systems of physical devices that receive and transfer data in real time, via wireless networks, with minimal human intervention.


On a practical level, its application in the industrial sector covers the automated management of all production equipment, which can be controlled remotely; predictive maintenance aimed at detecting anomalies in operation and possible defects in industrial equipment and processes in advance; and the improvement of safety conditions in production facilities or factories, such as air quality, access control, real-time accident detection, and automatic notification.


However, this technology also has multiple applications when it comes to boosting business sustainability. Indeed, it can be used to respond to energy efficiency problems, anticipating demand months in advance; and even to make more efficient use of water, based on the real-time analysis of data captured by sensors installed in agricultural areas, that reveal when and which areas need irrigation.