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A greener business conscience for the future

Written by Severine Trouillet, Global Affairs Director, Dassault Systèmes

When the pandemic hit, many businesses were forced to adapt in a short space of time. Business priorities shifted drastically, and they were in survival mode. Now that we are moving into our new normal, business priorities are shifting again. Today, not only do businesses have to consider how they’ll stay afloat but also adapt to the changing landscape, consumer demands and new sustainability requirements.

From pre- to post-pandemic

2021 has been a transitional year for many. As businesses look towards the future, the considerations are no longer just about how to survive until tomorrow, but how to maintain momentum for years to come, whilst aligning with the government’s sustainability vision for the future.

During the height of the crisis, we saw the impact that closed factories & offices and reduced traffic could have on the air pollution and the climate: air quality improved noticeably, and people started using low carbon means of transportation. This change has also put the onus on the role businesses play in tackling the climate crisis.

For a long time, the entire concept of ‘business sustainability’ had focused on one core metric: a company’s green credentials. Yet, if the COVID pandemic has shown us one thing, it’s that a sustainable business needs a strong business model that will stay relevant and competitive five, ten or thirty years from now. As organisations come out of their survival mode, they must act quickly to ensure they are making sustainability a priority, or risk losing customers – and therefore revenue – to competitors.

True sustainability is now intrinsically linked to all other short and long terms decisions made for a business. The pandemic has only further emphasised that businesses must take charge of their own sustainability – whether this is their ability to innovate, operate or upskill staff. To do so, they should set long-term ambitions to become carbon neutral, with short and mid-term milestones to measure their progress.

As more organisations embrace business sustainability as a strategic priority, they will need the right collaborative partner to help them on this journey – this ultimate partner being technology. Technology will play a pivotal role in implementing sustainable practices. In fact, a study by Accenture launched at the World Economic Forum in January demonstrates the untapped potential of digital twin technology in helping reducing emissions, waste and speeding up sustainable innovation. The faster industries adopt these innovations to improve current existing business models, the more sustainable and resilient their business will be.

The recipe for business sustainability

Businesses that proactively implement the right technology tools to measure their objectives and their supply chain’s impact on the climate are already taking the lead. Embedding environmentally friendly values, such as supporting the circular economy or adopting a ‘sustainable by design’ approach to product innovation into the company’s strategic makeup is crucial for any eco-minded business. What makes it truly sustainable is ensuring these pillars support a robust business plan that can generate profits and weather any storm – pandemic or otherwise.

In fact, we ran a recent survey amongst energy and life sciences business leaders – some of the worst offenders when it comes to carbon emissions and waste - and found that three in four of them have adopted digital twin technology to help them become more sustainable. Within these sectors specifically, the adoption of digital twin technology is helping companies to identify all the emissions associated with product design and delivery and make better decisions - from sourcing sustainable materials to reducing emissions in the assembly and delivery process. Digital twins also remove the need for physical prototypes which can be costly and wasteful in terms of resources, energy consumption, etc. and provide a more efficient and sustainable way of managing product lifecycles.

Leading your own business sustainability

The British government have made a commitment to becoming a carbon-neutral economy by 2050, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement have made sustainability a priority, adding another layer of pressure to be sustainable. For businesses to become more sustainable, they not only need the right strategy, business and operating models, but also technology to underpin these initiatives. With COP26 less than a 100 days away, businesses need to take an active stance on their journey to Net Zero. Now is the time for the industry to start implementing the right strategies to reduce its carbon footprint. We already have the tools, technologies and knowledge needed to become greener, the final step starts and ends with commitment.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Dassault Systèmes .

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