Research: Digital innovation key to achieving sustainability goals

29 May 2023 2 min. read
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Despite all the hype surrounding artificial intelligence, only 1 in 10 organisations in Australia are using the technology to accelerate sustainability innovation, according to research by Avanade.

The research by the international Microsoft solutions provider found that organisations are facing a dilemma with how to achieve their environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals while prioritising the current global business and economic landscape challenges.

Less than two in five (38 per cent) Australian organisations are “very confident” that they have the digital capabilities and culture to reach their ESG targets and government regulations on schedule.

Research: Digital innovation key to achieving sustainability goals

According to the research, the top three drivers of sustainability in organisations in Australia are business innovation and growth, customer expectations, and operational efficiency. However, the research also indicates that businesses face multiple barriers to achieving sustainability objectives. The top challenges include higher business priorities, fear of economic slowdown, and a lack of clarity on sustainability regulations.

To overcome these challenges, almost all the research respondents (91 per cent) believe that digital innovation is important to realising sustainability goals. However, only one in 10 organisations (11.5 per cent) in Australia are using artificial intelligence (AI) to accelerate sustainability innovation, while 34 per cent of organisations are using cloud computing.

Further reading: Cloud-based applications can help businesses reduce emissions.

Lourens Swanepoel, Regional Data & AI Lead and Sustainability Executive at Avanade, said the survey findings validates the importance of technology in achieving sustainability objectives. “There is a strong appetite for innovative tech – almost all organisations view digital innovation as key to achieving sustainability objectives.”

“The next couple of years will be a crucial period where the enablement of digital technologies like cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) will enable Aussie organisations to unlock their next phase of green growth.”

Jillian Moore, Avanade’s Global Advisory and Sustainability Lead, added that while sustainability targets can seem overwhelming at first, identifying and prioritising practical actions is key. “It’s more impactful to focus on continually evolving, rather than the end goal,” she said.

“For example, we are working with clients to help them apply green software principles to start optimising their IT systems and operations to consume fewer resources and reduce the carbon footprint of their organisation.”

The study surveyed 1,500 business leaders from nine countries, including Australia, across industries including manufacturing, financial services, healthcare, consumer goods, retail, energy and utilities, government, non-profit, legal, life sciences, consulting, insurance, information technology, construction, education, and other sectors.