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May 3, 2021

Technology for sustainable development

You can hear it all across entrepreneurial and global forums, expressions such as circular economy, carbon neutrality, ESG, Smart solutions, energy efficiency, or waste management.

According to many experts and business leaders, sustainability is already a “must” that is being integrated into the mindset and core business of corporations. So… what are we missing? Move even further into action, and implement sustainability plans that cover the entire life cycle of services and products.

With technology also as the backbone of business progress and innovation for the coming decades, in this article, we will propose ideas to integrate it, as well as a brief overview of some of the current solutions.

Corporate sustainable policies make services and products more efficient. But so do internal processes.

How to address a sustainable digitalization process at the enterprise level?

What kind of guidelines or broad principles might help steer our business strategies and efforts towards sustainability? Let’s consider four of them:

Determining the impact areas

We could start with a thorough list of all the activities and processes that might be technologically transformed. Which ones could more easily generate the best possible outcome?

Welcoming external (and internal) feedback

We might by now have some exciting suggestions from customers and corporate partners. Can we also include our employees in the equation? Recent statistics show that over 60% of them in many companies are keen to implement and contribute to sustainability actions or policies.

How can disruptive tech be part of the solution?

Indeed, it can have a long-term and measurable impact on our efforts. That’s why at Plain Concepts, we are committed to helping our partners in this process, as showcased in the examples considered below. Regularly attending events, reading blog posts, and listening to the expertise of professionals and leaders will be helpful too. You will get the much-needed inspiration and information to carry out your ideas.

We all love when our plans come together

But if they are to succeed, those plans need to be realistic and get enough funding and internal support. Also, it’s essential to establish the right metrics to gauge their progress. Last but not least, we should communicate our hard-earned achievements effectively to the world.

Each achievement will be a milestone that we will be able to spread and celebrate as a brand. Accomplishments that will drive further steps towards that necessary, successful, and far-reaching transformation. For example, from Plain Concepts we are proud to present a section with a large number of the actions we carry out in the field of sustainability.

 

Examples of sustainable technology

Cloud Computing: greener and energy-efficient

Unifying your data into cloud services such as Azure can improve your energy efficiency up to 93% and be up to 98% more carbon-efficient than on-premise servers.

That was the experience of the ASISA group when they successfully migrated 3TB of databases (securely and without service interruption) from a physical data server to Azure. Just for the SQL Server requests, the usage of resources was reduced by over 50%. You can access all the information in our case study.

Digitalization vs. paper: Avoiding waste while optimizing processes

Facts are overwhelming: each minute, 800 tons of paper are manufactured, requiring resources like wood, water, and electricity, among others. Around 50% of the waste of numerous companies is documents and printed materials, and the polluting substances generated from its manufacture and decay are even more dangerous than CO2.

But thanks to countless advancements in technology, we can keep reducing its usage. For instance, Transmediterránea implemented an eco-friendly system for expediting boarding that removed the need for physical contact or forms. That way is dispensing with the printing of 2,5 million cards annually.

But after we have digitized our data, how can we surf our way through that much information? Artificial Intelligence holds much of the key, as was the case for AENOR. AI did solve the problem of classifying and optimizing search for their extensive documental database, thus making the results for their users and employees more relevant, accessible, and responsive than ever.

Science and technology for sustainability

Firms in the energy and supply industries are dedicating significant efforts to sustainable and renewable policies, with intentions and aim similar to those set by the European Commission, which has put their goals for renewable energy to reach a 32% for 2030 and an objective for climate neutrality in 2050. Or investing in the development of new forms of “green energy” like renewable hydrogen.

Companies like Acciona are accepting the challenge and expanding their activity linked to these environmentally friendlier sources. The application of Computer Vision and Big Data in that areas is enabling a more streamlined production and a notable cost reduction in those areas too.

That was also the case of Exolum (CLH). This company deployed AI and Computer Vision to optimize maintenance routines, instantly detect leaks and perform a more accurate forecast of demand.

Everything associated with “Smart Energy” will be part of the new paradigm that will stay relevant for the next decades. And that’s also the future that we are committed to at our company: with Smart Concepts, our IoT platform for energy efficiency, or by building Digital Twins for our partners.

Technology and Environment

As Microsoft Partners, we would also like to highlight and cheer on some of their recent initiatives regarding the application of AI and other technological solutions to tackle environmental issues. “AI for Earth” supports organizations and citizen science with grants and infrastructure, employing Azure and their cognitive services to watch for the forests, our water, and the endangered species.

More recently, “The Ocean Cleanup” is deploying Machine Learning and cloud technology from Microsoft to identify better and getting rid of the plastic floating on our rivers and seawater.

Sustainable innovation

Advancements like those mentioned earlier are making it possible to orchestrate greener and more sustainable corporate practices and policies without sacrificing efficiency or business growth. A scenario in which we all win and on which Plain Concepts does not stop making all kinds of bets, as you can see in our section, Sustainability

Plain Concepts sostenibilidad

 

 

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