In episode 28 of the Growth Swarm podcast, John Siefert, Bob Evans, Tony Uphoff, and Scott Vaughan discuss sustainability, and how it’s become an essential pillar of any organizations business strategy. The hosts dive into the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of operationalizing sustainability, which has positive outcomes for the world, customers, employees, business leaders, and finances — all thanks to the increased availability and of data to measure sustainability’s impact and optimize its deployment. The conversation also shares a few details about the upcoming Acceleration Economy Sustainability Impact Digital Summit digital event, which takes place online at 12pm ET/9am PT on January 26, 2023. This episode features an array of examples of companies who have demonstrated success in operationalizing sustainability.
00:35 — Today’s episode focuses on the topic of sustainability — a subject that seems to be flooding the news. Acceleration Economy analysts are direct practitioners in their fields. They stray from “fluff” and “buzzwords” in their analyses. Rather, Acceleration Economy analysts focus on the reality of these subjects.
01:10 — In this world, sustainability is discussed within the context of processes — specifically, how sustainability initiatives can be applied to business processes, without the risk of losing profitability or growth.
01:27 — John kicks off the discussion by referencing the newly announced partnership between PwC and SAP. Together, the companies are joining forces to develop innovation strategies to help organizations with their ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) and Net Zero targets. At the nucleus of this partnership is PwC’s accounting expertise and SAP’s sustainability cloud solutions. The partnership focuses on three specific things:
- Reporting and disclosure
- Operationalizing sustainability within the organization
- Supply chain risk management, monitoring, and compliance
This partnership represents a true sign of the times, notes John, before kicking it off to Tony to detail the “big things” he has been noticing about the impact sustainability can have on organizations.
03:27 — The focus has shifted to operationalizing sustainability strategies and initiatives. Now, nearly all major cloud providers have a sustainability cloud, which is just the first step. Operationalizing sustainability is not as easy as it sounds, but it will drive a lot of co-creation. Partner ecosystems will play a unique role in this overall mission, which relates to a cultural shift in considering sustainability as a business enabler.
06:25 — Companies like PwC and Accenture, which are higher-end consulting companies, will play a key role in providing domain expertise and taking sustainability from theory to action, adds John. Acceleration Economy analyst Tom Smith spoke with Accenture’s Silke Lehmann, Managing Director of Business Process Management – Global, about operationalizing sustainability. The two discussed how the process begins with identifying areas that can be tackled within the context of individual businesses.
07:33 — Recently, FedEx announced that by 2040, it will be a carbon neutral organization. John asks Bob how listeners should look at organizations, like FedEx, that plan to shift toward net zero impact, sustainability initiatives, and ESG strategies.
09:08 — The notion of companies wanting to implement sustainability initiatives is not new — what was lacking in the past is data that informs businesses on how sustainability can be operationalized. Bob suggests that the success of implementing these initiatives comes down to the company’s culture — specifically as it relates to data.
09:57 — Cloud vendors have acknowledged the importance of inter-weaving financial data, sustainability data, and operational data, to create end-to-end solutions that can successfully tackle these issues. Microsoft has begun to weave sustainability tools into its supply chain applications, which demonstrates how companies can effectively achieve this goal.
11:25 — John advises that companies should “let the data show you the impact.” If companies are relying solely on expertise — and not clean, accurate data — then sustainability becomes an issue of “ideas, not an issue of facts.” John notes that a company that is doing a good job with its sustainability initiatives is GOYA Foods, particularly in its supply chain management and the way in which this is implemented into overall business operations. To hear more about this, make sure to attend Acceleration Economy’s CIO Summit, where GOYA Foods CIO Suvajit Basu will be speaking. The three-day event will be held April 2-4, 2023 in Scottsdale, Arizona.
13:25 — Scott notes the shift in conversations around sustainability, which until recently revolved around “breed marketing,” but now reflects a greater notion of its positive impact on customers, businesses, and employees — all thanks to data around sustainability initatives. Having proper data around sustainability has been a “big leap forward” that the world needed.
15:22 — John adds how the financial impact of sustainability is being felt everywhere — both customers and partners are refusing to work with organizations that lack a sustainability strategy. He references another example as to how companies are operationalizing sustainability through the case of Whole Foods, the Amazon-owned grocery retailer that is refusing to source lobsters from Maine because of the impacts the fishing nets have on whales in the waters there Examples of companies operationalizing sustainability are “all over the place.”
17:43 — Acceleration Economy will be hosting a Sustainability Impact Digital Summit on January 26th. The summit will feature an executive panel offering real-world insights, having real-world discussions, defining, and debating around sustainability. Tony notes that this event will replicate “what that buying committee looks like the inside of a company,” as it relates to operationalizing sustainability.
18:48 — Currently on the Acceleration Economy website, there are more than 290 pieces of content that directly relate to sustainability — a topic that will be a major focus for the company in the new year.
19:49 — Vendors will have the opportunity to give the audience a 10-minute presentation on how their solutions are impacting customers during the Sustainability Impact Digital Summit.
21:43 — Sustainability is not a campaign or a marketing slogan — it is something to be taken very seriously, but should be approached by business leaders with a bit of humility.
For timely insights from Cloud Wars Founder Bob Evans and a roster of leading CXOs on the hows and whys of sustainability’s impact on business processes and profits, please join us for the Acceleration Economy Sustainability Impact Digital Summit on January 26, 2023. Register today for your free streaming pass here.
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