As the effects of climate change and energy crisis are becoming more strongly felt, organizations of all types, sizes, and sectors are looking to transform common practices and comply with the new sustainability imperative. Businesses are facing unprecedented pressure to be transparent about their sustainability progress and reduce energy costs. In Europe, the proposed sustainability reporting regulation is expected to impact nearly 50 thousand entities – more than four times as many entities as are reporting today. EU subsidiaries of companies will also be required to provide environmental, social, and governance (ESG) disclosures.
There is also a growing demand from investors who are, understandably, asking companies to disclose sustainability metrics and associated risks and mitigation strategies. 73 percent of investors state that this contributes to their investment decisions. Customers demand to know the details about how their products are manufactured and procured. In a recent survey, 62 percent of global consumers say they’re willing to change their purchasing habits to reduce environmental impact; and 50 percent of consumers say they’re willing to pay a premium for sustainable brands. Businesses are already driving the shifts required to address climate change. As governments, industries, and markets continue to reallocate capital towards decarbonization, collective actions could benefit every region of the world with gains in growth, income, and jobs.
Building a sustainable IT infrastructure
Microsoft enables organizations to gain transparency and the insights they need to manage their environmental footprint, embed sustainability through their organization and value chains, and create new values in a changing world.
“Sustainability is both our responsibility and opportunity, and it is the only way forward. When you think about everything we do (or could do) to address climate change, it also helps to solve other challenges – digital services mean less paper and less waste, hybrid work means less travel, more time, and faster collaboration, cutting down air pollution means fewer health problems, energy-efficient buildings mean better living”, said Petra Čiček, Sustainability Lead for Central and Eastern Europe at Microsoft.
In the World Economic Forum report – climate topic as part of a business strategy is not anymore a choice, but a must, as 5 out of the top 10 business risks are related to the environment. The rest is directly or indirectly impacted by climate change as well.
“Businesses that build their strategy with sustainability at the core are the ones that will gain competitive advantage in the long run – attracting talent, being preferred by consumers, having the resiliency for climate challenges. The ability of organizations to respond to sustainability demands and opportunities in the next few years will determine their future success,“ added Petra.
Good for business, good for the planet
Four big value chains — food, energy, infrastructure, and fashion — are responsible for more than 90 percent of the man-made pressure on biodiversity, and 77 percent of consumers are motivated to purchase from companies committed to making the world a better place. Hence, organizations need better visibility into the environmental footprint of their entire operations, their products, and their value chains, but the data is difficult to collect since it comes from suppliers and other partners outside the organization. Through technology adoption by customers and partners, companies can drive positive global impact, accelerated by investments, engagement in policy, and commitment to innovation. A data-first approach can help organizations achieve data integrity and gain visibility into emissions across their enterprises.
Microsoft helps organizations break down data silos across emissions sources and uses a publicly available Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability data model with Microsoft Sustainability Manager that helps organizations get data-driven, real-time insight on carbon emissions. With Microsoft and Microsoft Partners’ solutions within Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, companies can unify data intelligence, build a sustainable IT infrastructure, reduce the environmental impact of operations, and create sustainable value chains. Microsoft Sustainability Manager enables organizations to record, report, and reduce their environmental impact through increasingly automated data connections that deliver actionable insights more easily. It streamlines data integration, calculations, and reporting across the organization and value chain. Today, this solution is focused on carbon emissions; ultimately, it will enable organizations to record, report, and reduce water and waste, too.
Crafting sustainable future
The study from Microsoft showed that Microsoft Cloud is up to 98 percent more carbon efficient and up to 93 percent more energy efficient than the on-premise, traditional data centers. The impact of using cloud services will improve even more as society continues to refine how to manage capacity, boost energy efficiency, reduce waste, and add new renewable energy sources. For customers already using Microsoft Cloud, we are helping to measure their Microsoft Cloud-based emissions and carbon savings potential through Microsoft Emissions Impact Dashboard.
By combining Power Apps with Microsoft Teams, the Latvian air company easily managed crew shifts via mobile devices, seamless payroll integration, and quick paperless post-flight report submissions. The company eliminated the need to print 1,000 print report pages a month and reduced the time for data input from two days to 15 minutes. On the other side of Europe, in Croatia, Microsoft Azure-based system has been created for enrolling children in kindergartens, which also manages administrative functions, thus saving 30 percent in infrastructure costs and 70 percent in infrastructure procurement and installation time, compared to on-premise infrastructure.
“We must be intentional and optimistic and focus on things we can do today, share what we do and what we’ve learned, our best practices. Let’s collaborate. No single person, company, government, or organization can do it alone or siloed. For businesses, it all starts with understanding where you are – combining the data from “different silos” in your organization for more informed decision-making and setting clear and committed goals. We have all the technology and solutions to support this step,” concluded Petra.
Carbon emission reduction is a value-chain effort. Only together can companies accelerate progress to reach their collective sustainability goals. With partners and customers, Microsoft continues its mission to empower every person and organization to achieve more.