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How Digital Twins & Data Analytics Power Sustainability

Digital tools and technologies are helping businesses rewire, reformulate, and repackage to support sustainability. But of course, IT needs to support those efforts.

There's mounting pressure on organizations of all shapes and sizes to take sustainability efforts to the next level. But while much of the focus is on IT executives to wring out inefficiencies in data centers, servers and on various devices, there's another aspect that often winds up overlooked: the role of IT in supporting more sustainable products and services.

Various digital tools and technologies — including analytics, artificial intelligence and digital twins, computer aided design, machine learning, and deep learning — can help businesses rewire, reformulate, and repackage products and services to meet the needs of different business groups, including R&D, operations, and logistics.

For a consumer goods company, this may translate into a bottle that's derived from plant-based materials. For an airline, it might mean moving to synthetic hydrocarbon fuels that cost less and dramatically reduce the waste stream. For a clothing retailer, it's likely about using recycled fabrics and more sustainable materials. For just about everyone, there's a need to reduce packaging materials.

Make no mistake, as businesses look to improve environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics, reduce carbon emissions and minimize environmental impacts, IT input is crucial. Organizations require the right IT foundation — increasingly an agile cloud-first framework — to support ESG initiatives and unleash innovation at scale.

"Just as digital transformation required every company to become a technology company, with technology at its heart, now every business needs to become sustainable — and technology is again taking centerstage," explains Sanjay Podder, managing director and technology sustainability lead at Accenture.

Unlocking Value

There are more than altruistic reasons to weave sustainability into the fabric of an organization. Nearly two-thirds of consumers (66%) plan to make more sustainable or ethical purchases, according to a recent Accenture and World Economic Forum report. Companies with ESG programs in the top quartile realized financial returns about 21% better than peers for a seven-year period ending in 2020. They also achieved 2.6 times higher total shareholder returns.

Read the rest of this article on InformationWeek.

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