How can AI help achieve your business’ sustainability goals?
By Rob Cottrill, Technology Director at digital transformation specialist ANS, discusses how businesses can optimise AI to achieve sustainability goals.
It’s no secret that sustainability has climbed to become a top priority for many businesses. With 90% of executives thinking sustainability is important, it’s already become a fundamental point of discussion in boardrooms of all sizes. Senior executives are looking at tackling these challenges using technology. AI is something that can’t be ignored to stay competitive, so the key question for managers now is how can AI support the sustainability agenda?
Technology’s role in sustainable business
Technology is a key factor in helping businesses to boost their sustainability credentials. A recent study by Accenture found that 100% of the 560 companies surveyed said technology was important to achieving their sustainability targets.
From utilising online PDF tools, like Adobe, in efforts to go paperless or moving to the sustainable cloud to reduce the energy required for on-premise data centres, the technologies available to businesses to reach sustainability targets are varied. Businesses need to determine what technologies will best fit their needs, to improve both financial and environmental performance.
The rise of AI
AI has taken businesses by storm with promises of boosting productivity and creating millions of new jobs. However, as the technology is still relatively new, there is work to be done to understand how to implement the technology sustainably.
As with any technology, AI has the potential to consume large amounts of energy if not used efficiently. So, business leaders need to make sure they know how to use AI effectively, not just to cut costs but also reach sustainability objectives.
What is sustainable AI?
With so many different phrases and definitions around AI and sustainability, senior execs may not be aware of what sustainable AI truly means. Gartner says sustainable AI is when the impact of AI lies within the framework of the business’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In other words, the benefits of AI don’t cause a detrimental effect on the environment.
How is AI helping the environment?
When we look to the future, AI can provide many positive uses that benefit the environment. This can range from monitoring traffic to reduce congestion, to providing AI-infused clean distributed energy grids. There’s no question that AI can be put to good use to achieve net zero goals.
A recent report by PWC found that using AI for environmental applications is capable of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by around 1.5-4.0% by 2030. This means AI has huge potential to support industries that currently account for a large proportion of greenhouse gas emissions. The same report found that technology can help reduce emissions in key industries like energy and transport by up to 2.2%. Utilising AI can therefore reduce environmental harm as it can optimise performance within these industries, enabling more sustainable operations.
How can businesses ensure AI is sustainable?
There’s no denying that AI has the potential to facilitate more sustainable business operations. However, understanding the different ways that AI can be implemented is key for business leaders and decision-makers to help them reach their sustainable development goals.
Partnering with technology providers can be a vital step for businesses. Managers can collaborate with AI and sustainability experts to understand the most fitting AI technologies to best cater to their specific business needs. Specialists can provide unique insights that managers may benefit from, especially given the relative novelty and constantly evolving nature of AI.
The potential for sustainable AI
Business leaders need to make sure that they are thinking about sustainability and AI collaboratively, rather than as separate entities. By doing this they can better understand how the two can work together, allowing their businesses to be competitive in performance while also having good ESG credentials.
To do this, collaborating with tech consultants can be transformational to ensure AI adoption aligns with sustainable technology strategies to achieve their net zero goals. As a result, businesses will be able to take advantage of improved performance while also reducing their impact on the environment. If businesses can balance the benefits of AI with environmental responsibility, the technology has the potential to become a game-changer for sustainability initiatives.