By: Bhushan Patil, SVP EMEA, Tech Mahindra
Among the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic has been the acceleration of digital transformation initiatives by businesses across the globe. Forced to quickly adapt to new and different ways of working, organisations everywhere turned to digital solutions to find a way through the “new normal”. Many have even recognised digital transformation as enabling them to survive these uncertain times.
However, as countries and economies begin to slowly emerge from the shadow of COVID, it has become clear that the way we run our businesses will never be the same again. We are now more reliant on technology than ever. Over the last 16 months, businesses have seen first-hand the benefits of emerging technologies such as 5G, AI (Artificial Intelligence), IoT (Internet of Things) and the cloud. It’s little surprise then, that by 2022, 70 percent of organisations are predicted to upgrade their adoption of digital technologies in an effort to boost productivity, transform their processes, and create new revenue streams.
While organisations have been accelerating their digital adoption, the growing urge from governments and the public to combat climate change, makes it imperative to move toward more sustainable business models. They understand the need to strike a balance between profitability and sustainability. After all, sustainability has grown bigger than just carbon emission and businesses that embed sustainability at the core of their operations will be the ones most likely to succeed in the future.
New technologies such as AI, 5G, and IoT can make a significant positive impact across any sector. Take manufacturing, for example, where the introduction of 5G connectivity and IoT principles have led to the rise of the Smart Factories. The use of automation on these advanced factory floors allows manufacturers to enjoy a range of new efficiency benefits, including more predictable production capacity, more reliable quality, better visibility across the supply chain and a lower overall cost of production. The heightened visibility over the shop floor – and all the machines it contains – also significantly boosts worker safety and the productivity levels.
5G is also proving hugely beneficial to the healthcare sector. By connecting millions of patients – especially those in rural areas – with access to top class medical suppliers and remote treatment, its ability to disrupt physical and virtual barriers will transform healthcare, expanding the reach of practitioners, and improving both the quality and effectiveness of the care they deliver.
The digital technologies can also improve end-to-end visibility in supply chain management. AI and advanced warning systems capable of highlighting pain points such as over-dependence on a single supplier, pricing pressures, or transportation bottlenecks will help firms resist shocks that – as COVID demonstrated – can completely derail a business.
Importantly, as well as allowing businesses to achieve specific business goals, these technologies can also play a key role in enabling more sustainable business models, helping to reduce harmful emissions, and move toward a more resilient zero-carbon future.
There is a widespread, multigenerational understanding of the importance of sustainability in a business. A recent report found that two-thirds of UK employees were more likely to work for a company with strong environmental policies, and that a similar number (63%) were keen to learn more green skills so they could be more valuable in a sustainable workplace.
Businesses are taking notice of this understanding, and are taking action. Companies across all sectors are exploring means of decarbonising their business models for a greener future. And digital transformation initiatives, powered by 5G, AI, IoT and the cloud, offer the best ways to achieve this.
The adoption of 5G for smart manufacturing and IoT, for example, will enable predictive maintenance, a reduction in resource usage, and an overall improvement in efficiency throughout the supply chain. A recent report suggests that, by implementing 5G technologies, the UK manufacturing sector has the potential to save 40 megatons of carbon emissions by 2035.
Growing cloud adoption offers significant sustainability benefits, too. Not only does it encourage the use of more efficient data centres, but also enables the hyperscalers to increasingly run on carbon-free energy.
COVID-19 forced businesses to accelerate their digital transformation initiatives, often as a matter of survival. Now that an end is in sight, and a sense of normality has begun to return, many businesses will continue to enjoy the benefits that their transformations have brought them. Not only will they be more efficient, more productive, and more profitable but importantly, in a world where climate change is at the top of most organisations’ agendas, their business will also be more sustainable.