Tech Services Providers Tackle Sustainability

Summary Bullets:

R. Bhattacharyya

• Corporate initiatives to promote greater environmentally responsible polices have become increasingly important to a broader audience in recent years

• Accenture and Salesforce plan to bring to market services that help enterprises better track and measure progress in implementing sustainability initiatives, including those related to diversity and governance.

Initiatives that promote environmental sustainability have been making headlines. In the fall of 2020, the state of California declared it would ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars and trucks starting in 2035. At the end of January President Biden announced plans to replace all federal government vehicles with electric vehicles. And two days later, GM made front page news by announcing that it would stop manufacturing gasoline and diesel fueled cars and SUVs by 2035.

While announcements in the automotive space command widespread attention, efforts to promote greater sustainability are quietly being implemented in other industries as well, including the technology sector. Technology services providers have taken a two-pronged approach to promoting improved sustainability. As a first step, they have vowed to reduce their own carbon footprints, with many French IT services firms assuming a leadership role. Atos, a French IT services provider, has pledged to reduce its carbon emissions by 50% over the next five years, and to reduce the carbon emissions it influences by 50% over the next ten years. Similarly, France-based Capgemini has committed to being carbon neutral no later than 2025 and to be net zero by 2030. These IT services companies plan to reduce business travel, increase the use of renewal energy, utilize hybrid and electric cars, scrutinize supply chains, and participate in initiatives such as reforestation.

The second, and complementary, part of technology providers’ strategies is to help customers reduce their carbon footprints. For example, Capgemini uses AI and analytics to help companies analyze and optimize energy consumption and implement logistics solutions that reduce fuel consumption. Atos is making significant investments in sustainability and expects that decarbonization activities will generate a 1% revenue increase for the company in the three to four years post COVID-19. In 2020 the company acquired EcoAct, a 160 person strong carbon reduction strategy consulting firm. Atos plans to work with EcoAct to launch a global Decarbonization Excellence Center in H1 2021 and will work with customers on decarbonization assessments and roadmaps for achieving carbon neutrality, and will offer digital solutions that decarbonize business processes.

At the end of January, two leading US technology companies, Accenture and Salesforce joined together to help customers address environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. The two technology powerhouses plan to bring to market services that help enterprises better track and measure progress in implementing sustainability initiatives. By leveraging Accenture’s Sustainability Services, Salesforce Sustainability Cloud, and Salesforce Customer 360, the two companies plan to provide CXOs with better visibility into their historical and current ESG data, including carbon usage, facilitating adherence to regulatory requirements. Salesforce Sustainability Cloud provides users with a platform to track their carbon footprint and report on climate data. Accenture will work with clients to help them integrate Salesforce Sustainability Cloud into their business models while addressing industry-specific requirements. Particularly noteworthy in the announcement is that the two companies plan to work together to expand the platform. New capabilities will include, not only additional environmental metrics such as water and waste management, but also incorporate metrics related to social issues, such as diversity and inclusion.

Corporate initiatives to promote greater environmentally responsible polices have become increasingly important to a broader audience in recent years. A growing number of customers, investors, and employees want to know that the organizations they support are thinking about the ‘bigger picture’ and prioritizing efforts that contribute to the greater good. Newer to this theme of corporate responsibility are initiatives related to social issues. Several tech vendors, such as IBM, Verizon, and Salesforce have for years been promoting greater gender and racial diversity in their own workplaces. Many India-based IT services providers release data on the number of women they employ. However, the market hasn’t seen the widespread availability of solutions that are directly marketed to customers that address these concerns. Therefore, the announcement by Salesforce and Accenture that they plan to expand their platform to include data related to social and governance issues demonstrates impressive thought leadership.


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