For the first time in history, CEOs are now placing environmental sustainability in their top 10 strategic business priorities, according to findings from the Gartner 2022 CEO and Senior Business Executive Survey.
“We are seeing that environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are more of a priority today than they have ever been,” says Caryn Sklar, managing enterprise architect at Capgemini. “It’s generally among the top three, but the focus is still on profit margins. C-suite executives are often keener to implement ESG strategies when they don’t impact profits. However, many aren’t aware that ESG innovations and best practices can actually pay for themselves or increase revenue.”
Sklar has spent more than 25 years helping executives and decision-makers to implement IT processes that align with business objectives. “If our clients do not highlight ESG as a priority themselves, it is always something that we introduce to the conversation,” she says. “We help organisations to understand where ESG can fit into their business plans and transformation goals, and how they can better support their employees.”
Gartner also noted that 74 per cent of CEOs agreed that increasing ESG efforts attracts investors, and Sklar believes this effect can also be seen among consumers. “It’s about the perception that customers have of the businesses to which they are loyal,” says Sklar. “And the same can be said in recruitment. Businesses that care about these issues and are actively doing something about them are better equipped to attract the younger professional talent out there.”
Enterprise architecture – in other words, the structures and behaviours of a business, particularly when it comes to the business roles and processes that create and use data – can help businesses implement an effective ESG strategy.
“Enterprise architecture is not about the quick wins in the here and now,” says Sklar. “It’s about providing greater visibility into what’s going on and what could happen in the future.”
And Gareth Burton, CEO of Orbus Software – the company behind enterprise architecture solution OrbusInfinity – agrees: “It’s the idea of structuring a business around its data and functions. This includes business services, business capability and technology strategy, and having this visibility throughout the entire organisation.”
The solution provides organisations with visibility into their current operations so they can better understand how proposed changes could create meaningful impact. A good ESG strategy will focus on sustaining the organisation, and therefore building resilience.
“The dimensions that we look at when executing ESG activities are strategy, roadmaps, employees and business,” says Sklar. “When you’re implementing a technology architecture, it has to hit all four of these to be effective.
“We help them to classify different business elements and how they might become more sustainable,” says Sklar. “For example, accounting departments might not really need to change much – beyond paper-based invoices – but there is a lot of scope for improved practices in supply chain, warehousing and logistics. OrbusInfinity provides at-a-glance views of their business services and where they need to focus to reach their ESG goals.”
The platform can also assist businesses with challenges in traceability, being able to account for their own footprints as well as those of their suppliers and any organisations with which they work. “And this is becoming particularly fundamental for software-as-a-service and cloud-based solutions,” says Sklar. “While a company may only be using one six-hundredth of a business’s SaaS estate, that business is holding its customer’s data in Azure. It is contributing to the Azure infrastructure, so there is a cost and a footprint associated with that.”
Sklar believes that there is another ‘e’ to add to ESG agendas – ethics. “When we talk about sustainability, we generally look at the three pillars of environmental, social and governance, but there is a fourth,” she says. “It’s already included a little within the social aspect, with fair trade, local sourcing etc. But businesses must now consider more acutely who they are partnering with, how those partners are doing business, how do you go to market in specific countries. But there are internal measures too, such as treating employees ethically.”
To support businesses on this journey, Capgemini carries out employee assessments, provides educational sessions and publishes best practices for sustainable IT.
“Business is changing, so we must adjust the processes and technologies we use accordingly,” says Sklar. “Enterprise architecture – and the OrbusInfinity platform – give businesses the tools they need to meet the needs of the future, today.”
This article was originally published in the Spring 2023 issue of Technology Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.