A roadmap to innovation-led sustainability

The race is on. The businesses that most swiftly identify how to grow sustainably will transform their industries and secure enduring competitive advantage. The potential to move ambitiously, for the benefit of all stakeholders, is simply too valuable to ignore.

Welcome to innovation-led sustainability

The challenge is a broad one. Sustainability requires organizations to work out how to meet their own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same. They must invest in a greener future but maintain profitability, even though many new sustainable technologies do not yet have proven business cases at scale. This will include obvious imperatives such as decarbonization, emissions reductions and resource efficiency, but also wider ambitions around economic and social impact.


Businesses are confronting these issues – and they have to. Policymakers are increasingly setting decarbonization targets and requiring all businesses to report publicly on their progress. Stakeholders – from employees to investors and from customers to suppliers – are demanding positive change.


All companies must respond, but industrial energy faces particular challenges, since this usage accounts for 24% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. In Europe alone, the industrial manufacturing sector emits 730 million tons of CO2 equivalents every year. And, while European organizations have made some improvements, the European Environment Agency forecasts only a moderate decrease of 6–8% in emissions in the years to 2030.


Still, what is so encouraging is that leading organizations are not focusing on sustainability only because they have been instructed to do so. Rather, they are driving change because they recognize the tremendous opportunity at hand. They see the potential for growth that creates new value for their businesses – for their investors, certainly, but also for people and the planet as a whole.


To fulfill that potential, a broad and growing range of digital solutions offer businesses new routes to sustainability. These solutions can reduce impacts and support new business models and opportunities. For those organizations determined to set an example on the climate agenda, sustainability and transformation will go hand in hand, securing societal benefit and

competitive advantage.


In this report, we explore this possibility, considering how holistically applied digital solutions can deliver the sustainability gains that growing numbers of businesses are looking for.


Our key conclusions, detailed throughout the five chapters of this report, are as follows:

  1. The transition to sustainability is digital. Your roadmap to sustainable growth is inextricably linked to your organization’s digital transformation strategy and the partners through which you will deliver it.
  2. The whole will be greater than the sum of its parts. Don’t focus on individual solutions, even if they unlock sustainable growth. Rather, look at working with complementary tools and providers to accelerate your progress.
  3. Digital transformation is a process of continuous improvement.Through an ongoing cycle of planning, implementation and evaluation, your organization can create virtuous cycles, constantly iterating for better results..
  4. Innovation-led sustainability will create new business models and revenue streams. Digital technologies provide the way to secure these advances.
  5. You cannot do this alone. Platforms and ecosystems provide your organization with a one-stop-shop for accessing multiple digital solutions from a community of suppliers and developers. The right combination of these solutions will vary according to your organization’s specific needs.



The bottom line is that by combining the real and digital world – meaning merging of physical and virtual worlds to create new environments and visualizations, where physical and digital objects coexist and interact in real time – every organization can create a virtuous cycle of sustainable growth.


To achieve that, it will be crucial to simplify the highly complex task of digital transformation – to scale solutions and bring together the numerous different technologies and partners. Industrial business platforms will be vital instruments in facilitating and accelerating digital transformation for the mutual benefit of all partners. They will enable organizations to collaborate across devices, applications and systems to build and integrate sustainability solutions in every area of their activities.