Software AG recently announced the findings of a global survey of over 2,000 senior IT decision-makers from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France. In the face of economic challenges, the majority of firms (84%) will prioritize commercial aims over sustainability. Despite the fact that virtually all (95%) CEOs think that sustainability is a top or high priority, and a comparable percentage (97%) agree that other organizations’ sustainability credentials are either vital or crucial in their own purchasing decisions, this remains the case. The yearly Reality Check report looks into how technological initiatives might serve both sustainability and business goals.

Despite the difficulties of delivering sustainability initiatives, 87% of companies believe that they will lose investors if they don’t have a clear strategy and many lack the technology to deliver one. In almost a third (32%) of cases the necessary technology is simply not in place. And even when it is available, it is poorly implemented or used by almost half (47%) of companies. In particular, 36% say that they are unable to effectively track the progress of sustainability initiatives to determine whether they are effective.

The majority (87%) of organizations tackle sustainability and digital transformation separately. The Reality Check report shows how an integrated approach can address multiple challenges at once. Promisingly, a third (33%) of organizations have already integrated sustainability plans into their technology roadmap.

Sanjay Brahmawar, CEO, Software AG commented:
“In the current climate, it’s no surprise that commercial objectives are a top priority – they have to be otherwise organizations cannot continue to operate. We are keen to help organizations to find solutions using the ‘Genius of AND’, where they don’t have to be torn between commercial and sustainability objectives. The right application of mission critical technologies can make enterprises more connected. When this happens, and data is free to move around it and be accessible to everyone who needs it, we will start to see progress in multiple areas at once.”

Rami Kichli, Senior Vice President, Middle East and Turkey, Software AG stated, “Sustainability is today what Digital Transformation was almost a decade ago, good to have but not a must have. However, the heartening aspect is that almost 90% companies feel the need to build business strategies founded on sustainability. This to me is a great start that companies are getting responsible in their business operations, and many are also pledging their commitment towards UN Global Compact (UNGC). In the Middle East region, we are witnessing this change, especially with leaders of governments like UAE and Saudi Arabia who are spearheading this, in addition to nations in the region committing timeframes towards achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. We remain committed to technology adoption driven with a purpose for our customers, employees and communities.”

Technology-enabled sustainability

Digital transformation is a priority for organizations. In fact, more than two-thirds (69%) of CEOs even plan to divert resources from other areas into their digital transformation efforts.

According to business leaders, the technologies that have the most positive impact on sustainability are cloud (45%), data integration (28%) and edge computing (27%). Together, they enable organizations to gain visibility of their environmental impact and therefore reduce emissions and waste as well as costs and process inefficiencies.

Improvements in these areas will also yield commercial benefits. For example, API-enabled, hybrid cloud environments enable more efficiencies and innovative new services for customers. Meanwhile, data integration helps organizations to combine multiple data streams to inform advanced analytics and decision-making. Edge computing delivers visibility across expansive operations via Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and devices capable of making decisions about the data they capture.

Alongside these benefits, there are also costs to inaction. In fact, 82% of companies candidly admit that they would accept regulatory penalties to avoid taking on sustainability initiatives. This is likely because of the cost and difficulty of delivering such projects. However, beyond the cost of non-compliance, the majority (84%) believe that without a clear sustainability strategy they are also likely to lose staff. This risk is real, as 82% of companies acknowledge that employees don’t have clear sustainability targets, incentives or reporting of the kind they have with commercial initiatives.

To learn more about the opportunities that technology-enabled sustainability presents to organizations, read the Reality Check 2023. To read more about Software AG’s research, view the Situation Report 2023