Accenture outlines how CIOs can unite sustainability and technology

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As technology continues to take a larger role in corporate sustainability practices, CIOs can play a key role in driving both business value and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance. 

In fact, creating and implementing a comprehensive sustainable technology strategy must now be the core mission of a purpose-driven CIO.

Every executive in Accenture’s recent sustainable technology survey agreed that technology is critical for achieving sustainability goals. So why have only seven per cent of businesses fully integrated their technology and sustainability strategies?

In part, it’s because this will require a fundamental shift to a business model that will affect the role of the CIO, who may not even be aware that their expertise is needed to address these challenges. 

Delivering on the promise of sustainable technology will require CIOs to take a seat at the sustainability table, where they must work in close collaboration with other executives to identify the technologies that will help their company achieve its ESG goals.

Despite how critically intertwined these goals are with technology investments and operations, less than half (49 per cent) of CIOs are included in their corporate leadership team’s decision-making processes around sustainability objectives and plans. 

Without CIOs being involved in these core responsibilities, ESG targets suffer — which is particularly concerning when considering companies that take the lead on ESG issues outperform their competition financially, generating up to 2.6 times more value for shareholders than their peers.

Why are some companies slow to action?

Given how important sustainability metrics are to companies and their stakeholders, it is crucial to identify why it is taking so long for some organisations to jump on board with new technological innovations to implement meaningful change.

Research has uncovered the following challenges:

  • Perceived lack of readiness and expertise: 40 per cent of executives surveyed believe that the right solutions are not available or not mature enough, including availability of the right talent to lead these initiatives. 
  • Complexity and challenges with implementation: 33 per cent of executives surveyed are struggling with the complexity of solutions or with modernising their legacy systems to be more sustainable. 
  • Awareness and understanding of impact: 20 per cent of executives surveyed are not aware of the unintended consequences of technology or whether the technology they use is sustainable. 

Examining these hurdles more closely, Accenture developed a Sustainable Technology Index, which ranks performance against the three elements on a scale of 0-1. 



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