Nearly four in five (79%) businesses say digital technology is playing a key role in achieving sustainability goals. Now, most are boosting their investment in digital and automation to achieve efficiencies and emissions reductions, according to new research findings.
Conducted on behalf of Schneider Electric, the global leader in the digital transformation of energy management, the Sustainability Index: transforming intention to outcomes report surveyed more than 500 business managers and decision-makers across corporate Australia. It found that three quarters (75%) believe that the benefits of adopting sustainable technology outweigh the costs.
Compared to three years ago, 57% of respondents report that their companies are investing more today in digital transformation, as well as automation (42%) and electric vehicles (24%).
The rapid investment in energy efficiency is part of an industry–wide digital revolution adds Gareth O’Reilly, Schneider Electric’s Pacific Zone President:
“From more transparent supply chains, to effective waste management, businesses recognise the financial imperatives for digitalisation. They also know they must act on climate change, making the digitalisation of energy management a clear choice for all businesses that will only gather pace in coming years,” Mr O’Reilly says.
Almost half (46%) of businesses have already built a data capture and reporting strategy to inform their journey to net zero, with 14% well on their way to putting their strategy into action.
Currently, most businesses (72%) are capturing some energy usage data via utility and service provider bills, spreadsheets, and utility data extracts. Encouragingly, over half (58%) are already incorporating energy measurement systems, IoT meters, sensors and other devices, or specific software.
Over the next two years, around three-quarters of business managers and decision-makers said it was likely or very likely their companies would invest in monitoring and reporting (79%), energy and resource efficiency measures (75%), real time data and automation (74%).
“Decarbonisation is the most urgent business imperative facing Australian businesses today and tech is the main solution,” says Mr O’Reilly.
“Most organisations have a lot of work to do to reach net zero and this starts with understanding their impacts on climate change, both directly and via their supply chain and end users. Leaders must invest in digitalisation of energy management now to understand the scope of the challenge ahead and identify the solutions needed to reach sustainability targets,” he says.
The majority of business leaders (73%) reported that their businesses are likely, or very likely, to invest in renewable energy solutions on site, such as rooftop solar or microgrids, in the next two years. This extended to 62% investing in transportation or clean fleet initiatives and 59% in battery storage, fuel cells or microgrids by 2024.
The appetite for sustainable technologies is being driven by factors including pressures from within markets, from investors and from the general public.
“Our research shows that the vast majority of respondents recognise that sustainability provides a competitive advantage and boosts profitability. These are growing sentiments that will continue to make the business case for digitalisation, automation, and AI in energy management,” says Mr O’Reilly.
Respondents also shared their concerns around failing to keep up with climate targets, with one reporting “We will be forced to change, otherwise we will be left behind by competitors.”
“Australia and the world are at the intersection of a digital industrial revolution and the fight for climate change and at the heart of each is the need for better technology. Digitalisation is no longer a nice-to-have, but an imperative for not just profit, but for people and planet,” Mr O’Reilly concludes.