Article by Sachin Nigam, CTO and Co-founder of Goavega
While accelerated technology adoption and innovations have been disrupting business processes world over, it is also shaping up the future of greener business practices. While SEBI’s Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting (BRSR), is set to be applicable, on voluntary basis, for top-1,000 listed entities by market capitalisation, for FY 2020-21, it is set to become a norm post FY2021. Additionally, as lockdowns relax world over, and businesses start to get back on track, global investors and funding needs, driven by ecological and social corporate responsibility criteria are set to become mainstream. As per SEBI, in the last two years alone, global investors have begun to demand a continuous monitoring of ESG (environmental, social, and governance) action, reporting, and readiness among corporate entities, making the choice of green business technology and practices, lucrative.
Accelerated technology innovations in the time of COVID have also driven energy and resource optimisations. Some key solutions that can help businesses adopt green practices include:
- Cloud Computing: With the new WFH norms, cloud computing is the most secure and preferred technology adoption by most companies as it allows for secure, scalable and agile information transfer, allowing various members of the team to work seamlessly through a common, secure network. However, cloud computing also eliminates the need for physical servers. This is essentially beneficial to reducing the carbon footprint as traditional data hardware systems are generally high maintenance, and require uninterruptible power supplies, cooling, and tons of electricity. Moving to Cloud Computing allows optimisation of energy by these software applications by 87%, thereby reducing physical space and energy consumption.
- Digital Unified Communications: Integrated digital communications has become the norm of the day now, with remote working operations that became rampant, thanks to the pandemic. E-mails, WhatsApp, intranet and inter-departmental communication through dedicated secure apps, can all help create a communication ecosystem that enhances efficiency and reduces dependency on the paper trail. Digital Unified Communication processes also help companies to go paperless completely, creating a transparent system for all internal and external communications, especially for departments like finance and HR, which are still reasonably dependent on hard copy communications.
- IoT for green practices: The Internet of Things, which leverages AI and ML, can contribute immensely to making devices increasingly smarter and energy-efficient. The technology can be leveraged for automating processes like maintenance and monitoring of energy consumption, reporting, data collection, analytics, and optimizing smart grids. Increasingly, smart devices in offices and industries, help control heating, air conditioning, and lighting, thus reducing energy consumption. IoT has also found application in the process of generating renewable energy on-site and measuring carbon consumption.
- Blockchain: This is one technology that is gaining popularity, mostly because of its applications in crypto-currency but also because of bringing automation and transparency in transactions across platforms. The technology has been instrumental in transactions traceable, secure, and quick. Blockchain has also found application in making green energy supply more lucrative, by efficient, flexible, and transparent processes that incentivise the production and consumption of 100 % renewable energy.
- eWaste management and recycling: This is one of the key aspects that need to be adopted by companies planning to adopt green business processes. According to a recent report by the Central Pollution Control Board, India collected just 10% of the electronic waste (e-waste) estimated to have been generated in the country 2018-19 and just 3.5% of what was generated in 2017-18, creating an urgent need for recycling. As per the guidelines by the environment ministry, the manufacturers would be held responsible for the collection of end-of-life electronic products as part of the Extended Producer Responsibility, which is as per the global guidelines.
Even as India aspires to become a global economy, with a strong focus on digital inclusion, cashless transactions, and setting up a connected and efficient technology infrastructure for business, India Inc. needs to urgently fall in line with the global norms of environmental and social responsibility to be able to truly make a mark in the global markets. As a hub of technology innovations and start-ups, finding the right technology solution that facilitates the adoption of green business practices for start-ups, SME’s, MSME’s and multinational’s alike, is not just feasible but also imperative.