We hear a lot about sustainability lately. And there’s a good reason for that. Sustainability nowadays is no longer only about compliancy and crisis management. From retail & fashion to manufacturing and tech, all industries are feeling the pressure to position their products and services in front of their customers through the lens of sustainability. Sustainability programs have become a powerful tool for market differentiation, cost reduction, and brand loyalty. And customers are demanding them more than ever. According to a recent study by GfK, 80% of global consumers expect companies to pay attention to the environment and 36% of the same will choose one brand over another because it supports a cause they believe in.
But how do you as an organization start your own sustainability journey? And more importantly – how do you differentiate from your competitors, create credibility through measurable positive impact, and stand out from all the greenwashing out there?
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” – P. Drucker
The Gartner 2020 Sustainability survey revealed that 90% of organizations increased their investments in sustainability programs between 2017 and 2020. However, according to another report by Capgemini, only 18% (of organizations) have a comprehensive, sustainable IT strategy with well-defined goals and a targeted timeline.
To a big extent, the success of your sustainability program is about setting your sustainability goals right. Just like with any other big project or initiative, you want to set SMART goals from the very beginning. This means you want your goals to be exact and focused on an achievable outcome that can be measured and that is impactful to your business and customers. Even if we wanted to, our organizations wouldn’t be able to tackle all 17 of the United Nation’s Sustainability goals.
Once your organization has defined the specific area for improvement and goals for its sustainability program, it also needs to define the right tools and resources to deploy the strategy. And often what gets recognized at this point is that many organizations don’t have enough insight into their own data, resources, and workflows. Find this hard to believe? An average company with 200 to 500 employees uses about 123 SaaS applications these days. And this doesn’t include ERP, HR, and legacy systems.
So, how do you set a baseline for your sustainability program if you can’t measure the status quo? And more importantly, how would you create credibility in front of your customers if you’re not able to measure the impact of your sustainability programs?
The role of integration
You can think of integration as the backbone of connectivity across your business. Integrations are the pipelines that connect your different applications and data sources and help you get a unified view of data.
When you choose your integration platform, you need to make sure you’ll be able to access and integrate ALL your data, no matter if your data lives in the cloud, on prem, or in between both.
Having a unified view is the first step and the digital backbone of your ESG program strategy. It will help you get a better understanding of what needs to be addressed and how it can be measured.
Don’t forget that your sustainability program is not just about brand credibility and your customers’ loyalty. It’s also about improving internal processes for the sake of efficiency and the wellbeing of your own employees.
In the end, sustainability is about doing the right things right. And to do so, you need to be able to set a realistic goal based on your current data. This could be your carbon footprint, energy and/or paper consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and more. Every sustainability journey is unique.
Building your own API Sustainability platform
Once your ESG strategy is in place with specific and measurable goals, you can start thinking about the tools to start creating impact and measuring progress. According to the same report from Capgemini, 53% of organizations say they do not have the required expertise for sustainable IT implementation. Fortunately for you, you won’t always have to start from scratch and build your own APIs and solutions for a successful ESG program. There’re multiple sustainability APIs out there to help you get started.
What you need to consider at this point is building your own API Sustainability platform using an API Management platform. Choosing the right API Management platform will help you access, catalog, and manage sustainability APIs and their consumption while maximizing investment and value without sacrificing security.
Using sustainability APIs, you’ll be able to capture real-time data on energy usage, carbon emissions in buildings and facilities, and more. Based on the data coming from sustainability APIs, you’ll then be able to create self-service capabilities via APIs which can reduce energy use and emissions in travel and phone support, for instance. The possibilities across industries are endless.
Your sustainability program is not a one-off exercise
The short-term success of your sustainability program will ultimately depend on your sustainability goals and tactics, backed up with realistic timelines, the right technology, and resources. However, sustainability is not a one-off exercise and project. In order to showcase impact and credibility in the long run, you will need to create repetitive and automated processes as part of the program across your organization. Just like glass bottles, integrations can be re-used and recycled, too. They can automate processes that create efficiencies which can be monitored on an ongoing basis. Setting these repetitive processes and automations in the long run, while also leveraging the power of sustainability APIs and the data coming from them, will help you create a solid backbone for the tracking and reporting of your ESG efforts.
Sustainability is not a dirty word, and it shouldn’t be. Paying attention to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues is becoming increasingly critical, and more and more companies are heavily investing in this area. Sustainability is, and should be, a measurable business approach which, once weaved into your corporate strategy, can help you create long-term value, increase revenue, and improve brand perception and customer loyalty.
The right API Management & Integration platform will help you differentiate yourself from the competition and create measurable value and impact for your customers. And ultimately, help you do the right things right for a better future, for all.
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