What is digital sustainability and how do you implement it?
As the main contributors to global warming, organizations are under the spotlight from international climate change groups, world governments, and increasingly mindful consumers.
Although it’s now common knowledge that climate change is threatening our planet, there is a disconnect between what business leaders are saying and what they are doing. Around 90% of executives consider sustainability to be important, but only 25% have incorporated it into their business model.
There seems to be a misconception about sustainability and how it affects business operations. In this blog we’ll explore how businesses can simultaneously integrate digital sustainability and increase efficiency and profitability.
What is digital sustainability?
Digital sustainability focuses on the everyday technology used by businesses to reduce environmental impact. It usually means adapting existing infrastructure or introducing new initiatives to help reach sustainability goals.
For example, if an office was trying to reduce its carbon footprint, it might opt for a digital filing system as opposed to a paper-based one. A factory might install sensors on machinery to increase efficiency and decrease energy waste. And a steel manufacturer could reduce waste with clever automated software.
All of these approaches have a significant impact on how much an organization damages the environment and how efficiently their day-to-day processes run. Let’s take a closer look at how these examples are bringing us closer to a leaner, greener future.
Find out how Nintex helps sustainable businesses to optimize their processes for greater efficiency in this case study with First Solar.
The paper argument
Every year US offices use 12.1 trillion sheets of paper. That’s around 10,000 sheets per office worker and an estimated 60 million trees that need to be cut down to meet demand. As the world’s biggest consumer of paper, US businesses could be at the forefront of reducing deforestation. But how can this be achieved in terms of digital sustainability?
Let’s take the example of signing documents. Traditionally, processes such as invoicing, contract drafting, and contract signing have been paper-based. Paper documents take time to ship to customers, they can be lost or damaged and they are susceptible to human error. But as document signing software becomes more common, these lengthy verification processes are being cut down.
Documents that only exist digitally can be backed up, so they don’t get lost. This streamlines all processes. They can be sent to customers instantly, at the click of a button. And now they can be signed online too, thanks to digital signing software. This reduces paper usage significantly – just think of all the invoices, contracts, and work orders you send and receive each year.
Waste not, want not
Industrial waste is another huge contributor to environmental damage. Unrecyclable waste must be transported to landfill or incinerated, causing huge damage to the environment. Even recyclable waste must be transported and processed, which takes a great deal of energy. The most effective way to reduce waste is to prevent it from being created, through a process called waste minimization – something that can be achieved through digital sustainability.
Minimizing waste can be achieved in several ways, but the most efficient way to cut down is to optimize the way you handle and process materials. This can be done through process discovery, process mapping and process optimization. This includes recording all the processes in your manufacturing process, then using specialist software to identify areas where materials are being wasted.
Not only does this reduce landfill usage and recycling energy usage, but it also cuts raw material costs and can save manufacturers’ time and money. Less waste also means greater margins and reduces purchasing costs, making businesses more profitable and increasing digital sustainability.
Efficient factories of the future
Factories require a huge amount of energy, generated by fossil fuels, to operate. Lighting, machinery, IT, security, everything needs power. In a similar way to the industrial waste issue highlighted above, wasted energy is a significant contributor to increased carbon dioxide levels, but it also wastes a great deal of money for the business operating the factory.
By reducing energy usage and creating a more efficient production process, machines can spend less time idle and production lines can flow more smoothly. How is this achieved? Process optimization software can build a map of all the processes that are taking place in a factory. It can assess where bottlenecks and blockers exist, then rearrange processes to find the most efficient route to completion.
This can be as “big-picture” as the order that a product enters each department in the factory, or as granular as each individual engineer’s production process. Process optimization software can identify all process inefficiencies and suggest better ways to reach the goal of your department, without wasting energy.
Discover digital sustainability with Nintex
Creating greater digital sustainability is all about reducing blind spots. Gaining greater visibility of everything you are doing, then optimizing the way you do it, can bring environmental benefits, as well as greater visibility and greater efficiency to your organization.
But manually finding these blind spots can take weeks, months, and even longer. Thankfully, modern-day process discovery and optimization software can slash these timeframes and reduce the amount of workload associated with process optimization.
At Nintex, our software is trusted by some of the world’s largest organizations to help them create a more sustainable business model – one that is kinder to the planet, your employees, and your profit margins.
To find out more about Nintex and how you can use it to drive digital sustainability, speak to a member of our team or start a 30 day free trial.