Sustainability may be an overused and sometimes vague buzzword, but it’s an essential requirement for every part of a business, across customer relations and the regulatory environment, as well as for society. Oracle and IBM are two global leaders in sustainability, helping companies eliminate waste, make their supply chains more efficient and monitor equipment to make sure it’s performing at an optimal level.

Where sustainable supply chain operations are headed in 2023 (and beyond)

At Oracle CloudWorld in November 2022, Anna Visneski, an Oracle TV correspondent, talked to supply chain and sustainability experts from IBM and Oracle to get a read on the future of supply chain operations.

“Working in supply chain, and especially in logistics, you get exposed to a lot of the key areas where sustainability will make a difference,” says Joan Lim, Senior Manager of Product Marketing at Oracle. “We’re not talking about it enough. We’re not raising enough awareness. And it’s just so crucial now in everyday life to know about sustainability and better yet, to practice it.”

Rob Cushman, Global Leader in Sustainability and Supply Chain at IBM, agrees. “Sustainability is really the thread connecting everything that we’re doing in supply chain these days,” he says. “When we’re working with our clients, we are always asking how we can drive business change that incorporates sustainability and how to enable those changes with a new technology platform in the cloud.”

It’s no surprise that sustainability and logistics have become hot topics in the last two years amid massive economic disruptions that have spurred a re-evaluation of traditional supply chain models. So, what is IBM doing today that’s different from four or five years ago?

“There are some really exciting things that are changing in supply chain,” Cushman says. “We are focused on getting our clients to think about their transformation to a new supply chain model that’s much more sustainable as part of the journey that they’re going on to the cloud.”

Cushman sees more companies using data and investing in machine learning and artificial intelligence to drive “really radical changes” in business outcomes. “What we’ve learned is that we just can’t afford to think not about sustainability,” he says. “The pandemic proved that.”

Oracle and IBM: Harnessing synergies

For both Cushman and Lim, sustainability goes beyond a “passion project,” and they share the goal of shaping a better future. Oracle’s Lim says that listening to customers is the key to understanding where their business models are headed. We then “drive that change through the partnership with IBM and Oracle.” For IBM’s Cushman, 2022 was the year when a “big pivot happened” and most business leaders finally came to the realization that sustainability was imperative.

Companies today need to start thinking differently about their supply chains, and sustainable practices need to be designed into products right from the start, Cushman says. The design process is where 80% of the costs are committed and where 80% of the long-term sustainability impacts lie.

Sustainability also requires businesses to consider the entire lifecycle of a product, including how to bring products back into the business supply chain—or partner’s supply chain—in an end-to-end circular way. “We’ve got to go back to basics,” Cushman says. “We need to challenge all the assumptions in our product and supply chains and bake that into how we move things forward.”

Oracle’s Lim adds that one of the best ways to move ahead is to harness existing data to optimize the supply chain to drive sustainability. Companies can “start by just looking at their data, analyzing it and focusing on the various functional areas of the business where they can work towards achieving a business goal,” she says.

Beyond planning for sustainability, it is crucial to “execute on it,” Lim says. For most companies, that will mean making sure every person is held accountable for each part of the initiative. “It’s not something one person can do alone,” she adds. “It’s really a company effort.”

Learn how to embed sustainability across your supply chain

More from Business transformation

Accelerating AI & Innovation: the future of banking depends on core modernization

4 min read - In the rapidly evolving landscape of financial services, embracing AI and digital innovation at scale has become imperative for banks to stay competitive. With the power of AI and machine learning, financial institutions can leverage predictive analytics, anomaly detection and shared learning models to enhance system stability, detect fraud and drive superior customer-centric experiences. As we step into 2023, the focus has shifted to digital financial services, encompassing embedded finance, generative AI and the migration of super apps from China…

4 min read

Keep it simple: How to succeed at business transformation using behavioral economics

3 min read - Business leaders often think it’s impossible to predict the outcome of a transformation effort—whether employees will embrace a new process, for example, or how customers will react to a new service. They’re missing out on a secret of change management, says IBM Global Managing Partner Jesus Mantas: “You really can predict, for the most part, why people do what they do.” The answers, he says, come from ​​behavioral economics. In his role overseeing Business Transformation Services for​​ IBM Consulting, Mantas…

3 min read

How Red Hat OpenShift on AWS (ROSA) accelerates enterprise modernization initiatives on cloud, delivering business application innovation

3 min read - When it comes to driving large technology transformation on Cloud, leveraging existing investments, and optimizing open innovation within the larger ecosystem with a hybrid cloud platform, IBM Consulting™ offers several learnings to help organizations address the architecture and technology challenge.  Consider large financial services organization going through core banking modernization. The core banking application landscape involves multiple applications (both legacy and custom off-the-shelf) that are integrated and surfaced across multiple customer experiences, including mobile. The goal of modernizing such a large…

3 min read

IBM Consulting unveils Center of Excellence for generative AI

4 min read - IBM Consulting has established a Center of Excellence for generative AI. It stands alongside IBM Consulting’s existing global AI and Automation practice, which includes 21,000 data and AI consultants who have conducted over 40,000 enterprise client engagements. The Center of Excellence (CoE) already has more than 1,000 consultants with specialized generative AI expertise that are engaging with a global set of clients to drive productivity in IT operations and core business processes like HR or marketing, elevate their customer experiences…

4 min read