Cognitive Enterprise

Why sustainable enterprises are the businesses of the future

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Author: Neil Cherry, Senior Partner, Cognitive Enterprise Lead, IBM Services

Sustainability. It’s the topic dominating conversations in boardrooms everywhere – as it should be. No longer is it seen as just a checkbox item relegated to a corporate social responsibility committee. More sustainable enterprises are emerging as businesses finally realise just how important it is to get this right.

At IBM, we’ve always believed environmental sustainability is critical to an organisation’s success. The data backs this up, with a recent study finding that sustainability is important to 80% of consumers. It is clear that a responsible environmental strategy must be on the corporate agenda in today’s society.

There’s never been a better time to embrace sustainability

The good news is, there has never been a better time to embrace sustainability. Emerging technologies such as AI, 5G, IoT, cloud and blockchain are accelerating progress and making it easier for businesses to undergo the digital transformation needed.

Reducing energy consumption is one area businesses can show environmental leadership. IBM Research Australia has embarked on a project called BEACH (Building Energy Analytics for Cooling and Heating), which aims to reduce energy consumption associated with operating heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems in buildings. BEACH is a cloud-based AI and data-driven framework that dynamically controls the operation of a building’s climate control system to drive down consumption and cost.

Early trials of BEACH have been promising, with energy consumption reduced by up to 15% in one case (or the equivalent of reducing emissions from burning 13,000 kilograms of coal). Best of all, this solution is low cost, easy to implement and will result in significant cost savings, repudiating the outdated notion that generating economic value and pursuing environmental sustainability are at odds with each other.

Optimising energy consumption

While businesses embracing digital transformation in the name of sustainability is an important step, there is an unexpected consequence. This increased demand for data and computing power has driven growth in data centres, which consume significant amounts of electricity and may potentially even offset any positive gains made. Our research teams are working hard to quantify, model and reduce the carbon footprint of workloads in data centres. By applying AI-based forecasting and advanced modelling, we aim to optimise energy consumption in data centres and help our society continue its transition towards a renewables-powered economy.

The rise of the sustainable enterprise is the outcome of an increasingly socially conscious society that demands more from those in positions of influence. It is important we do our bit to continue this conversation, and we encourage you to join us in this mission. Download the IBV The rise of the sustainable enterprise report now to learn how you can help.



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