How to Convert Good Intentions to Real Sustainability – Adopt YGWYM!

Share this post:

There’s an old expression that says “You Get What You Measure” (YGWYM).  This may be a little clichéd, but it generally holds true within organizations and processes. It’s our nature as humans to shoot for the objectives that have been set, and it is human nature to pay particular attention to the actionable metrics which are being measured and reported on.

Many companies and organizations today have committed themselves – internally as well as expressed publicly – to adopt a sustainability strategy in a heartfelt desire to ‘do good for the World’, and to meet their stakeholders’ (customers, investors, policy makers, local society) demands for purpose, societal responsibility and transparency.

They are seeking enhanced ways to measure their progress towards their sustainability goals, being it carbon accounting with science-based targets, selected UN Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs), Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) criteria, EU Product Environmental Footprint  or other. Especially Carbon and other GHG emissions, that threatens to accelerate climate change, have caught most companies’ attentions. Climate change is a threat multiplier, which means that failure to address climate change also increases the likelihood and impact of other risks – such as extreme weather, water and food crises, poverty, demographic unrest etc.

In order to address climate change, corporations need a clear, transparent and effective way to set targets, measure and understand their carbon emissions across their value chain. A growing number of businesses even go as far as to setting a net zero target, with the aim of enhancing corporate responsibility, credibility, increase resilience and ultimately enhance their  brand reputation by using sustainability as a driver to innovation and creation of competitive advantage.

But with so many goals, schemes and initiatives in existence and pressure from the stakeholders to show sustainability results, relatively small sustainability teams are seeking ways to enhance their data and reporting capabilities at the same time they face tedious data input, slow data transfers and often onerous data mapping resulting in:

  • Large amount of manual data input during data collection
  • Very time-consuming tasks to transfer or convert data between various systems
  • Lack of transparency on the data calculation and reporting process
  • Loss of, or lack of, clarity on data provenance, causing auditing challenges
  • Lack of data mapping to specific sites, brands or geographies

All this makes it very challenging to manage performance across the value chain.

We can help customers solve these challenges with the IBM Sustainability & Net Zero Platform.

As a digital insights platform, it combines data and analytics in support of sustainability performance management. It can ingest, calculate, model and visualize data related to a wide variety of sustainability initiatives, from carbon and GHG accounting, water reduction targets to sustainable sourcing of raw materials. Every single organization’s sustainability accounting consist of data from many sources, both from inside the organization, but also  new types of data.  Transaction and sensor data combined with external data sources like  geospatial/temporal data  like weather data,  satellite images and geophysics, (like IBM PAIRS), blended with science based calculation standards etc. can be used to calculate the outcomes of the company’s short and long term sustainability initiatives.

The IBM platform is a managed service driven, hybrid cloud, data solution, providing secure, compliant, governed and trusted data & AI capabilities at scale. This ensures that the platform can evolve dynamically, data can be exchanged in a secure and automated way, and results can be visualized at all levels – from employee to board level, and externally – with the granularity required.

DID YOU READ: Digitization: A climate sinner or savior?

We bring systems & data together, providing a holistic platform solution for our clients.

It has a technology agnostic architecture, allowing you to pick and choose the right underlying technology based on your legacy, needs and outcomes. Furthermore, it has an integrated information governance framework and modular architecture, allowing you to start small and scale fast.

The aim for the platform is:

  • A user-friendly and visually appealing sustainability & net zero solution that shows performance across the business for prioritized carbon emissions metrics
  • Showing externally set targets that matter to businesses on their net zero journey, enabling them to do regulatory reporting on their progress and alignment against their externally committed targets
  • Showing key performance indicators that enable internal performance management and identification of actions that accelerate progress toward their corporate net zero targets and journey
  • The ability to show breakdowns of emissions across geos, business units, asset types in absolute and normalized terms, to identify hotspots and areas for improvement across business areas
  • Transparency in calculations and metrics driving an externally auditable methodology and change log
  • Feed into a Sustainability, Climate and Transition Platform roadmap that considers ESG performance, economic impact and cost benefit analyses, climate risk analytics and the full end-to-end value chain

(A snapshot of a dashboard from IBM Sustainability & Net Zero platform – data are fictitious)

The platform is currently in a ‘beta-version’, and we are inviting our customers in different industries to join us in a co-development, agile project to adapt and test it to their specific needs. 

We have developed an approach to quickly understand your as-is situation and set up the technical sustainability and Net Zero platform to support your organization’s sustainability strategy.  

Our approach addresses key success drivers such as stakeholder engagement, technical and organizational implementation as well as establishing a governance framework, as needed.

Even the best intentions aren’t worth much if they are not being transformed into actions (you know the saying…. “Thanks killed the blacksmith’s cat”).  And to make sure – that your sustainability ambitions survive and thrive, you must set bold, clear and measurable targets  – measure your outcomes consistently and take action – this way YGWYM!

If you would like to know more about IBM Sustainability and NetZero Platform and how IBM Services can help you define and implement your roadmap to sustainability, please feel free to contact one of us at or

Research & Innovation Executive, IBM Research - IBM Watson

Anja Juhl Jensen

Cognitive Business Architect, IBM

More stories

Data Democratization – making data available

One of the trending buzzwords of the last years in my world is “Data Democratization”. Which this year seems to have been complemented by “Data Fabric” and “Data Mesh”. What it is really about the long-standing challenge of making data available. It is another one of these topics that often gets the reaction “How hard […]

Continue reading

How to act in the new regulation of financial sector

Our world is changing. Because of that regulators around the world are taking ambitious steps to improve the sustainability of the financial sector and guide capital towards sustainable economic activity. Especially in EU we are seeing a high level of regulations. These regulatory interventions present complex and sensitive legal challenges for financial sector firms, which […]

Continue reading

Private cloud or public cloud? New server technology offers more choice

In September, we launched the new IBM Power E1080 high-end server, for corporate use based on the  new Power10 architecture, the Power E1080. The server can – among many other things – handle a large number of applications and workloads securely, at scale and with highest availability. Going into the spring of 2022, we will […]

Continue reading