Organisations Must Up The Ante To Improve Sustainability  

7 January 2008:

A research by BT finds that only three per cent of UK customers believe that businesses are fully open and honest about what they are really doing to work in a sustainable manner, while 33 per cent actually believe they exaggerate their actions in order to gain consumer favour.

New research from BT has uncovered a significant mis-match between the perceived role of IT and communications technology in making business operations more sustainable, and the strategic planning undertaken to make it a reality. Ninety per cent of organisations from the public and private sector believe technology is part of the solution to reduce their impact on the environment (31 per cent say an important part). However, nearly half (41 per cent) have no plans or targets for achieving improvements, with one in five admitting that they are not using technology effectively to improve their sustainability.


Looking at different industries, the utilities sector is the most likely to have a plan for exploiting IT and communications to improve sustainability (66 per cent), followed by transport (58 per cent), retail and media and leisure (52 per cent), finance and the public sectors (51 per cent) and construction (44 per cent).

According to the BT study, a third of UK organisations across the range of sectors say the need to improve sustainability will be the single biggest driver of IT investment over the next five years. This was cited as more important than implementing new technologies such as unified communications (25 per cent), taking advantage of converged networks (14 per cent) or improving security (11 per cent).

But whilst the majority of organisations recognise the benefits of operating more sustainably in terms of the bottom line, customer attitudes and overall reputation, 35 per cent consider it purely a tick box exercise to aid regulation compliance. Financial services businesses are most likely to view sustainability as a compliance issue (41 per cent) and utilities the least likely (16 per cent).

According to Tim Smart, CEO, BT Global Services, UK, “The findings suggest that companies may be paying lip service to the issue of sustainability. Operating sustainably is important – and technology has a role to play in making it happen. However the lack of forethought given to how to exploit this opportunity means companies may fail to see real benefit from the efforts they are making and critically a return on their investments.”

Tim Smart added, “There is no escaping the fact that sustainability records are being called into question by stakeholders before purchases, partnerships or commitments are made. But technology shouldn’t be used just to achieve quick wins on the CSR ladder; networked IT services have a fundamental role to play in enabling more sustainable practices that bring opportunities and benefits in terms of competitiveness, productivity and even reduced costs.”

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