Sustainability and digital innovation first sight do not have a lot in common, but to understand the connection between the two, we must first understand some basic definitions.
Sustainability focuses on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
The concept of sustainability is composed of three pillars: economic, environmental, and social (also known informally as profits, planet, and people).
Digital technology can help to streamline processes, increase efficiency, improve productivity, and save businesses money.
However, Digital innovation is the use of digital technology and applications to improve existing business processes and workforce efficiency, enhance customer experience, and launch new products or business models.
We as a humanity are standing at a crossroads where we still have a chance to balance the needs of our present generation with the needs of future generations.
For decades it was slowly becoming more and more obvious that the economy of unreasonable profits and irresponsible behavior of each individual is taking us into the future which is not sustainable anymore.
However, some facts which were in the past theoretically predicted by some of the world’s leading scientists were slowly being backed up also with actual numbers and they were not very promising.
Our unsustainable living started to show also economic, environmental, and social effects which could be this time clearly measured and linked to past activities.
At the same time all the future consequences of our past unsustainable or better unresponsible living became more obvious also to the future generations.
The first generations who will have to live in the changing world affected by our unsustainable past living are already with us and they are willing to take action.
% of people willing to pay more for eco-friendly products
| Gen Z
| Gen X
| Baby Boomers
And now finally we come to the question, how can digital technology help us to become more sustainable?
We, as human beings, are a species of innovators and explorers, capable of achieving remarkable things if we are willing.
From the first creation of fire to the invention of the wheel and computer, all of these tools were first created in our minds and then we managed to manifest this idea into reality.
As much as the fire was a tool that enabled us to cook our food and make us warm, the wheel creation enabled us to travel distances and the invention of the computer created a new tool for us, which is a tool for our mind to solve greater challenges that life is offering to us.
As much as our previous inventions enabled us to do the next step in our evolution, we are now at the crossroads where we can use digital technology for our destruction or for progress which can be achieved only if we apply sustainability to our everyday life.
To achieve a sustainable future, all of us have the responsibility to take action and with help of digital technology, this is easier and more achievable than ever before.
The technologies most commonly used in digital sustainability activities include distributed ledger technologies (blockchain), artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), Big Data Analytics, mobile technology and applications, sensors and other IOT devices, and other telemetry tools like satellites and drones.
However, although we already have many digital tools that actively promote sustainability, we must continue innovating in order to create new tools that can push us forward to our ideal of a fully sustainable future.