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Meeting sustainability ambitions with Power Platform and Generative AI

  • Posted on August 3, 2023
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes
sustainability with generative AI

Over the last 10 years, sustainability has evolved from being ‘nice to have’ to become a critical factor for competitive advantage. According to Accenture, 94% of top CEOs cite sustainability as important or very important to the future success of their businesses. Consumers are increasingly demanding low carbon and socially responsible products and services, backed up by tangible, authentic actions from businesses. Global regulation is tightening, and organizations are challenged to stay compliant across multiple jurisdictions. Many have already taken action to set challenging targets, and now the rubber really hits the road as they work out how to meet them.

It’s no surprise that technology has become a critical enabler of sustainability. In our cross industry research, 63% of executives acknowledged the vital role of digital technology in achieving their sustainability objectives. The right technologies can help companies measure and manage sustainability performance, identify areas for improvement, and provide visibility and transparency on ESG impact.

Yet my conversations at the recent 2023 EPPC conference highlighted that clients are only just beginning to see what’s possible with Generative AI in relation to sustainability. My demo covered some ideas on how Generative AI, Microsoft Power Platform and Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability could help, showing how a sustainability report and action plan can be quickly and easily created. We combined internal data with external sources including a legislation bibliography, and a scientific papers library. By grounding the model in diverse data sets and sources, clients can expect a more accurate report and a contextual action plan. Attendees were amazed at the capability and extensibility possibilities.

The Power Platform is the foundation for all thing sustainability; essentially a blank canvas to build custom sustainability solutions, whether that’s Power BI reports and insights, automated workflows or specific Power Apps, clients can gain real time visibility into the sustainability metrics that matter. We also work with clients to optimise and push the extensibility of existing tools like the Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability and Microsoft Sustainability Manager (MSM), by developing Power Platform based innovations so our clients gain data-driven insights, custom apps, workflows, reports, and dashboards that sit on top of MSM’s measure, manage, and report capability. If the power platform is the foundation for sustainability, when you add Generative AI to the equation, you can really power ahead with taking action.

By harnessing these technologies organizations can demonstrate the impact of their sustainability initiatives, distancing themselves from any accusations of greenwashing and doing wonders for corporate reputation. Our work with top Spanish retailer, El Corte Inglés, is a great example. We created a pioneering Microsoft Power App to automate processes in reusing, recycling and recovering waste. They have successfully recycled 100,000 tons of waste and turned it into a revenue stream. A true circular economy solution, that resonates with environmentally conscious consumers, aligns with compliance requirements and helps the bottom line. In fact, the European Commission sees the use case as an example of how to integrate sustainability into business management.

Of course, sustainability isn't just about waste management. In fact, we have repeatable use cases across Habitat Protection, Energy Management, Water Management, Climate Risk, ESG Data and Visibility, Fleet Decarbonisation, Carbon Accounting and Circular Economy as well.

For example, SSE Renewables (SSER) is embracing technology on a mission to achieve net-zero carbon emissions. One way we’ve helped uses innovative AI models to recognize images, structures and objects to discern wildlife species so they can be prioritized and protected. Based on SSER’s regulatory requirements, the platform can be adapted for any species or environment in the future.

We’ve recently given Volvo Cars our “Do what matters” award, which recognizes initiatives that leverage technology for sustainability improvements, as a result of our jointly developed environment impact measurement tool that’s being used globally as part of their carbon neutral by 2040 mission. The tool enables data to be gathered from 200 non-manufacturing facilities, 2,500 retailers and Volvo’s manufacturing facilities. By delivering reporting across heating systems and wastewater, data-driven decisions can be made to drive down the environmental impact and carbon footprint.

And we know that compliance is an issue that keeps Chief Sustainability Officers up at night. They need to be ahead of the regulation, so we’re looking forward to working with Project ESG Lake for managing and preparing data for analysis and the Microsoft Purview Compliance Manager CSRD template which will enable companies to report and feedback on performance against compliance requirements. By harnessing relevant ESG data, unlocking data intelligence and enriching data for advanced analytics, organizations can turn insights into action to further improve sustainability performance.

We understand that everyone is at a different point in their sustainability journey. Our approach has the flexibility to help wherever you are on your journey, leveraging the Power Platform and its Generative AI capabilities to deliver the change you need, quickly. When thinking about AI and your sustainability plans, there are two timescales to consider. First the technology timeline - how can generative AI help you implement an MVP rapidly for quick wins against your sustainability goals? Second, your strategic roadmap that articulates your sustainability ambition, goals, KPIs and use cases. Both evolve continuously and must be synchronised but like sustainability itself this is a process, not an endpoint.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you meet your sustainability goals.

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