Sustainability is hard. Which makes doing what matters more essential

  • Posted on August 17, 2023
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes

While everybody is talking about sustainability, there are few organizations that have cracked the code on how to do it right. Research done by Avanade & Quartz shows that 93 percent of organizations are struggling with their sustainability goals. So, if you’re feeling behind in your ability to address sustainability, you’re far from alone.

For governments, the challenges around sustainability are especially complicated. Agencies in all parts of public service are called upon to respond to the incremental or catastrophic effects of climate change. That could mean protecting the vulnerable during unprecedented heat waves or recovering from a natural disaster. Adding an internal sustainability focus on top of response may seem daunting, especially given competing priorities and limited budgets.

Yet, pursuing more sustainable operations is imperative for agencies and the citizens and communities they serve. It’s a big part of doing what matters as a responsible organization. And, the good news is, sustainability can often be a happy byproduct of other efforts to improve services and operations. The key is investing in digital.

Seizing the digital advantage
Seventy-five percent of CEOs say that they are investing in digital to address sustainability challenges. What does one have to do with the other? Investing in digital brings more agility, insight and security to public sector organizations across a variety of functions:

  • Journey to cloud—you can accelerate your processing, data collection, and citizen-facing services.
  • Data and information management—more data and more sophisticated tools for analyzing to drive key decisions and actions.
  • Legacy modernization—chances are good that there is some technology taking up space—and consuming energy—that you can sunset or replace with something more efficient.
  • Wireless value realization—wireless capabilities are extending beyond communication, as evidenced by our work with the state of Washington as part of its blue economy.
  • AI with trust, and risk and security management—AI has tremendous potential for improving citizen services and taking on tasks that can free people’s time up for more creative or interpersonal work.

Digital is the key to having more knowledge at your disposal as well as being able to act on that knowledge more quickly with shorter development cycles times and the ability to bring a minimum viable product (MVP) and innovate continuously. There is even a bonus benefit of reducing one’s carbon footprint with a move to the cloud. Green cloud platforms can reduce carbon emissions by more than 84% and energy usage by 65%. Cloud migrations can save money, too, an estimated 30% to 40% total cost of ownership savings. (Source: Accenture)

Small steps count
As a leader of a government function of a public service agency, you may be wondering why you might succeed in your sustainability objectives when so many others are struggling. The organizations we see as succeeding are usually the ones who start small. Not to lower the bar, but to manage expectations around the pace of change, and to allow for small victories to build support and momentum around additional efforts. With that in mind, we offer three steps to start the journey toward sustainability.

  1. Develop a view into what is achievable in the short, medium and long terms, making sure each objective is aligned to your department’s strategies.
  2. Convert your ideas into an action plan to more readily access funding.
  3. Use innovation cycles to take action and learn and adjust as you go.
  4. Register for a complimentary Sustainability Solutions workshop with Avanade. The form to register is at the bottom of this page: Sustainability Solutions | Avanade.

It has taken centuries for humans to make the impact on the planet that now demands a response. We will not innovate our way to a sustainable planet overnight. But every tiny step propels us in the right direction and together, we hope to create a genuine human impact that improves our ability to thrive on this planet.

To learn more about our thinking on sustainability for governments and public services, take a look at our recent point of view, Sea Change: Data and AI are setting a new high-water mark for governments responding to sustainability.

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