In brief

In brief

  • For high tech players, sustainability imperative provides an opening to create new products and services and establish a leadership position.
  • They need to develop sustainable products and services to help customers in their sustainability transformations.
  • For their sustainability targets and a better balance sheet, they must focus on the shift to green cloud, smart buildings, and smart manufacturing.


Across the globe, the dialogue around sustainability is changing rapidly. Companies are now being held accountable not just by regulators but by investors, customers and even prospective employees.

For high tech players, the sustainability imperative provides a unique opening to create new products and services to help customers in their own journeys and to establish a leadership position in an emerging market.

With the value of global sustainability assets rising above $220 billion, it is increasingly evident that investing in sustainability is not just morally responsible but financially savvy.

Industry context

High tech companies are innovators, continuously creating the next generation of products and services to improve the lives of their customers. New technologies unlock new use cases for the smart, connected devices, exponentially increasing the uptake of electronics products and the supporting infrastructure. High tech players need to address the issues of massive surge in energy consumption, water usage and CO2 emissions, and develop sustainable products and services to help customers in their own sustainability transformations. The transition to greater sustainability presents a tremendous revenue-generating opportunity for the companies that act quickly to both develop and adopt greener technologies.

Emerging technologies and their sustainability impacts

In this new technology landscape, high tech companies are experiencing unprecedented levels of demand for their products. While this bolsters the balance sheets, it also unfortunately exacerbates the sustainability issue.

5G

Improvements in speed, connection density and latency will pave the way for new use cases, resulting in a steep rise in global energy usage.

IoT

Energy consumed by the estimated 50 billion new IoT devices is huge. Also materials used like tungsten and cobalt are difficult to recycle or reclaim.

Blockchain & bitcoin

New technologies like blockchain & bitcoin leverage semiconductor chips and the manufacturing of these chips has an enormous carbon footprint.

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The journey to zero net carbon

Let no crisis go to waste

The environmental crisis is global in nature. Companies can look to COVID-19 for the essential techniques for tackling a crisis of this magnitude.

Bridging the gap

Many high tech companies have made sustainability goals. Achieving these objectives is not easy, few COOs can give an accounting of their ESG impact.

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Any project needs to begin with a comprehensive sustainability analysis, with as broad a scope as possible. Microsoft has estimated that 90% of the impact a company has is either upstream or downstream of its core operations.

Actions for high tech to enable the transition

To get ahead of the curve on sustainability, high tech players need to focus their efforts on three key areas to not just meet but also exceed their sustainability targets while building a better balance sheet:

1. Shift to green cloud

The transition to the cloud is not enough to meet sustainability goals due to the exponential growth of cloud adoption among consumers. Green cloud is focused on optimizing the energy usage and efficiency of cloud resources. To make cloud workloads greener, customers should shift workloads to run in geographic regions with more renewable energy. There should also be a focus on choosing the most effective coding language to minimize inefficiencies, as well as configuring applications to run specifically on the cloud.



2. Smart buildings

Presently, the total energy consumption of residential and commercial buildings accounts for about 40% of total U.S. energy consumption or 20% of global consumption. To meet greenhouse gas reduction targets such as those laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement, energy-squandering facilities around the world will need to be transformed into high-efficiency smart buildings, that reduces energy consumption, optimizes space utilization and minimizes the environmental impact. High tech innovators can develop smart building products and services to sell into this market while also testing them and using them to achieve their own sustainability goals.



3. Smart manufacturing

Semiconductor fabrication is a complex, exacting, highly automated process that patterns dozens or even hundreds of devices on a single wafer. As a result, even small process issues can decimate yield and unscheduled downtime can cost millions of dollars per hour. To this, add the sustainability issues already mentioned, as well as the use of expensive and often toxic materials and it’s clear that semiconductor processing presents a target of opportunity for intelligent manufacturing techniques.

Analytics for process control

Companies can analyze data to implement predictive maintenance programs, identifying developing defects in advance to prevent unscheduled downtime.

Digital twins

Digital twin technology enables semiconductor companies to optimize throughput, yield and cost with a fast ramp time while minimizing inefficiencies.

Circular design

By designing for repair and longevity, high tech manufacturers can save money and create new revenue streams while reducing their carbon footprints.

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Conclusion

High tech companies are in a time of challenge and opportunity. It’s important to note that they are not on their own in this effort, however. An unprecedented amount of public financing is available to accelerate transformation programs in all industries for which sustainability and innovation are essential.

Sustainability requirements are changing—can your strategy keep up? Connect with us to build your new green cloud and technology businesses, and to realize the opportunity in sustainability.

Vikrant Viniak

Managing Director - Accenture Strategy


Geoffrey Hills

Senior Manager – Strategy & Consulting


Troy White

Senior Manager – Strategy & Consulting

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