3 Ways CIOs Can Target Sustainability Goals in Digital Transformations

It was once a sacrilege to even talk about tearing down Yankee Stadium, the house that Ruth built, and building a new and better version.

But that’s exactly what the Yankees did in 2009, joining scores of other owners and city governments to rebuild stadiums to improve the fan experience and increase revenue – and also targeting longer-term sustainability goals.

3 Ways CIOs Can Target Sustainability Goals in Digital Transformations

One of Yankee Stadium’s ecologically intelligent measures is the natural cooling and ventilation in the stadium’s great hall entryway, controlled by automation technologies designed to identify and eliminate wasted or inefficient energy use.

How digital transformation initiatives can impact ESG objectives

CIOs seek opportunities for investing in digital transformations by identifying ways to develop new digital services, improve customer experiences, develop analytics as competitive competencies, and establish a future of work. Enterprises in media, entertainment, and retail industries had to invest in digital capabilities early or face disruption from faster competitors or startups.

But businesses in building services, facility management, data centers, manufacturing, industrials, and utilities didn’t have the same urgencies. In a recent S&P Market Intelligence Report commissioned by Eaton, only 50% of executives from these industries said they are in the execution phase of digital transformation. The other 47% are in consideration, and 3% acknowledge they don’t have a digital strategy.

The race to industry 4.0 is just starting. Leaders looking to justify investments in smart buildings, advanced factories, and highly efficient data centers have a new way to show financial returns and align with strategic goals.

The intersection of digital transformation and the energy transition report shows that the digital transformation of over 40% of respondents includes addressing energy efficiency and supporting ESG business priorities. These companies hope to reduce electrical consumption from the grid, from 47% today to 35% in the future, while they increase renewable sources from 25 to 53 percent.   

CIOs can use these goals and benchmarks to justify investments and digital transformation initiatives. Let’s consider three questions IT leaders can explore where digital investments can yield cost savings, power transition, and other sustainability benefits.

How are you monitoring power consumption?

CIOs can start with the basics. IT operations have monitoring tools that track system utilization, alert on issues, capture costs, and report consumption trends.

What about the facility management team? Do they have an electrical power monitoring system (EPMS), and if they do, is it modernized to support today’s business needs?

The U.S. Energy Information shares energy consumption benchmarks by floorspace, building type, year constructed, U.S region, climate zone, and several other dimensions. While you can get gross consumption metrics from a utility bill, an EPMS provides more granular energy reporting and ways to reduce costs.

Monitoring consumption can lead to enabling more sustainable and reliable power plans. With the right tools and data, facility managers can compare actual utilization against benchmarks and seek improvements in the areas with the greatest opportunities.

The report shares other smart building use cases, including transitioning to renewable energy sources (40%) and developing in-building microgrids (33%).

How are you optimizing power consumption in your data centers?

According to one recent survey, 80% are optimizing hybrid cloud, and many organizations operate legacy data centers. Another survey reports that 54% of organizations are either utilizing or >planning to utilize edge computing technologies within 12 months, with another 30% having plans to evaluate edge deployments over the next 12 to 24 months.

The notion of green data centers isn’t new, and many IT teams have transitioned to lower energy-consuming infrastructure. There are opportunities for greater energy and cooling optimizations by becoming more data-driven and investing in a data center infrastructure management platform. This platform helps with capacity planning, environmental monitoring, and asset management.

Where will digital twins provide business agility?

How can a utility company double the amount of carbon-free electricity supplied to the grid to 80% by 2030?

How can a manufacturer create an immersive and on-demand training experience with a 70% higher long-term retention rate while improving efficiency by double-digit percentages?

The underlying systems delivering these outcomes include digital twins and AR/VR experiences. McKinsey reports that 70% of C-suite technology executives at large enterprises are exploring and investing in digital twins.

Any company connecting the physical and digital worlds can benefit from developing a digital twin, and they are used to simulate real-world conditions and model changes. One use case is modeling energy consumption and testing new heating and cooling scenarios in hospitals, schools, and office buildings.

A digital twin is a force-multiplying investment as it can pay off in multiple ways, including meeting power reduction, power transition, and other sustainability goals.

Whether deploying a digital twin, reducing power consumption, or shifting to sustainable energy sources, CIOs have growing opportunities to use sustainability and ESG objectives to drive digital transformation in their organizations.

For more information, download the latest report from Eaton Corporation and 451 Research on “The intersection of digital transformation and the energy transition.”

This blog is sponsored by Eaton Corporation.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Eaton.

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About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, a digital transformation influencer, and has over 900 articles published at InfoWorld, CIO.com, his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights @NYIke on Twitter, his Driving Digital Standup YouTube channel, or during the Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.