Why sustainable software matters more than you realize

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Sera Filiz

There’s no doubt about it – “sustainability” is the topic on everyone’s minds right now. It’s hard to define, but it’s also more than just a buzzword. Sustainability generally speaks to the idea that goods and services should be manufactured and utilized in ways that do not use irreplaceable natural resources and avoid causing damage to the environment.

It’s undeniable that sustainability is important. In fact, 90% of executives believe exactly this. The implementation of sustainable strategies, however, is still a challenge. Only 60% of organizations have an articulated strategy in place.

Yet, plenty of factors demand that your organization enact a strategy to implement environmental, social, and governance (ESG) outcomes as quickly as possible. Gartner Research found that 85% of institutional investors were motivated by ESG factors in their 2020 investments, and 91% of banks monitor the longer term ESG performance of their investments.

But it’s not just investors applying pressure. Consumers are also broadly demanding accountability and are paying more attention to how they spend their money, with ethical responsibility in mind. Over 70% of Gen-Z consumers have said they are actually willing to spend more money on products that have been made sustainably. With the changing expectations of the younger generations continuously on the rise, writing sustainability into corporate strategy seems non-negotiable.

We’ve heard quite a bit about reducing the material impacts of corporations via the consumption of natural materials, but the conversation around software has been less robust.

Software is without a doubt the foundation of almost all intelligent solutions created to support the environment. We all know how crucial it is in campaigns to stop deforestation and cut emissions. However, software contributes significantly to a rapidly-expanding carbon footprint. In fact, many of the environmental issues that newer, widespread digital technologies are meant to address are actually getting worse.

Despite being an often-overlooked step, developing a sustainable technology plan for your organization is critical. Companies can make software an integral component of their sustainability initiatives by including green practices and goals as evaluation criteria for CIO performance reviews and evaluating software performance based on energy efficiency, in addition to more conventional metrics such as functionality, security, scalability, and accessibility.

Making sure you’re working with the right hardware and vendors, including choosing those with transparent practices, and optimizing your IT resources ensures you’re getting the best outcome with the least possible waste. In turn, providing transparent information on your own supply chain and fair practices reaffirms to your customers your commitments to corporate social responsibility, in addition to minimizing your risk from an investment standpoint.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, but incorporating software into your organization’s sustainability plan today is a great first step. It’s also an important nod to the future of our world – which we all share accountability for.  

Stage 1: Fragmented: Multiple Channels

You’re a digital dinosaur!

You have a beautiful website, but with fragmented digital experiences, you run the risk of extinction.

It’s time to evolve.

Your audiences want a seamless experience, no matter what's happening behind the scenes. When your experience is different or difficult, it’s important to start with the basics, such as cultivating a holistic approach to online digital experiences. Realign your teams, platforms, processes, goals, and metrics around a comprehensive view of the online experience. Focus on the end-to-end customer journey cutting across channels, desktop and mobile.

separate channels animation circle t-rex dinosaur square
Stage 2: Integrated: Multiple channels

You’re a fish!

Signs of exciting life are starting to form. Your DX is responsive and adaptive but it’s not quite personalized yet.

Keep swimming!

The integration of your brand content across every touchpoint (website, online store, social media, emails, apps, point of sale) creates immersive experiences. These flagship sites combine content-rich brand experiences with immediate conversion capabilities. Business teams and marketing are closely aligned. However, while the digital experience is responsive and adaptive, it’s not yet personalized.

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Stage 3: Instant: Global expansion

You’re a crocodile!

You’re taking it global. Speed and scalability are key and just like a crocodile, you’re fast…but you’re clumsy.

Oh snap!

In this stage, the online digital experience becomes completely dynamic. You need content that is global, yet relevant, with plenty of local insights: Who is the user? Are they using a mobile phone? Is it raining where they are? Is it snowing? If it is, maybe they need warm, waterproof boots. All of this contextualized information creates a better user experience. With one global orchestration, you’re able to adapt everything, in whatever country or language you choose – while keeping turnaround times low. So keep evolving.

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Stage 4: Dynamic: Real time personalization

You’re a lion!

You’re reaching more customers in more countries and languages than ever before, and now you’re finally hunting and collecting info with precision.

But you can do more to keep your brand roaring!

As you graduate to the Instant level, you’re able to rapidly update everything - not just in one language and for one country, but in 20 languages and for 100 countries. Speed and scalability are key, driven by the need to roll out global campaigns in all languages and all touchpoints and make updates in minutes or hours, not weeks. But there’s still more to do to reach nirvana.

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Stage 5: Immersive: Elevated experiences

You’re Captain Content!

You’ve done it! You have opposable thumbs AND you’re saving the world with your seamless, elevated customer experiences.

You're a superhero in the digital space.

Your digital world and your physical world are blending together in the most complementary way possible. When shoppers visit your store, they’ll be greeted with their pre-selected products. Language changes dynamically depending on country of origin – it's like the whole store was set up just for your one specific customer.

In this final stage, your customer experience is truly immersive and superior, and your flagship store merges your physical and digital world into one, with a truly personalized individual experience.

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