Moving data and its management into the cloud helps companies reduce their own emissions by lessening the reliance on first-party hardware, energy and paper. In turn, this means retailers can also expect to see increased efficiencies and reduced costs.
To ensure the impact of even these activities are kept to a minimum, Microsoft’s Emissions Impact Dashboard gives companies visibility into the emissions associated with the services they use. As a retailer’s business grows, the dashboard can also help the organisation plan for the future by estimating the value of additional emissions savings when more applications and services are moved to the cloud.
Importantly, clients can rest assured that Microsoft is not just providing these useful services, it’s also acting as an ally. In 2020, the company made a series of commitments relating to carbon, biodiversity, water and waste. It plans to be carbon negative, replenish more water than it uses and generate zero waste in its direct operations, products and packaging.
Musidora Jorgensen, Chief Sustainability Officer for Microsoft UK, said: “For the world to achieve Net Zero targets, every organisation must have a clear understanding of how every aspect of their operation affects the planet. Business leaders must set sustainability targets and expectations for every stage of their products’ life cycles – from collecting raw materials, through manufacturing, to delivery. That workstream starts with measuring the data throughout your supply chains.
Knowing how to protect the environment and society is only possible if we can understand how our activities are, and have been, impacting it. That enables us to predict what might happen in the future and offer solutions to making things better.
Again, data is key and Microsoft’s Planetary Computer offers a solution. The open-source application connects “trillions of data points about the environment” submitted by thousands of stakeholders worldwide to help predict possible environmental events. The “citizen science” project also gathers data from individuals around the world using sea, land and space measurements, to create a holistic impression of the state of the environment.
This comprehensive and accessible library of international ecosystem information can help people make better-informed sustainability decisions.
For retailers it’s invaluable for identifying areas of ecological fragility to help guide their Scope 3 procurement and investment decisions. Being able to do that remotely means they needn’t generate additional emissions by travelling to potential business or supplier sites.
Locking in sustainability policies now is essential for retailers. But they need to safeguard their initiatives into the future by baking them into their corporate culture. That’s all the more important given that demand for sustainable practices is greater among younger consumers and employees.
“Transformational change is often driven by generational change,” said Rezvan at Microsoft.
Inculcating that into corporate purpose is gaining traction slowly, however. The Microsoft-Dr Chris Brauer survey found that only 15% of staff had been given any sustainability training.
Again, better data management offers a solution. Easy access to accurate information can empower employees to identify where improvements can be made. It also provides the tools to upskill staff so they are confident in using the technology and working with the data on a daily basis.
In turn, tech-adept employees can act as ambassadors for sustainable business practices encouraging suppliers and partners further down the supply chain to adopt them.