Sustainable Service-Strategic Perspectives

Sustainable Service-Strategic Perspectives

Guy Bullen (ToBeToAct, France)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8447-8.ch003
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Abstract

This chapter provides a strategic perspective on “Green ICT”, or “Sustainable Service”. It argues that strategy and sustainability are inextricably linked, and that a company that does not build sustainability into the heart of its strategy is a company that will not be sustainable in the unstable world of climate change and scarce resources. It proposes that ICT Service Providers not only become sustainable themselves, but also provide innovative services that can open up opportunities for companies in all industries to develop and implement their strategic sustainability agenda through the use of ICT. It defines five key aspects of a sustainable organisation: beyond reducing carbon emissions and recycling, a sustainable company, in both senses of the word, also needs to become antifragile, transparent and fundamentally social (rather than just socially conscious). For each aspect, it provides example of how this has, or could be done. The author concludes that unless business and governments react urgently and comprehensively in each of these five aspects, there may not be a planet to do business on in our children's lifetime.
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1. Introduction: “Going Green,” What Does It Really Mean?

Over the past few years, sustainability has been steadily moving up the political and business agenda. In 2009, Copenhagen saw the most senior planetary representation in history on the subject of sustainability up until then. In September 2014, over 120 heads of state participated in the UN Climate Summit at the UN Headquarters in New York. The intention is to come to a binding global agreement in 2015 in Paris. The issue of sustainability now regularly comes to the forefront of the news. In business, more and more companies are talking about their “green” strategies, partly because of investor pressure (given the growing trend of sustainable fund management), and partly because corporate customers are asking more and more tough questions of their suppliers with regards to their green credentials, and more and more consumers are making buying choices based on sustainability criteria.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are part of this trend; talking “green” has become an essential part of any Service Provider’s communication strategy. However, it is often expressed as a function of the strengths that a Service Provider wishes to put forward. Notwithstanding the good intentions that may lie behind such communications, sustainability is far too weighty a matter to be taken hostage to positive spin. It is important to stand back and look at sustainability from a wider perspective, broader than that of local company, industry or national agendas. This chapter will consider this wider perspective, and relate the wider issues it raises to the more focused business agenda of Service Providers.

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