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Digital Industries Sustainability Roundtable Report
Published: 2 March 2023
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On March 1st BT’s Digital Industries Innovation Hub held its first Roundtable Forum event focusing on Sustainability, hosted by Sarwar Khan Head of BTs Global Digital Sustainability team. We had 8 industry leaders from a diverse range of companies from government through to consultancies, manufacturing and logistics.

The aim of this forum was to discuss the pressures organisations are increasingly facing around sustainability. One of the major pressures is from investors, who are assessing companies based on their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance. This is being driven by growing awareness as companies with strong ESG practices tend to be more resilient and have better long-term prospects.

To get the ball rolling we asked attendees ‘What’s keeping you awake at night’, some of the responses included:

• Large diverse estates making the overall sustainability challenge difficult.
• High levels of human involvement in operational processes where digital solutions could be utilised to help efficiency.
• Difficult conversations at board level – sustainability v ROI/profit.
• What opportunities are there to utilise/create alternative sources of energy.
• People skills gap – variance/lack of knowledge within workforce.

It was clear that irrespective of the industry there were common themes that kept cropping up in the main discussion segment, these included:

• Difficulties around data collection - collection of data is difficult and hugely varied in what different operational elements of an estate can give. There are also no standards for collection of data in order to create a baseline view of consumption across many factors.
• Cost being a big factor in decision making - companies are considering how they can utilise existing infrastructure for energy efficiency and how can they implement alternative sources of energy. Other factors that have an impact on cost include political will/ enforcement and consumer pull.
• Company’s long and short term Net-Zero ambitions - many companies are looking for quick wins by using existing infrastructure and replacing old equipment with newer more efficient equipment. Longer term ambitions looked at people behaviour – focusing the workforce on sustainability metrics.
• Alternate sustainable mindsets – is this a Jeavon’s Paradox, if we just focus on efficiency, we’ll drive more consumption. Can we also think more broadly than net-zero across the ESG estate i.e. Fair-trade, slave labour, helping Ukraine, helping Turkey.

We also heard from sustainability expert Prof Peter Garraghan, University of Lancaster, who will be joined by Louise Krug, BT, at our next DI Knowledge call speaking on the topic of EVs Everywhere: Creating a sustainable fleet for the future. If you would like to join this call please sign up to the hub and you will be sent an invitation.

The overall session was very informative and attendees feedback has been very positive. We will be looking to host similar events in the future on a range of topics the Hub will be focussing on.

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