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How can CIOs stay on the path to net zero while also dealing with market volatilities, digital transformation, and rising inflationary pressures?

To explore how CIOs are collaborating to reduce emissions faster, we hosted the first in a series of C-level community-led events and unpacked the paradigm shifts that are underway. We began with a welcome and introduction from Phil Matthews, the Vice President and Sector Head of Retail at Cognizant. Phil began by setting out the scale of the challenge. As the world reaches eight billion people, and COP26 announces that the world is on track for a temperature rise of 2.4 degrees Celsius by 2030, the need to implement fundamental change has never been felt so acutely. 

We then heard from John Abel, Technical Director in the Office of the CTO at Google, who spoke about the environmental impact of the technology sector. John cited research that found global emissions from cloud computing exceeded commercial flights. Technologists must work across their businesses to ensure investment goes into technology products that emit less. Businesses that have fully embraced changes like these have reduced emissions and sharpen their competitiveness. John referenced organisations that had seen a 30 - 40% uptick in profitability by implementing more sustainable business practices. 

This brought us to the evening's guest speaker: Caroline Gorski, Chief Executive of the R² Factory at Rolls-Royce. Caroline began by drawing a comparison with climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Caroline remarked that the higher you climb, the more careful you have to be with scarce resources. Following a period of unabated digital transformation, senior leaders are now facing an inflection point as pressures mount from investors, customers, and the society at large. Caroline set out several ideas about how senior leaders can forge a route forward. 

1. Double down on diverse data

A problem as wide-ranging as this requires a rich and diverse array of data to be available to data teams. To gain it, businesses must engage with the dark data hidden within networks, people, and machines.

2. Optimise with machine learning

With an abundance of data, machine learning has the power to optimise for many more variables than humans. With the use of machine learning, sustainable product and supply chains can be identified and delivered faster. Caroline cited examples from clients who had followed these steps and seen a 40% reduction in carbon emissions. System-wide problems require system-wide solutions. Tech-led innovations must be underpinned by significant culture change. A shift from short-term thinking to long-term thinking is required. Habits of thought must also be confronted, with a move from competition to collaboration among business leaders being mission-critical. 

3. Limit the risks and share the tools

Mapping the short, medium, and long-term risks of inaction can be a powerful tool and one that should be modelled and shared across industries and organisations. 

4. Integrity is key to longevity

As investors, employees, and customers increasingly demand tangible evidence of change from the businesses they engage with, leaders must cultivate strategies for sustainable growth, not just tactics for quarter-to-quarter profitability, if they wish to survive into the future.

We held this event in partnership with Chief Discruptor and Google Cloud. 


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