How does CSR tie into digital transformation?

Digital transformation is a non-negotiable in a data-driven digital world. Everybody is doing it. The next evolution, and one identified by Atos, is sustainable digital transformation.

Johannesburg, 09 Apr 2019
Read time 3min 50sec
Yannick Tabanon, CEO, Atos SA.
Yannick Tabanon, CEO, Atos SA.

Companies are already well along their digital transformation journeys. They're patting themselves on the back for having digitised and digitalised their data and processes. However, they're going to come under increasing scrutiny for just how sustainable they're being in the process, if you'll pardon the wordplay.

The United Nations (UN) has set 17 sustainable development goals for member countries, the private and public sector, and digital transformation can play a key role in helping businesses meet the majority of these, says Yannick Tabanon, CEO of Atos SA.

Areas identified by the UN that digital transformation can impact positively include:

* Good health and well-being;
* Quality education;
* Diversity;
* Decent work and economic growth;
* Industry;
* Innovation and infrastructure;
* Responsible consumption and production;
* Climate action and peace; and
* Justice and strong institutions.

Corporate responsibility, or CSR, used to be a box to tick that required handing over a certain amount of money to a charity or even visiting a worthy cause on Mandela Day. However, this is no longer regarded as sufficient, and today's organisations have to demonstrate sustainability across their businesses and processes if they want to be considered fully transformed.

But first, what is sustainable digital transformation? Tabanon explains: "It's all about making positive changes in business and society by using the most advanced technologies to enable a more ethical and environmentally friendly future."

"All technology is no longer created equal. Businesses are looking towards their suppliers to demonstrate ethics, transparency and security in their own business, as well as in the solutions they provide. They also need to be able to assist their customers achieve their digital transformation objectives in a responsible and sustainable manner.

"Businesses need to make a long-term commitment to combining technology and innovation in ways that promote more sustainable societies. For example, our dedication to CSR, data protection, human capital development and well-being ensures that we work with our clients on their digital transformation in an efficient and sustainable way, with an objective of long-term shared value creation."

Digital transformation is enabling companies to harness data so that smart business decisions can be made on the fly. In order to do this, companies are having to adopt new technologies as and when they become available. But, as we've already pointed out, there's increasing pressure to do so in a sustainable manner and to partner companies that are themselves sustainable.

Tabanon says: "If you consider that 90% of the world's data was created in the past two years, the pace of change required within companies just to stay abreast of all of that data becomes apparent. Data analytics has to become routine. It's driving new innovation and improving customer service. Sector or size of business become irrelevant... it's all about the data. But business success has to go hand-in-hand with its progress in corporate responsibility and sustainability."

There are four key areas in which companies face digital transformation challenges:

* People: your business must be regarded as a great company to work for and with. There's no point implementing digital transformation unless you empower your staff with the necessary skills. Digitalisation is changing how people work together and interact.
* Business and innovation: collaborative innovation, customer satisfaction, security and data protection are all underpinned by digital transformation. Digitalisation is a powerful enabler of sustainable development for the future.
* Ethics and governance: businesses must comply with their own ethics code as well as that of their suppliers, as well as with legislation. This ensures the future sustainability of the business as a trusted partner.
* Environment: businesses need to target an increasingly environmentally friendly global footprint, considering the business's carbon emissions and energy consumption on the environment and operating in a safe and sustainable manner. The ongoing monitoring of environment-related risks is key.

Businesses require data-driven solutions to help them meet each of these challenges head-on. Tabanon says: "The whole ethos speaks to creating value as well as sharing value, both within and without the business."

Download the Atos Corporate Responsibility Report here to read more.

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