Rodrigo Castelo, the VP for Middle East and Africa at OutSystems, says the road to energy transition is inundated with several hurdles
How does technology contribute to sustainability?
Technology is a great enabler. Throughout history, technology has helped humanity perform what was once unthinkable. It has changed the way we communicate, learn, and think. Now that the world has realised that it cannot function the way it has been for centuries now, without a care of the consequences for our demand and consumption, we turn to technology to come up with a solution to help sustain humankind on this planet for millennia more to come.
Technology has tremendous power to change our lives and promote a more equal and sustainable world. At OutSystems, we’re on a mission to give every organisation the power to innovate through software and being able to provide a platform and solutions that can work towards such goals.
What sort of sustainability efforts does your company practice?
At OutSystems, we believe in leading by example and have implemented several sustainability practices such as recycling paper, plastic, glass, and coffee capsules across our offices. Additionally, with the help of OutSystems’ high-performance low code application platform, we have been an instrumental partner in helping make our customers sustainable or drum up ideas that can impact the world. With Apps for Good Portugal, an international technological educational program, students and teachers were empowered through the support and mentorship of a network of volunteer experts from several companies to help them build solutions to problems related to sustainability.
Closer to home, we also partnered with a number of organisations that digitised their services and eliminated the need to create unnecessary paperwork and waste. One project of note was the Smart Petitions app developed in line with the vision of Dubai Courts, an award-winning venture that allowed users to submit and track petitions digitally. Apart from the sustainable benefits, it also allowed the court to efficiently pass judgment electronically.
Do we need to look at sustainability beyond the use of “green energy”?
Yes, the energy transition to cleaner renewable sources will definitely make a significant impact on reaching sustainability goals. Sadly, the road to energy transition is inundated with several hurdles. Therefore, we need to look beyond it for solutions. Improving efficiency is the fastest and easiest route to reducing the carbon footprint, and the digitalisation of processes has a major role to play in it. It is far more convenient for organisations to implement initiatives that incrementally help them reach their target.
How can companies reduce their carbon footprint? Are there local or regional initiatives that encourage companies to adopt practices?
There are several initiatives that companies can employ to reduce their carbon footprint. By embracing the cloud, organisations can work, collaborate, and perform remotely, reducing the organisation’s energy needs and reducing the employee’s commute.
On a national level, the UAE has committed to several initiatives, all with the single aim of hitting its sustainable development goals (SDGs). Initiatives such as the UAE Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative and the Environment Vision 2030.
What challenges do companies face today in their journey toward net zero and how can technology help solve those issues?
Reaching Net Zero isn’t an easy task, it needs coordination and mobilisation of the entire organisation and not just the headquarters or sites. There are several other challenges faced by organisations. Technology can help organisations move towards this target bit by bit.
Decarbonisation technology, such as carbon capture and electrification, will help reduce the output of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. But as mentioned earlier, technology that supports efficiency will have the greatest impact on decarbonisation. Take, for example, ISB Global improved the efficiency of its waste management customers’ operations by making better use of the data from IoT devices by using a bin sensor app developed on OutSystems.
What factors can help companies advance toward their sustainability goals?
The first need for companies is to know what their footprint is, where the waste is, identify major impacts, and then implement quick wins. If you don’t know where waste is, then you cannot optimize it. I suspect pareto principle will apply, so most likely there are 20% of areas, topics, or patterns, that justify 80% of the footprint or waste. Once you know what those are, it is then easy via technology and human ingenuity to find solutions.
All companies have a great pool of creativity in their collaborators, if you put forward to them the challenge of how to reduce footprint or waste on those identified culprits, you’ll be surprised at the ideas that will come out. But start by mapping where the waste it.