Analytically-Driven Decision Making is Key to Reach Sustainability Goals

Celal Kavuklu, the Director of Customer Advisory for the Middle East, Turkiye, and Africa at SAS, says employing green energy is just one part of a comprehensive sustainability strategy

How does technology contribute to sustainability?
Technology contributes to sustainability in multiple ways. First, there is the visible aspect. For instance, batteries based on novel technologies have enabled the car industry to shift from combustion engines to electric ones. Chipsets, displays, and electronic devices have grown more energy efficient, while digitization has resulted in the development of digital products and services: videoconferencing provides a low-carbon alternative to travel, whereas remote and hybrid work models have the potential to drastically reduce transportation-related emissions.

But beyond what the naked eye can see, there is data. When paired with advanced analytics, AI, and machine learning, data can provide valuable insight and help enterprises and governments navigate the route to net zero, while also supporting all environmental, social, and governance sustainability practices.

What sort of sustainability efforts does your company practice?
SAS not only has a long-standing reputation advocating for clean energy but also uses its own analytics to support environmental initiatives across its operations. SAS works collaboratively with employees, suppliers, and customers to decrease its environmental footprint through programs focused on energy conservation, emissions management, pollution mitigation, water conservation, green building, and other initiatives.

From streaming data to improve operations through its smart campus project to powering office buildings with renewable energy from its solar farms, the company uses SAS technologies to measure, monitor, and optimise energy efficiency. SAS technologies help to collect data, monitor key indicators, optimize consumption and report environmental performance.

Do we need to look at sustainability beyond the use of “green energy”?
Employing green energy is just one part of a comprehensive sustainability strategy. From a broad perspective, sustainability is about meeting the needs of the current generation, without jeopardizing future generations’ capacity to meet their own needs – and it covers resources from three main areas: environmental, social, and economic. Thus, in order to achieve truly sustainable development, we must improve health and education, eliminate poverty and unfairness, and stimulate economic growth, all while safeguarding the environment and our natural resources.

How can companies reduce their carbon footprint? Are there local or regional initiatives that encourage companies to adopt best practices?
Decarbonization is a complex process that requires a strong commitment to the goal. Aside from the investment costs that act as a deterrent for many companies, particularly those still recovering from the pandemic, developing a green supply chain is also quite challenging. Fortunately, green agendas and net zero plans are being implemented throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), most notably by the GCC countries, since the region is among the most affected by the climate crisis.

The UAE Net Zero 2050 strategic initiative is a bright example, while Saudi Arabia and Bahrain also intend to achieve net zero emissions by 2060. International voluntary initiatives like the UN-backed Race to Zero are also worth considering. It is also worth noting that the COP27 and COP28 conferences taking place in the region, proving the commitment of the governments and incentive to act today.

What challenges do companies face today in their journey toward net zero and how can technology help solve those issues?
Most organizations face challenges in their journey toward net zero. Whether we are talking about small and medium-sized businesses or large multinational corporations, the adaptation of a net zero strategy and, consequently, the operation requires significant changes. Growing regulatory requirements are also adding to the complexity.

When market volatility is factored in, as well as the need for business continuity and resilience in the face of disruptions, the outlook might seem disheartening. Companies need to address their entire value chain emissions, including those produced by their own processes, purchased electricity and heat, and generated by suppliers and end-users. In this context, data, analytics, and AI can be their most valuable ally, supporting data-based decision-making.

What factors can help companies advance toward their sustainability goals?
Analytically-driven decision-making is key in order to reach sustainability goals and consequently achieve net zero. Businesses built on a solid foundation of data and analytics will be well-positioned to adapt to new regulations whenever they are hard-set and pioneer the transition to a decarbonized, sustainable future. SAS’ solutions can assist organizations across all industries in making confident, transparent, and explainable decisions based on data and meeting regulatory requirements.

Of course, data and advanced analytics are critical components of the journey toward net zero for another reason: they are the only trustworthy way for organizations to demonstrate progress and prove that their actions have resulted in objective outcomes against scientifically defined criteria.

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