Digitalisation and Sustainability: Innovative Business 2022


Can Digitalisation make your Business more Sustainable?

Many business owners baulk at the terms ‘digitalisation’ and ‘sustainability’, as they seem like arduous lofty ideals that add costs and are not applicable to the majority of the SMEs out there.

Our  news feeds are filled with Multi-National companies’ grandiose gestures of goodwill, solar panels and tree planting, soaking up all the available CSR kudos. Don’t get me wrong this is great but how does the average Irish SME fit into this picture and why should they care about Sustainability or Digitalisation for that matter.

Let’s get one thing straight, Sustainability is not a lofty ideal, at its root it is survival. Survival is probably the most basic, raw motivator for any individual or business. 

The Western World has seen an exceptional growth in wealth over the last number of decades. This wealth has made doing business easy and somewhat flippant. I can remember my summer job in 2004, filling a large skip with “partially” damaged wood for disposal. 18 years later in the middle of a DIY home renovation I could cry when I think about it.The notion of finite resources only seems to be catching up to many of us now. After almost 20 years of telling my mother not to fill the kettle right to the tippy top every time she wants to make a cup of tea this month for the first time in her life she listened. 

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, well with a big enough electricity bill, you can it seems.


Waste in the workplace

One of the first lessons I ever learned working for one of the world’s largest multinationals was that business is a game of increments. Watching the highlights of last week’s Formula 1,the pinnacle of motor racing, the margin on lap times between the two top racers was four thousandths of a second at one stage. Four thousandths of a second, is that even measurable I thought to myself? Of course it is.It is the difference between first and second place and millions of euro in prize money and sponsorship. 

What does this have to do with digitalisation or sustainability you are asking yourself. Consider the multinationals are the F1 of the business world, they are concerned with shaving 4 thousandths of a percent off their Environmental metrics by reducing electricity consumption, carbon emissions , water usage, inventory spoilage etc.. but why?  Well it is the right thing to do but also because they are paying for all of that waste. 

Waste takes many forms, Social metrics focus on employees, health & wellbeing, diversity & inclusion and more but why? Well because it is the right thing to do but companies  realise that happy engaged employees add more value to their company. Unengaged, unproductive employees are a waste of potential and ultimately costly to the business. Can fewer motivated, enabled employees  do more?

Economic metrics such as cost/benefit analysis, internal rate of return (IRR), and return on investment (ROI) are examples of financial metrics that are essential to most organisations.  Every time they improve these metrics  by even the smallest amount they are headed in the right direction. Economic metrics but do not operate in a vacuum, they are reliant on your environmental and social performance as above. 


How will digitalisation improve my business?

The world is changing at an unprecedented rate and the excesses that were once taken for granted are now coming under closer scrutiny. Digitalisation of our companies allows us to track performance with live data and increase communication between departments to ensure the efficient and profitable running of our companies.

You will not find a single multinational company that has not heavily invested in its digitalisation. Access to what was once the preserve of the largest corporations due to prohibitive costing is now widely available across all organisations. As the cost of phones, tablets and laptops have dramatically decreased everyone in your organisation from MD to General Operative is connected through some device. This creates a massive opportunity for SME’s to take their business to the next level and follow the lead of larger multinationals. SMEs can now track their performance like the top tier teams and the devil is in the details after all.

Let’s face it, once your paperwork has done its initial job and the boxes are ticked it is manually and untimely moved through departments until it gets bundled away, taking up space,heat & energy until you can legally send it for shredding. All at more cost to your business than you might realise. 

If you take away all the paperwork and replace it with integrated digital business management solutions, suddenly you don’t have a costly heap of rubbish, you have a  gold mine. 

Digitalisation and sustainability

Instead of having disjointed pieces of information scattered across your organisation, all of this data can now be collated, updated, checked, referenced, reported on,pivoted, and used to provide valuable insight into the performance of your company. It can show you performance over time and allows management to use accurate live data to make informed cost effective decisions when they need to be made, not at the end of the quarter or at the bi annual review  when it is too late. When all the data from across your organisation is collated you get more than data you get business intelligence.

Take the points and the goals will come

Inflation has essentially hit double figures this year with rising commodity and labour prices making it more important than ever that Irish SMEs utilise the power of Business Intelligence provided by digitalising their business.

 “ Take the points and the goals will come” was often the mantra in my junior football days. I feel it neatly summarises how SMEs should think about sustainability. Leave the tree planting  and solar panels to the big multinationals ( for now),concentrate on how you can incrementally remove waste and improve performance across your whole organisation. Digitalising your business will standardise working procedure, create accountability and offer a quick ROI with improved B.I, efficiency and profitability.

Sustainability at its base level is about the survival of your company into the future. A  sustainable company incrementally removes waste and streamline processes  because it is the right thing to do and because it is the profitable thing to do.

For a deeper dive into this topic, check out our lean webinar in the recording below that was held earlier this year.


For more information on how Herbst software can help you create sustainable practises in your workplace, check out our quick links below:

Connecting your business

Business continuity with Herbst

Lean and digitalisation


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