How technology can help the planet - and your bottom line

April 21, 2022 | 6 minute read
Emma Hitzke
Senior Product Marketing Director, Emerging Tech
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The people you sell to, partner with, and hire are working to build a more sustainable future, and they want the companies they work with to help them in that effort. To them, it’s not enough for you to focus on profitability and financials; they also want you to focus on sustainability. Processes need to be put into place towards the advancement of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices.

In fact, according to new research from Oracle and Pamela Rucker, CIO Advisor, Instructor for Harvard Professional Development, one out of every four people research, donate, and otherwise commit their lives to sustainability and social causes.

And they may be losing patience with the companies that operate in their sphere. In a recent global study by Oracle in partnership with Rucker, No Planet B: How Can Businesses and Technology Help Save the World?, 78% of respondents expressed frustration with society's lack of progress on ESG and sustainability initiatives, and 91% want businesses to be held accountable.

The good news is that companies that do focus on ESG can reap significant rewards. As Rucker explains, there is not just a bottom line, it’s the triple bottom line effect[1]. "It's People, Profit, and Planet … it's about how you treat the people that work for you, how you use the profit that you make and affects the world broadly. And then obviously it’s the planet…how are you working in a sustainable way in protecting the planet that we have?"


Using technology to advance ESG initiatives

But business leaders admit they are struggling. 91% report facing major challenges in their progress towards their sustainability and ESG goals, including obtaining ESG metrics from partners and other third parties, not having the data needed to track progress, and dealing with time-consuming manual processes when it comes to reporting on those metrics.

Those same business leaders see technology as a solution to these issues and as a way to advance their ESG initiatives. In fact, 89% of business leaders believe companies that use technology effectively to help drive sustainable businesses will be the ones to succeed in the long run. The public agrees. For example, 61% of people believe artificial intelligence (AI)-driven bots will succeed where humans have failed with corporate sustainability and diversity progress.

93% of business leaders would trust a bot over a human to make sustainability and social decisions feeling that AI-enabled bots are better at:

  • Collecting different types of data without error
  • Making rational, unbiased decisions
  • Predicting future outcomes based on metrics/past performance
  • Identifying new ways to tackle an issue
  • Being able to determine necessary steps to meet goals

But technology cannot do all the work. While bots are stronger in certain areas, their ultimate role is to support employees who can focus on more critical tasks, such as implementing changes based on gathered data or making data-driven decisions within the context of company protocols and strategies. 

ESG and IT

To meet expectations, companies need to embed ESG and sustainability throughout their business. Much of the critical data necessary to support ESG resides in enterprise software systems, and if this data can be combined, utilized, and analyzed, the improvements can be substantial.

ESG and reporting 

ESG reporting is complex. Many finance leaders stated that they struggle with trying to report on their ESG initiatives. In addition to the time-consuming manual reporting processes, many leaders struggle to report on non-financial ESG metrics, while others shared that they have no unified reporting structure.

But reporting on the current state of ESG and sustainability is not enough. The goal—in investors' and customers' minds—is to drive change, and for that, you need the data to tell you not only where you are now but also where you need to go. With machine learning (ML) embedded into Oracle Cloud Enterprise Performance Management (EPM), finance and operations teams can use large volumes of data to model, plan, and predict outcomes in the context of their sustainability plans. With AI and ML, they can go even further by analyzing that planning data to uncover anomalies, hot spots, or extreme variances so that they can act quickly to correct course and keep on track with ESG goals.

ESG and supply chain management

Designing sustainably, predicting demand, improving manufacturing efficiency, and qualifying the right sourcing partners are rarely straightforward. Still, with greater visibility into all supply chain and commercial operations, you can plan effectively and significantly cut waste and costs. With Oracle Fusion Cloud Supply Chain & Manufacturing (SCM), natively embedded with AI, IoT, and blockchain capabilities, you can improve product quality, reduce waste, eliminate inefficiencies, and identify concentrated environmental resources and risks through an integrated and unified view of your supply chain.

ESG and human resources

ESG has a critical human side. If companies take action and show the progress they are making, the benefits to recruiting, hiring, and retention can be significant. Almost 70% of respondents said they would leave their current company to work for one that takes ESG more seriously. Eighty-three percent said that they would work for companies that took action on ESG and are clearly able to demonstrate progress. With Oracle Fusion Cloud Human Capital Management (HCM), you have the right tool to help you focus on these employees. With a system that provides that single source of truth for your employees' data, you can reduce paper waste, create and maintain diversity and inclusion initiatives, support worker health and safety, and meet regulatory compliance and data security and privacy needs. 

How Oracle approaches ESG 

Today, Oracle is collaborating with employees, customers, and partners to identify and address key elements of environmental sustainability and diversity and inclusion. Among other initiatives, Oracle has:

  • Designed its Oracle Cloud Infrastructure with clear sustainability goals in mind.
  • Reduced its customers' carbon liability by providing cloud services on an efficient and low/no carbon infrastructure.
  • Committed to reducing the environmental impact in our operations with very aggressive goals on water, waste and emissions reductions.
  • Designed its hardware to encompass the circular economy, diverting over 99% of 
e-waste from landfills.
  • Launched the Oracle Career Relaunch Program to assist job candidates who want to reenter the workforce after a career pause.  
  • Established a program to work with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to diversify the tech industry.
  • Worked with external organizations to help break down barriers, increase opportunities, and provide scholarships for people with disabilities. 

Oracle is creating solutions that companies can use to manage their sustainability goals. For example, Chipotle, the restaurant chain, moved to Oracle Cloud ERP, EPM, and SCM applications, and gained clearer views across financial systems, leading to improved demand forecasting and inventory control. Now, Chipotle enjoys strong growth—without compromising its mission of serving real food sourced from sustainable farms.


The time to act is now, take the next steps

One final sentiment came through loud and clear from the study No Planet B: How Can Businesses and Technology Help Save the World? People will cut ties with businesses that don’t take action on sustainability and social initiatives. To remain successful, you need to prioritize sustainability and social issues and rethink how you can use technology to make a positive impact. Or you risk facing the consequences.



    Access the full report.

    Visit our ESG page.









1 - For more information: John Elkington, Cannibals With Forks: Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century, John Wiley & Son Ltd. Pamela Rucker redefines finance with the power of the triple bottom line.


Emma Hitzke

Senior Product Marketing Director, Emerging Tech

Emma Hitzke is passionate about how new technologies can solve real business problems and be the positive force behind societal progress. She got her first experience at Motorola (remember the smallest phone in the world, the StarTAC?). She then went on a journey working with startups and Fortune 500 companies (PwC, IBM, Intel) on software, microprocessors, wearables, IoT, and AI. She may have at some point worn three smartwatches. Since joining Oracle in 2019 as senior product marketing director for emerging tech, she has been living and breathing advanced technologies and cloud-based applications. A native from France, Emma moved to California and currently resides in San Francisco with her husband, son, and two chickens. She is still thinking about equipping their coop with IoT sensors.

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