Sustainability and Digital Transformation

Sustainability and digital transformation are two defining and pressing issues of our time and should be more than just buzzwords. They deserve far more attention. For companies in particular, it will be beneficial in the long term to actively thematize these developments.

Digital transformation ( = transition into the digital world with its digital business models) is, among other things, connected to the following question: How can companies hold steady when the markets change as a result of disruptive technologies and business models? Accordingly, digital transformation also requires a reflection (and re-definition) of relationships between companies, employees, customers, and other stakeholders.

Digital transformation is an ongoing and far-reaching process of change. This process is based on ever-evolving technologies and their impact on society, economy, politics, and environment. Companies are permanently confronted with new challenges. These challenges require change and transformation. One approach of transforming leadership and corporate culture is the VOPA+ model. This abbreviation means networking (in German “Vernetzung”), openness, participation, agility + trust. This model can be used to support transformation processes in a world characterized by globalization, digitalization, and constant change. But where is the connection between digital transformation and sustainability? Therefore, we should clarify the term sustainability.

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The term has its origins in forestry and meant “sustainable usage and regenerability of wood as feedstock”. There only should be taken as much wood as will grow back naturally in a forest. Over time, sustainability changed its meaning and was related to sustainable economic development. Nowadays, (economical) growth and environmentalism are inseparably linked. As a result, economic and ecological dimensions should be considered holistically. Very important at this point: The 3 pillars of sustainability that should be thought of together: Social, ecological, and economic. Developing a strategy as a company requires more than only focusing on the economic pillar. Sustainable economic activity means understanding and managing the impact of the own business activities on environment, social issues, and corporate governance. The company’s business model(s) should also be considered and managed based on i.e. GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) or ESG (Environment, Social & Governance) aspects. 

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The ESG criteria result in ambitions to combine business growth with a commitment to a more sustainable and ethically integral future. But how can digital and sustainable transformation be brought together? For a successful change and transformation within a company, there is a need for employees who like to work in this company and who go along with this path. As described in the previous post, companies have to face up to many challenges. They have to give employees, customers, and suppliers the security to work on the transformation. They must relieve their worries and offer them the best possible conditions for work and decisions. The concepts of New Work can also make a significant contribution to this and support the transformation. For example, by …

Correspondent to a holistic view of sustainability, social sustainability is the link between economic and environmental sustainability. People are the common thread between nature, economy, and technology. An example: In the digital transformation, innovation and thus the development of business models results in a significant task for the company. The development of customer-oriented or -centered business models is especially important and requires general attention. External influences from customers and legal requirements are added to this. As a result, employees, partners, and suppliers often do not receive the necessary attention. They are pushed into the background. For this reason and from a holistic perspective, it is important considering the social dimension and incorporating it into the business models. Digital transformation and social sustainability cannot be separated and therefore belong together. They are the foundation of the survival as well as the value creation of companies.

Nachhaltigkeit und Digitale Transformation Sustainable Transformation