There is No Planet B: Can Supply Chains Save the World?

planet b

planet bClimate change. Resource scarcity. Population growth. Urbanization. Air and water pollution. When it comes to sustainability, many business leaders are feeling the pressure to act. Customers, investors, and regulatory agencies are demanding that companies actively address the climate crisis. Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) priorities impact every facet of business and will determine the market leaders of tomorrow. But the challenge of figuring out where to begin leaves business leaders stuck at the starting line.

Oracle’s recent global survey, No Planet B: How Can Businesses and Technology Help Save the World? found that while 93% of people believe sustainability and social factors are more important than ever, 91% of business leaders face major challenges with sustainability and ESG initiatives. These include:

  • Challenges getting ESG metrics from suppliers, partners, and other third parties
  • Difficulty tracking their ESG progress due to a lack of data
  • Time-consuming manual processes to report on ESG metrics
  • Complexities integrating data from across global supply chains

Start with your supply chain

These responses illustrate that supply chain sustainability is top of mind for many companies. It might seem overwhelming, but supply chain is one of the first places you can make improvements, because every aspect—from manufacturing to transporting goods has a sustainability component. From product design, sourcing and operations planning, to manufacturing, logistics and warehousing, there are many opportunities for improved efficiency at each stage of the process.

Much of the ESG journey is about conserving resources with smart planning and automation—but you can’t do that manually with spreadsheets. Investing in technology can help companies prioritize and make progress with their sustainability initiatives. Moving the cloud is one way to start to this process.

Cloud applications that manage your supply chain provide real-time access—a single source of truth no matter where you are. They provide information using dashboards and alerts that are easy to understand and allow you to collaborate with not just internal teams, but also with partners and suppliers. You can take action and respond to supply chain issues before they cascade into catastrophes.

From product design to last mile sustainability

But cloud applications are just the start. From design to the last mile, you can establish standards for sustainable product design and packaging, collaborate with ethical suppliers and source materials responsibly, run simulations to understand the environmental impact of manufacturing and product end-of-life options– such as reuse or recycling.

On the transportation side, a cloud-based TMS integrated with IoT capabilities can help you make lower-carbon transportation choices. Reduce waste and lower your costs by monitoring the condition of goods in transit to reduce spoilage. Even something as simple as planning truck routes with fewer left turns, or re-arranging your warehouse layout can help deliver goods faster, while reducing carbon emissions.

The challenge of change

ESG initiatives will require some change management. Some employees will worry that technology and automation might mean the end of their jobs. The World Economic Forum reports that, “by 2025, technology will create at least 12 million more jobs than it destroys.” Reassure your employees that while automation may take over manual tasks, there will be more time for strategic thinking, innovation, and work-life balance.

Companies who prioritize sustainability also increases morale among employees. In fact, 83% of respondents to the “No Planet B” survey said they’re more likely to work for a company that demonstrates a commitment to ESG priorities, and 69% would leave their company to work for a brand that takes it more seriously. Especially in the tight talent market, attracting and retaining employees who believe deeply in their work is a win-win.

There’s no time to waste. The pressure to act is not just coming from consumers willing to cut ties with brands who don’t act on sustainability. Within the supply chain ecosystem, manufacturers can refuse to work with suppliers who don’t practice ethical sourcing, or shippers can award bids to carriers who have capabilities to reduce their carbon footprint. Future partnerships and opportunities will be built on the ESG initiatives your company undertakes today.

Joan Lim is director of product marketing at Oracle and leads go-to-market strategy for Oracle Cloud Logistics solutions, covering transportation, global trade, and warehouse management. Prior to Oracle, Joan held product marketing and strategy positions at Unilever, Qualcomm, Amadeus IT Group and various start-ups focusing on cloud applications and supply chain. Joan has a master’s degree in digital marketing strategy from Georgetown University, and a master’s degree in business from ESSCA Business School in France.

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