Published 2 months ago.
About a 5 minute read.
Many companies have embarked on their sustainability journey. In 2024, the
challenge will be to prioritize the innovations that add the most impact.
Sustainable technology is a rapidly advancing movement that is proving
beneficial to the bottom line, as well as the environment. Gartner, which
recently identified sustainable technology as one of its top strategic
predicts that a quarter of CIO compensation will soon be linked to their
sustainable technology impact. In the race to increase sustainability, however,
businesses are increasingly faced with a dizzying array of options.
Here are some of the sustainable technology trends — and challenges — that will
have the greatest impact in 2024.
The growing convergence of products, software, and data across sectors has
created valuable opportunities for enterprises to lower their carbon footprint
in both product design and the manufacturing process. Automation, in all its
forms, plays a critical part in delivering these sustainability benefits at
Many businesses have already begun to leverage automation strategies, such as
robotic process automation (RPA) and digital process automation
(DPA) — but they can go further. Hyperautomation is the next frontier,
promising greater efficiencies across a range of metrics — including power
consumption and reduced waste.
For example, one leading FMCG supplier has developed an AI-based system to
detect and prevent anomalies and malfunctions in the manufacturing process. This
system is being rolled out in more than 800 production lines worldwide —
shortening cycle times by up to 15 percent while massively reducing the
company’s carbon footprint. In addition to accelerating productivity, this
application of automation can also reduce downtime and waste because the
automated system detects anomalies in real-time and then identifies, isolates
and troubleshoots the affected element in the assembly line. Because this system
does not require direct intervention and can respond in real-time, it prevents
the damage of products that would ordinarily occur during a production glitch
lasting just a few minutes.
Automation doesn’t just improve sustainable production; it’s a key element in
advancing sustainable design goals. When combined with other game-changing
technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud, automation technologies can help enterprises
meet their sustainability goals much earlier in the product lifecycle — right at
the start of the design process.
There are several examples of how AI and automation can embed sustainability
across the product lifecycle, including:
Monitoring and modeling greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with embedded IoT
Automating power consumption at the component level to ensure sustainable
improvements can be achieved without compromising safety
Utilizing advanced AI and automation to design lighter-weight products,
which in turn reduce the carbon footprint at every future stage of the
Specifically, when used in conjunction with
automation technologies extend sustainability efforts into the supply chain —
providing visibility and assurance that partner organizations are adhering to
the same standards.
The value of the metaverse for
is too significant to be ignored. Sustainability is emerging as one of the major
benefits of increased adoption of digital twin
virtual training programs and
in the metaverse. For example, virtual training in high-risk industries
streamlines the use of resources and equipment, as well as improving safety and
In 2024, decarbonization is expected to be a growing driver for digital twin
For example, the aerospace and defense
— traditionally a carbon-intensive sector — has increased investment in digital
twin technology by 40 percent in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint.
Echoing efforts are underway in the automotive industry, where many
organizations are evaluating hydrogen
and electric battery usage to decarbonize.
However, with digital twin technology, engineers must assess several scenarios
in the early stages of development. Three-quarters of aerospace and defense
firms see immediate value in using digital twins from the very beginning of
product development and operations. They allow engineers to virtually validate
each step of the design process — cutting down prototyping as well as testing
time and costs. Beyond this, the technology can advance the efficiency of
existing engines and improve utilization to save substantial amounts of carbon
from being emitted.
Every business wants to improve margins, increase productivity, reduce waste and
lower energy consumption. Yet, sustainability efforts are facing a backlash from
several different corners — including a tide of anti-ESG
among businesses and legislators in some states. Across carbon-intensive
industries such as
sustainable technologies offer a new path — but one that comes with increased
costs, at least initially.
Price sensitivity is another significant challenge for sustainability efforts.
Variability in the cost of raw materials is squeezing the supply chain at a time
of global economic uncertainty. In some cases, such as the use of
the solutions themselves are attracting controversy as their carbon impact
Another key threat to sustainable technology comes from cybersecurity. As
previously manual processes become digitized and systems grow more
interconnected, the risk from cyberattacks grows. For example, the manufacturing
sector experienced a 53 percent increase in
in H1 2023 compared to the previous period. In order for digital manufacturing
to continue to drive sustainable innovation, businesses need to invest in
becoming more resilient to the shifting digital-risk landscape.
Despite challenges, the public is becoming increasingly aware — and supportive
of — technology as a force for climate
As the pace of innovation in sustainable tech accelerates, sustainability will
remain a major driver for establishing new business processes as well as
enhancing traditional ones. With so many options in a rapidly evolving tech
landscape, businesses must remain vigilant about the real value they’re adding
and what competitive advantage sustainability offers.
Published Dec 27, 2023 8am EST / 5am PST / 1pm GMT / 2pm CET
Naveen Saini is VP and Head of Industry for Consumer Products, Retail & Services at Capgemini Engineering.