Unlocking Sustainability Wins With Digitalisation

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In today’s eco conscious landscape, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may face increasing pressure to operate sustainably. However, some may struggle with perceived barriers to sustainability. According to our UOB Business Outlook Study 2024 (Regional), businesses in Southeast Asia cited their biggest sustainability hurdles to be concerns about negative impact on profits (30 percent), the impact to revenues in the short term (27 percent) and the lack of proper infrastructure (29 percent).

Resource constraints can be a significant contributor to these challenges, but digitalisation can be an excellent solution to address such shortages. 80 percent of Southeast Asian enterprises have already implemented digitalisation in at least one department. With such active transformation and rising internet penetration rates in the region, SMEs are well-positioned to integrate digital aspects into their sustainability goals.

Harnessing the potential of digital tools and technologies can empower SMEs towards greater sustainability through optimising resources, empowering data-driven decision making, and fostering key collaborations for a greener future. Herein lies the core connotation of using science and technology for good. When SMEs learn the best method to combine digitalisation and sustainability, we at UOB FinLab, are confident that they can collectively promote economic, environmental, and societal development in Southeast Asia.

Optimising carbon efficiency and reporting

Digital technology can drastically reduce carbon emissions and enhance resource efficiency, mostly by streamlining day-to-day processes. Energy metres, automated monitoring devices, and logistical software, for example, can all be used to replace manual effort. With time saved and reduced human error, SMEs can employ digital solutions to streamline their everyday operations, resulting in less resource and energy use, and an overall lower carbon footprint.

SMEs can also create an indirect impact on sustainability with digital tools. For instance, remote work capabilities that employ cloud technology and video conferencing can effectively minimise commute times among employees. This can reduce aggregate carbon emissions from transportation compared to those who are in the office more frequently.

Beyond resource efficiency, digitalisation can provide SMEs with the opportunity to maximise their visibility and transparency of various supply chains. SMEs can opt for Internet of Things (IoT) devices to conduct real-time access to their carbon footprint data. By tracking this data, SMEs can identify emission hotspots and make immediate adjustments to optimise their environmental performance.

Furthermore, SMEs can use this data to generate verifiable carbon reports, which is critical for attracting potential green investors and adhering to compliance requirements. When used effectively, digital tools and platforms can help SMEs build a data infrastructure that is consistent and traceable, which can build trust with investors as well as eco-conscious consumers that increasingly value sustainability efforts.

Fostering optimal collaborations for sustainability

Digitalisation also serves as a powerful networking tool for SMEs, fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing, and thereby improving their sustainability efforts. For instance, webinars, online courses, and knowledge repositories can equip SMEs with the knowledge and skills they need to implement sustainable practices. These resources can even address subjects such as sustainable supply chain management, environmentally friendly marketing techniques, and energy efficiency methods.

Such an enhanced collaborative approach can accelerate innovation and problem-solving in the pursuit of a more sustainable future. Our Sustainability Innovation Programme (SIP) provides a vivid demonstration of this. The programme combines the best experts, support, and tools to help SMEs get started and thrive in their sustainability journeys. SIP sessions provide SMEs with access to a range of digital resources given by UOB Finlab’s extensive 25,000 strong professional network.

UOB FinLab is committed to helping SMEs leverage the best integration of digitalisation and sustainability. Last year’s SIP saw 65% of participants stating that SIP sparked the start of their ESG programmes, with several completing the UOB Sustainability Compass to generate a customised report based on their sector and sustainability maturity stage. We are also collaborating with Gprnt, an integrated ESG data disclosure platform, to let SMEs take advantage of their platform to disclose and report their ESG data for the upcoming SIP. These are just some of the many digital tools that programme participants can expect to utilise during this year’s SIP.

Overall, digitalisation acts as a sustainability booster for SMEs through its vast spectrum of tools. These solutions can streamline daily operations, enhance carbon reporting, and connect SMEs to a network of sustainability-focused resources and collaborators. This translates to a double win for SMEs: minimising carbon and maximising efficiency. The result? An incredibly positive environmental impact and a catalyst for innovation that paves the way for a greener future.

Our Sustainability Innovation Programme 2024 revolves around the pillars: Develop, Disclose, and Decarbonise. We at UOB FinLab are excited to witness the impactful development, ideas, and innovations to come. SIP will run from 15 August 2024 – 26 September 2024. Registration for Sustainability Innovation Programme 2024 is now open.

Click here to register, and here for more programme information.

Online programme

Start Smart Programme

Designed for business owners to enhance their digital capabilities through practical learning, this programme takes businesses to the next level.

Online programme

Start Smart Programme

Designed for business owners to enhance their digital capabilities through practical learning, this programme takes businesses to the next level.

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