Corporate Responsibility

Exploring sustainability-driven innovation in the ICT sector

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What opportunities does sustainability-driven innovation offer the ICT (information an communication technology) sector? How are the expectations of stakeholder and thought leaders evolving? How can new business value be drawn from sustainability?

These are just some of the questions that the ICT sector is facing today. Answering these questions and moving the industry forward with a sustainability driven growth agenda was the aim of a Sustainable ICT Innovation workshop organised by Deutsche Telekom (DT) and the Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP). During the workshop over thirty representatives from a number of Deutsche Telekom departments and external experts collaboratively explored a range of possibilities to capitalise on sustainability as an innovation driver. New business models and partnerships with potential to unleash the opportunities of Sustainability-Driven Innovation within the ICT sector were also discussed.

Mr. Luis Neves, Group Climate Change and Sustainability Officer at Deutsche Telekom AG noted that "the ICT industry is in a fantastic position to drive the change that is needed in society. Without ICT we will not be able to reach sustainable lifestyles." Thus, ICT solutions were fundamental to making sustainability happen. Moreover, sustainability is critical for the long term success of Deutsche Telekom as it sparks great new ideas inside the company. The workshop participants agreed that there is immense scope of opportunities for Deutsche Telekom and the ICT sector as a whole. Engage with external stakeholders A number of sustainability-related opportunities were identified, including the potential for competitive advantage, new products and services, long-term cost savings, some possibilities to reach new markets, increased safety and transparency, and support for enabling services. Some key trends emphasised by participants included increasing consumer awareness and expectations towards the ICT sector, the escalating complexity of our world, and growing stakeholder demands for transparency and corporate responsibility. Some of the drivers that were highlighted during the discussions include rapid technological development, resource scarcity, escalating energy costs, and a change in society toward environment friendly values. The necessity for the ICT industry to engage more with the external stakeholders was emphasized on the grounds that a transformation in the ICT mind-set is needed and can only happen with the benefit of external stakeholder input. Furthermore, the value of social innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship was also highlighted. Last, but not least, participants expressed a willingness to engage with additional workshop events and suggested the launch of network of change agents to drive forward the ideas that were developed during the workshop, both within Deutsche Telekom and the ICT industry at large.