The sustainability challenges being faced by society today bring about the urgent need for an open discussion between institutions, companies and society about the economic and social model we wish to foster. As part of this debate, we will also have to define the role technology must play in helping us build the sustainable future we want.
Growing concerns worldwide about issues such as economic sustainability, integrating and developing different regions and protecting the environment make it clear, on the verge of the 2020 frontier set by the European Union almost a decade ago, that many tasks and challenges remain for our continent to fulfil the strategy’s main goals. Europe needs to improve its competitiveness, make its economic model more flexible, invest in sustainable growth and encourage institutions, companies and citizens to act together to create a roadmap that will set out both the way forward and the sustainable development for the coming years.
This list of pending tasks makes an open discussion between the main social actors— institutions, companies and citizens—to set out the vision of the Europe we want and how we want to build it more essential than ever. As part of this debate, we also need to determine the role that innovation and technology should play. This is an unquestionable opportunity for the ICT sector to show the potential of technology to build sustainable and environmentally friendly economic and social models.
A SUSTAINABLE EUROPE
The need to overhaul the socio-economic model that currently prevails worldwide has led the European Union to create a new strategy called Project Europe 2030, which is based on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) published by the United Nations in 2015. The project’s aim is to promote a framework for action that will allow for coordinating institutional, business and citizen strength to promote and achieve truly intelligent, sustainable and integrating growth, which will also be applied to three different areas: economy, society and the environment.
The Sustainable Development Goals are the foundation on which to construct a debate as they counterbalance these three fields within five different areas of action that are considered to be essential to achieving a sustainable and egalitarian society. These areas are: human dignity, regional and global stability, a healthy planet, fair and resilient societies and prosperous economies.
Even though it could be said that technology does not have much of a role to play in many of these aspects, in actual fact, we already have examples where applying technology has led to the implementation of projects that have improved the lives of citizens with special attention paid to the environmental aspect, or the development of business models that make the economic structures we have known up until now more flexible.
In fact, within the global debate that we must launch at all levels, the major challenge for the global tech sector comes from sharing technology’s possibilities for achieving an integrating, economically sustainable and environmentally friendly society.
Cloud, Connectivity and digitization to boost sustainable development worldwide
CLOUD AND IOT ARE THE GLUE FOR THE NEW TECH
In that regard, technologies such as Cloud and Connectivity are allowing us to draw up new applications that, for instance, bring regions that were previously distant closer together through the option of sharing information at any time and in any place. These technologies are letting us build sources of accumulated knowledge, where the co-operation of very different actors means we can analyse and design more realistic social models, which make more efficient use of the resources available. That is why we at T-Systems are committed to these technologies as a means of developing robust digitalisation strategies to help companies boost their business outcomes. Let’s Power higher performance! is the claim that represents this vision of the role technology should play in building the future by working from the present.
This relationship between technology and sustainable social development may be easier to envision if we talk about technologies such as Artificial Intelligence or the Internet of Things. Let’s consider, for instance, the case of the connected car. This is a very specific example and a concept with which we are already very familiar. Very different kinds of technologies converge in this ‘connected car’ and each one opens up a range of possibilities, both present and future, while also providing specific benefits for the user and the context in which we are driving.
For instance, applying connectivity technologies combined with IoT means the car can transmit information about location, conditions and use, which leads to increased security for users. In the case of public transport, for instance, this means municipal vehicle traffic can be regulated more efficiently, thus leading to energy and time savings. It will also lead to autonomous driving in the future. Cloud Computing technologies also come into play, compiling the information transmitted by those connected cars and storing them so Artificial Intelligence technologies can process the data and extract or establish relationships that our own brains would be incapable of doing. The benefits of using this technology include the possibility that these connected cars might have zero emission systems, thus reducing their environmental impact through a combination of engineering and the latest technological advances.
DIGITALIZATION IS THE WAY FORWARD
Technology provides institutions, companies and society itself with a tool with which we can actively collaborate to build the society of the future, based on the principles of economic, social and environmental sustainability being demanded by today’s world.
That is why it is essential to promote the digitalisation of the business world and therefore boost its integration into the sustainable economic models we are currently trying to find for Europe and the world. We should take advantage of technological solutions to achieve a twin goal. On the one hand, technology promotes more efficient and effective business models, which allow for better management of available resources while also adopting more flexible economic models that will drive a company’s current and future development. On the other, accessing technology promotes a cycle of innovation-based growth that drives a new culture within a company, with a new way of thinking and envisaging the context, its needs and the solutions that can be provided, which, in turn, transcends the company and touches society as well.
With this in mind, it would be very bold to say that technology is the answer to society’s current challenges, but the tech sector undoubtedly has plenty to contribute in the search for a shared path for institutions, companies and citizens towards the Europe and the sustainable world of the future.