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January 31, 2022updated 21 Mar 2022 9:31am

Tech vendors gear up for the next digital adventure: ESG

By GlobalData Thematic Research

In today’s market, companies cannot hide from their ESG performance. Investors, employees, partners, and governments demand that companies act on the critical issues we face today and make sustainability the top priority. Tech vendors are taking note of this and gearing up to cater to their clients’ growing ESG demands and the issues surrounding ESG disclosures, the circular economy, and energy management.

Data derived from GlobalData’s Job Analytics tool shows that leading technology vendors and service providers are bolstering their ESG advisory capabilities in their hiring practices. By combining their expertise in key technologies like Internet of Things (IoT) artificial intelligence (AI), and Big Data with their newfound expertise in ESG, these companies are gearing up to help their clients reach net zero by the middle of this century.

Tech players are on an ESG hiring spree

For instance, in November 2021, Accenture and Envision Digital announced a strategic sustainability partnership to provide comprehensive sustainability offerings to help drive clients’ business transformation and achieve their net-zero goals. Aside from having over 3000 active sustainability-related job roles, Accenture is further augmenting its sustainability services through acquisitions. In December 2021, Accenture acquired Zestgroup, a services firm specializing in energy transition, net-zero carbon projects, and renewables procurement.

Measuring and tracking ESG performance remains a pain point

Reporting ESG disclosures is quickly becoming mandatory across developed economies. While the ESG reporting landscape remains complex, all signs are pointing towards the Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), as the G7 finance ministers have agreed to mandate climate-related financial reporting aligned with the recommendations of the TCFD. Disclosure requires accurate and reliable data, which is proving to be a difficulty for many companies. According to GlobalData’s ESG Strategy survey, which polled 1500 ESG executives, 57% of respondents cited measuring and tracking ESG-related performance as the top challenge in ESG reporting.

This creates significant opportunities for tech vendors to integrate IoT devices and energy management software into customers’ operations to simplify the data collection and reporting process. For instance, US-based software provider ServiceNow’s ESG management and reporting software allows companies to track performance, collect and validate audit-ready data, and create disclosure aligned with the major sustainability reporting frameworks.

Sustainability is the next digital chapter

The next chapter for technology vendors and service providers will focus on applying their technical expertise to the challenges businesses face to reach net-zero and honor their sustainability commitments. In the words of Accenture CEO Julie Sweet, “Sustainability is going to be the next digital, and every business will be a sustainable business.”

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink shares a similar view. In his 2022 letter to CEOs, Fink reiterated the importance of sustainability and stated that the next 1000 unicorns—defined as a startup with a valuation over $1 billion—will no longer be search engines or social media companies, but rather companies who “help the world to decarbonize and make the energy transition affordable for all consumers”.