IT is at the forefront of climate change

Mark Griep is convinced that technology can make a major contribution to combating climate change. He and his colleagues at PA Consulting are committed to this: “We want to make the world more sustainable by leveraging the positive aspects of technology.”

Making the world more sustainable through IT can be done in several ways, says Mark Griep, managing partner in the Dutch branch of PA Consulting. “Companies can, of course, develop new products or services related to sustainability or social themes. Solar panels for example. We are working on an alternative to plastic packaging with a food producer who sells many dairy products. ”

Innovation is central to all these issues. “We help customers innovate when it comes to new services or to change their organization. We make use of technology in a broad sense. This applies to IT technology, but we also have a laboratory where, among other things, medical, biological and process technologists work. This in-house knowledge really makes us distinctive as a consulting firm. In addition, we attach great value to end-to-end customer support. To do this, we combine all kinds of specialist competencies. We can help with many different challenges. ”

IT professionals
In addition to the development of sustainable products and services, sustainable technology has another side. “Technology can create more awareness by providing insight into how we handle energy. A smart thermostat is an example of a product that provides insight. ”

It is precisely in this area, when it comes to providing insight, that there are many opportunities for IT professionals. “If IT is not the core product you sell, it is often an important additional service. Behind the aforementioned thermostat is software that provides insight. In the same way, banks give customers insight into how green a loan or investment is. Data is required for that information. The IT professional can deliver that kind of product. “

At the same time, technology in general and IT in particular can also help to make your own business process greener. “The digital twin is very popular at the moment. You use this to make a digital copy of your production process using, among other things, artificial intelligence. This is done by extracting data from the machines. This simulation makes it very easy to look for more efficient ways to produce and better use of energy. We did this, among other things, with a customer in the nuclear industry. There we looked at how we could better regulate the supply and dissipation of heat, for example by using cooling water as efficiently as possible. It all has to do with IT. ”

Griep notes that large companies in particular have recently taken many steps in this area. “They also provide more and more insight into how they meet their own goals on climate and energy change, or the broader goals that the UN has set. They also measure much better, they have the data and can substantiate it. It is necessary. For example, pension funds want to be able to assure their customers that the money they receive comes from investments that are energy efficient or ethical. There is also a lot of IT and technology behind it. ”

For the smaller companies, the examples may still sound far away, but Griep believes that much is already possible for them as well. “The great advantage of today’s technology is that it is very accessible. When you wanted to do something with software before, it was often big and compelling. For smaller businesses, there was only a small package available to buy. For example, building a dashboard yourself became a challenge. Now there is much more open source software available. You can put things together much faster with the right components. Finding the right skills to develop things remains crucial in technology. Crafts are only becoming more important. If you do not have the skills in your organization, you need to manage it in a good way. ”

Government rules are also playing an increasingly important role, he continues. “Think of the nitrogen discussion that affects farmers’ business models. One must not only look at the possibilities of technology, but one must also respond to the rules. Regulations have drawbacks, but you can also bend them. ‘Any disadvantage have his advantage ‘, Cruyff said.

It is a hopeful fact that the young people are full of good ideas, he concludes. “Every year we organize our so-called Raspberry Pi competition for high school students. It has resulted in very beautiful inventions, such as a mobile deposit box to return empty bottles. The money can also be donated directly to a good cause if anyone so desires. Brilliant! There “Fortunately, there is a lot of energy, motivation and skills among the young people – a generation that is stuck in a world that does not look so beautiful. But it certainly also applies to the IT world.”

Author: Johan van Leeuwen

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