The importance of supply chain sustainability data in 2024 and beyond

In today’s business landscape, sustainability has emerged as a critical concern for organizations across various industries. Companies are increasingly recognizing the importance of adopting sustainable practices in their supply chains to minimize environmental impact and ensure long-term success. However, a recent study by IBM titled ‘Beyond checking the box‘ highlighted in a recent article in Supply Chain Digital reveals a significant gap between the intention and impact of sustainability efforts. While 76% of executives agree that sustainability is central to their business, only 30% are making significant progress in executing their sustainability strategies. At Permutable AI, we believe that the lack of supply chain sustainability data plays a crucial part in this disconnect.

The disconnect on sustainability

The IBM study highlights a disconnect between intention and impact when it comes to sustainability. Despite the majority of executives acknowledging its importance, many organizations struggle to source supply chain data from their core systems. According to the study, fewer than half of organizations can automatically access sustainability data from their enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions or other core systems.

The lack of access to supply chain sustainability data poses a significant challenge for organizations aiming to improve sustainability performance. Without accurate and timely data, it becomes difficult to assess the environmental impact of supply chain activities and identify areas for improvement. This gap in data availability hampers progress towards sustainable practices and inhibits organizations from achieving their sustainability goals.

The need for high-quality supply chain sustainability data and transparency

The IBM study underscores the crucial role of high-quality data and transparency in achieving sustainability outcomes. 82% of respondents agree that high-quality data and transparency are necessary for successful sustainability initiatives. However, only 40% of organizations can automatically source supply chain sustainability data from their core systems.

This lack of supply chain sustainability data availability not only hinders organizations’ ability to measure their sustainability performance but also limits their ability to make informed decisions and drive meaningful change. Without access to reliable supply chain sustainability data, organizations may struggle to identify key areas for improvement, track progress, and report on their sustainability efforts.

Key findings on supply chain sustainability

The IBM study reveals several key findings related to supply chain sustainability:

Funding challenges

  • Nearly half (47%) of the executives surveyed struggle to fund sustainability investments. This highlights the financial barriers organizations face when trying to implement sustainable practices.

Trade-offs between financial and sustainability outcomes

  • Six in 10 executives say they have to make trade-offs between financial and sustainability outcomes. This suggests that organizations often face difficult decisions when balancing their economic objectives with their sustainability goals.

Spending disparities

  • The study found that spending on sustainability reporting exceeds spending on sustainability innovation by 43%. This indicates a potential imbalance in resource allocation, with organizations prioritizing reporting over implementing innovative sustainable practices.

Benefits of embedding sustainability

  • Organizations that embed sustainability into their operations are 75% more likely to attribute greater improvement in revenue from their sustainability efforts. These organizations are also 52% more likely to outperform their peers on profitability. This highlights the potential benefits of integrating sustainability into the core of business operations.

The role of Generative AI

  • 64% of executives surveyed agree that generative AI will be important for their sustainability efforts. Artificial intelligence can play a crucial role in analyzing large datasets and identifying patterns and opportunities for improvement, thereby enhancing sustainability performance.

The path to sustainable operations

The journey towards achieving sustainable operations necessitates a shift from viewing sustainability as a mere regulatory or superficial requirement to embracing it as a fundamental component of business strategy and operations. This transition involves embedding sustainability principles deeply within the organisational culture, decision-making processes, and operational practices. It’s about moving beyond the traditional compliance-driven approach to a value-driven paradigm, where sustainability is interwoven with the fabric of the business, influencing everything from product design and procurement to logistics and customer engagement.

An intentional and strategic approach to sustainability demands that organisations not only set ambitious goals but also develop concrete plans and metrics to achieve these objectives. This involves a detailed assessment of the environmental impact across the supply chain, identifying high-impact areas where interventions can yield significant sustainability improvements. By focusing on these key areas, companies can drive efficiency, reduce waste, and lower their carbon footprint more effectively.

Integrating sustainability into core operations means leveraging innovation and technology to create smarter, more sustainable solutions. This could involve investing in clean energy sources, adopting circular economy principles to minimise waste, or using advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain to enhance supply chain transparency and traceability.

Crucially, a strategic approach to sustainability also entails engaging with stakeholders – including employees, customers, suppliers, and communities – to foster a collective commitment to sustainability goals. By building a culture that values sustainability, organisations can harness the power of collective action to drive change. Engaging stakeholders not only helps to align efforts and amplify impact but also strengthens the company’s reputation and brand value in the eyes of consumers who increasingly demand sustainable products and practices.

Furthermore, integrating sustainability into day-to-day operations requires ongoing measurement and reporting to track progress against sustainability targets. This transparency not only holds the organisation accountable but also enables continuous improvement by highlighting successes and identifying areas for further action.

Ultimately, the path to sustainable operations is a continuous journey that requires dedication, innovation, and collaboration. By adopting an intentional and strategic approach, organisations can transform sustainability from a box-checking exercise into a source of competitive advantage, resilience, and long-term value creation for both the business and society at large.

Permutable AI’s supply chain sustainability data solution

At the heart of Permutable AI’s mission is the conviction that sustainability and efficiency need not be mutually exclusive. Our platform employs advanced AI algorithms to track supply chain sustainability risks and monitor supply chain links in real time, offering businesses an unprecedented level of insight into their environmental impact, eradicates the common barriers to accessing and analyzing supply chain sustainability data.

Empowering decision-makers with actionable insights

The lack of accessible, reliable supply chain sustainability data has long been a stumbling block for organizations striving to align their supply chain operations with sustainable practices. Permutable AI’s solution transforms this landscape by providing decision-makers with actionable insights derived from real-time data. This enables a swift assessment of the sustainability performance across supply chains, identifying potential areas for improvement and facilitating the implementation of targeted strategies to enhance sustainability outcomes.

Enhancing sustainability performance through transparency and accountability

In an era where supply chain transparency is not just valued but expected by consumers, stakeholders, and regulatory bodies, Permutable AI’s solutions serve as a critical tool for businesses. By offering detailed visibility into the sustainability aspects of supply chain operations, organizations can not only monitor their environmental footprint but also communicate their progress and commitment to sustainable practices with confidence. This level of transparency fosters greater accountability and supports informed decision-making, driving the industry towards more sustainable futures.

Navigating the financial-sustainability nexus

Understanding the financial implications of sustainability investments is crucial. Permutable AI’s approach addresses the challenges highlighted by IBM’s findings, where executives face trade-offs between financial and sustainability outcomes. By leveraging AI for efficiency gains and cost savings, our solutions demonstrate that sustainable supply chain practices can indeed align with financial objectives, helping to overcome funding barriers and facilitating a balanced approach to resource allocation.

Driving innovation and competitive advantage

At Permutable AI, we recognizes that embedding sustainability into the DNA of supply chain operations can unlock significant benefits. As per IBM’s study, organizations that integrate sustainability measures are more likely to see improvements in revenue and outperform their peers in profitability. Through real-time sustainability tracking and AI-driven insights, Permutable AI enables businesses to not only meet compliance requirements but also drive internal innovation, enhance their brand reputation, and secure a competitive edge in the market.

Find out more

Elevate your supply chain sustainability efforts with Permutable AI. By leveraging advanced AI algorithms, our platform offers unparalleled insights into your environmental impacts, transforming challenges into opportunities for impactful change. Don’t let supply chain sustainability¬†data gaps hinder your sustainability ambitions. Contact us at enquiries@permutable.ai to discover how we can support your journey towards more sustainable and efficient operations or fill in the form below to get in touch.