An IDC-led survey of 800 global executives commissioned by UiPath, a leading enterprise automation software company, found that 54% of organizations are already using enterprise automation technologies to help implement sustainability initiatives, and another 24% plan to do so in the coming two years. The IDC study also shows that organizations which have established intelligent automation practices are also more mature in terms of their sustainability efforts.
Sustainability—viewed by IDC through a triple-bottom-line lens of maximizing benefits to, and minimizing negative impacts on, the economy, society, and the environment—is a leading priority for organizations. Yet significant cost and complexity challenges make progress difficult.
“Sustainability is a major strategic priority for businesses, and organizations the world over are moving quickly to define sustainability goals and incentives. However, when it comes to operationalizing sustainability initiatives, there are significant business and technology challenges that make progress difficult,” said Neil Ward-Dutton, Vice President of Automation, Analytics, and AI at IDC Europe. “With automation’s ability to increase an organization’s agility, efficiency and speed to value, enterprise automation platforms and practices can help address many of these challenges, and have strong roles to play in unlocking the potential of sustainability initiatives.”
“Automation fills an organization’s operational gaps and makes sustainability initiatives actionable at a time where sustainability is a leadership and management priority,” said Rob Enslin, Co-CEO at UiPath. “Every organization has a responsibility to be a responsible corporate citizen for its community, its employees, and the environment. The insights are relevant for all businesses. Enterprise automation is ideal for unlocking the potential of sustainability initiatives across the organization and for overcoming technical barriers.”
The survey reveals:
Sustainability investments are a major priority, but present challenges: Global executives noted that the top drivers for their sustainability initiatives were operational efficiencies and cost savings (40%), and enhanced brand value and trust (33%). Additionally, 68% said that they have a board member specifically responsible for sustainability.
Regarding sustainability program priorities, more than one-third of respondents highlighted the importance of IT efficiency. Twenty-eight percent indicated responsible sourcing as their main concern, and 27% reported that both overall energy efficiency and employee well-being, health, and safety were top of mind.
However, 35% of respondents indicated that dispersed/siloed resources were the main organizational challenges they faced when attempting to become more sustainable, followed by difficulty identifying appropriate KPIs (33%) and a lack of operational technology (32%).
Automation for sustainability offers substantial benefits: To introduce and manage sustainability initiatives, organizations are leveraging automation to drive agility and ensure quality of information and measurement. Organizations are using automation to more easily extract data from human-readable documents and to source data quickly. Another top automation use case for sustainability is process improvement (45%).
When weighing the benefits automation could bring to their organizations in the future, more than half of all executives indicated the value of enabling workers to do more meaningful work and increasing employee satisfaction as the top potential advantage. Other potential benefits included more easily sourcing data (55%); the ability to develop new value propositions, products, and services (53%); and easier understanding of operational performance and improvement areas (52%). The IDC study commissioned by UiPath polled 800 global executives in C suite-level and senior management roles at companies with more than 250 employees in September 2022 to understand their organizations’ attitude and approach to automation and sustainability practices.
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