Ice Crystal Ball for 2018: Predictions in ICT and Sustainability

As we enter 2018 in the grips of a bomb-cyclone dumping frigid temperatures, snow, ice and floods up and down the eastern seaboard, it can be difficult to consider global warming particularly since global warming has nothing to do with weather and everything to do with climate change. Here is a good explanation of the two.

That said, it is a perfect time while you are hunkered down under your electric blanket in a winter parka that would make Nanuk of the North jealous to contemplate what might happen in 2018 in the information communications technology industries related to combating climate change by reducing carbon footprints and increasing sustainability efforts. 2017 brought about several key events that have thrown the trajectory of these initiatives into a whole new direction.

Combating Climate Change: With the United States federal government pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2017 others have had to step in. This includes state and local governments, grass roots efforts of individuals and non-profits, universities, but most importantly the corporate world. The end of 2017 showed a strong momentum by these groups into an economy powered by clean energy with corporations leading the charge. Last September in San Francisco (Global Climate Action Summit) and again in Poland in December (COP24), the commitment by businesses and other groups devoting themselves to science based targets and 100 percent renewable energy usage exceeded all expectations. 2018 is looking as though these numbers will keep rising. A major by-product of this is the strengthen of commitments by global national governments to exceed goals set for 2020 despite the US pull out. Germany and China in particular have stepped up to assume the leadership role that was left in the wake of the U.S. departure. These commitments are accelerating IoT and energy storage technology development and implementation at a frantic pace never before expected. This is further fueled by an increase in public opinion on the importance of fact-based, science founded data on the implications of climate change as seen in increased extreme weather events such as the hurricanes this past summer and the deep freeze we are in right now in the eastern U.S. The ICT industry is the glue that connects all of these initiatives together to be able to generate, organize, understand and act upon all of the data points available and beyond.

Collaboration: 2017 started the movement for better ways to collaborate in person and over distance. 2018 is poised to put collaboration center stage. A key indicator of this is the creation of a new c-suite position in many major companies – the chief collaboration officer. This is understood to be one of the fastest growing emerging corporate positions, is critical to managing local and global projects and influence and is a critical component to implementation of sustainability goals for all players. Additionally collaboration technology helps to offset carbon footprints by reducing travel without sacrificing communication in ways that have never before been experienced. This also includes the use of augmented/virtual reality collaboration tools which are allowing for greater depth in the collaborative process beyond screen shares and PowerPoint.

Financial Decisions: The Task Force on Climate-Related Finance Disclosure provided the roadmap for companies to look for ways to be more resilient in their business strategies. Corporations have embraced these recommendations and surpassed them by looking to include things that were not considered financial decisions previously. These decisions are allowing companies to keep the doors open in times of catastrophe and disruption such as what we saw what multiple major hurricanes pounded Texas and Florida in 2017. Investors started demanding the transparency and answers as to how companies survive climate driven disaster. ICT solutions are a key driver to help a company reach these solutions by maintaining flexibility in operations and movement of data and personnel.

Actions: The biggest change in 2018 will be more action by more individuals, companies and organizations that will drive policy and process even when Government is acting in contradiction to commitments and other initiatives that move the ball forward related to climate change. The massive global shift that embraces sustainability will continue to shape the world economy providing opportunity in the ICT industry to leverage technologies and strategies that will be necessary to achieve the desired goals. This will shape things for years and decades ahead as an avalanche has been unleashed even if we are frozen to the ground at the moment.