ESG as a future key component of IT strategies

How the organization of IT is providing technologies and capabilities for ESG

Your expert for questions

Silke Schelkmann
CIO Advisory Partner at PwC Germany

Know-how and technologies for becoming a sustainable company

In recent years, specific criteria have been established that make it possible to quantify companies’ efforts to achieve commercial sustainability and that are driving such efforts forward. Such criteria include environmental, social and governance standards, which are being embedded into company strategies and that assist in planning, quantifying and assessing sustainable value creation.     

In these times of ongoing digitalization, IT plays a decisive role in enabling companies to achieve their technological potential as well as in the development of new corporate and business models. As a result, chief information officers and chief digital officers have an active role to play in pushing forward the development of technology-based sustainability strategies and business processes and in achieving corporate goals in the areas of environment, social affairs and governance.

“Sustainability is becoming a cornerstone of IT strategy, a design premise when specifying IT infrastructure, a compass point for holistic decisions regarding technology and an aspirational model for tapping into new resources and achieving growth.”

Silke Schelkmann,CIO Advisory Partner at PwC Germany
ESG & IT startegies

The IT department has to ensure transparency, develop new skills and act sustainably

The increasing number of legal requirements as well as rising market and customer demand for sustainability are increasing the focus placed on ESG topics. Against this backdrop, companies must develop and implement new mechanisms so that supply chains are structured and managed transparently. 

In this context, sustainability encompasses both ecological and social factors as well as the management thereof (environment, social and governance). This development also has direct effects on CIOs and how IT is organized. Here, it is necessary to acquire new capabilities in order to achieve sustainability objectives.

The experts at PwC have developed an IT ESG Capability Map that provides a structured overview of the 30 most important capabilities that are required to integrate the topic of sustainability into the development of IT in a holistic manner. Comparison with these 30 skills provides the basis for determining the current maturity level in terms of IT sustainability as well as points of reference for the integration of ESG into ongoing or planned activities relating to the organization of IT.     

IT ESG Capability Map

The experts at PwC will assist you with the following tasks:

  • Identifying potential areas of action for the IT strategy in order to bolster its ESG orientation.
  • Drawing up guidelines for the implementation of ESG measures in organizations.
  • Elaborating upon and tapping into ESG opportunities within organizations.

How to identify ESG opportunities within IT


Focusing on environmentally friendly IT

Companies are coming under increasing pressure to manage their ecological footprint and to provide transparency by means of reporting. To do this, it is crucial to have effective data strategies and sustainable company architecture in place. 

CIOs have two key tasks. First, they must assess their own IT infrastructure with a view to sustainability. In addition, they must foster the development of a data-driven form of environmental management that is based on suitable technologies. 

Objective: greater sustainability throughout all of the company and the entire supply chain.

The IT department focuses on the following tasks:

  • Identifying improvement strategies for existing IT architecture in order to achieve the objective of green IT
  • Analysing the effects of IT systems and components on a closed-loop system
  • Utilizing the positive effects of high-quality and long-life components in relation to resource scarcity

Only by working closely with IT is it possible to bring about comprehensive improvements in performance figures, to achieve emission reduction goals and thus to implement a decarbonization or net-zero strategy.


The social responsibilities of IT

Companies have responsibilities towards their employees, suppliers and customers. Their conduct has direct effects on their reputation, brand value, success and growth. Throughout the world, stakeholders are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of sustainability within organizations. They select partners, employers and suppliers on the basis of ESG criteria.

Internally, CIOs can implement technologies, structures and systems for employees in order to meet the expectations of today’s labour market. Users and customers require extensive data regarding the life cycles of hardware, software, products and services. This is needed so that they can decide against or in favour of companies in an informed manner.

The IT department focuses on the following tasks:

  • Expanding measures centred around “new ways of working”
  • Identifying and activating potential regional ecosystems
  • Ensuring product and service quality within the ESG context

An ESG-oriented IT strategy has numerous advantages. It assists in building trust with suppliers and customers, in achieving positive impacts on society and the environment and in inspiring employees.        


Efficient corporate governance in the context of IT

For IT organizations to achieve their full potential, it is necessary to adjust IT governance and embed ESG criteria and values within the overall IT strategy and corporate culture. ESG structures and processes must therefore be established throughout the entire company and adjusted to meet the challenges arising from new regulations. 

The IT department faces the task of evaluating and making available all relevant data regarding ESG measures and activities for each of the three main categories (environment, social & governance). This is necessary so that ESG-oriented thinking can be continuously integrated into management decisions and leadership styles. 

The IT department focuses on the following tasks:

  • Developing assessment measures in order to measure the effectiveness of ESG activities
  • Using tools to establish ESG values at the company
  • Establishing IT as a driver of ESG innovation

Our Insights

Sustainable Enterprise Architecture with PwC and LeanIX

We worked with enterprise architecture management provider LeanIX and Viega, a global market and technology leader in the installation industry, to implement a sustainable IT transformation project that uncovered the potential of EAM for integrating ESG goals. Discover in our viewpoint how our LeanIX-based MVP as a central platform together with our ESG metrics supports Viega’s transformation.

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Sustainable Enterprise Architecture

In the coming years, enterprises will have to transform like never before to stay in business. At the interface between business and technology, CIOs and enterprise architects are of critical importance to this transformation. Our paper outlines four areas where Enterprise Architecture Management (EAM) is a starting point for sustainable IT strategies, enabler of sustainable organizations.

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“The topic of green IT is an indispensable agenda item for CIOs because IT is playing a key role in driving forward technology-assisted and data-based sustainability at companies.”

Silke Schelkmann,CIO Advisory Partner at PwC Germany
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Silke Schelkmann

Silke Schelkmann

Partner, CIO Advisory, PwC Germany

Estelle Places

Estelle Places

Manager, Sustainability Services, PwC Germany

Tel: +49 175 6171254