IBM: Supply Chain Data is Sustainability 'Blockage'

IBM study highlights sustainability disconnect between intention and impact, with 76% of execs agreeing it's crucial but just 30% making much progress

Fewer than half of organisations are able to source supply chain data from their core systems, new research from IBM shows.

The IBM study, ‘Beyond checking the box’, highlights the disconnect on sustainability between intention and impact. While 76% of executives agree it is central to their business, just 30% are making significant progress in executing their sustainability strategy.

Furthermore, although 82% of respondents agree high-quality data and transparency are necessary to achieve sustainability outcomes, just 40% say they can automatically source sustainability data from any of the core systems including enterprise resource planning solutions around supply chain.

The study has feedback from 5,000 global C-suite executives across 22 industries and countries on progress being made in sustainability investment, and how organisations are unlocking greater profitability through approaching sustainability.

The study suggests it’s not enough for organisations to simply ‘check the box’ on sustainability initiatives, but rather they need to adopt “a more intentional and strategic approach that integrates sustainability into the core of their operations”.

IBM supply chain sustainability key findings:

  • Almost half (47%) of executives surveyed struggle to fund sustainability investments.
  • Six in 10 say they have to make trade-offs between financial and sustainability outcomes.
  • Spending on sustainability reporting exceeds spending on sustainability innovation by 43%.
  • Organisations that embed sustainability are 75% more likely to attribute greater improvement in revenue from their sustainability efforts; these organisations are also 52% more likely to outperform their peers on profitability.
  • 64% of executives surveyed agree that generative AI will be important for their sustainability efforts. 
  • operational improvements to a great extent, while 14% say they do so with innovation initiatives.

“An organisation's approach to sustainability may be holding it back. There is no quick fix. Sustainability requires intentionality and a shared corporate vision,” says Oday Abbosh, IBM Global Managing Partner, Sustainability Services. 

He adds: “Sustainability needs to be part of the day-to-day operations, not viewed only as a compliance task or reporting exercise. 

“By embedding sustainability across their business, organisations are more likely to drive internal innovation, attract and retain skilled talent, and be better positioned to deliver both positive environmental impact and financial outcomes.”


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