Posted: 16 Dec. 2022 5 minutes Tempo di lettura

Sensing the way towards Digital Circularity

Deloitte latest Foresight project provides an innovative perspective on digital business behaviour, combining innovation, green economy and corporate sustainability.

Today more than ever, we need to pay attention to the environmental and societal impact of our actions, both as citizens within our own homes, and as leaders within our businesses. In this regard, Environmental and Social Governance (ESG) has gained greater reputation among investors, policymakers, and other key stakeholders as a useful framework to orientate companies in the journey towards sustainability through innovation.

Getting there brings about momentous decisions for companies. In the future, it will not be enough for businesses to just do different – they will need to be different. And it was that premise that inspired the Strategic Foresight team to consider a new way of framing these challenges, looking not just at the ultimate goal of sustainability, but at the key business practice that will unlock reaching it: responsible business behaviour.

The Strategic Foresight team looked at seven different cross-validated areas (PESTLE trends, Consumer & Cultural Trends, Regulatory trends, start-up and technology trends, internal and external expert interviews) to define the future of responsible corporate behaviour, scanning for individual signals of change and bigger innovation patterns and trends. The result was a framework that captured the evolving Future Codes of Responsible Business Behaviour in terms of corporate duty, culture, governance&strategy, and operations.

This roadmap was used to think boldly and differently about the challenges our clients will face and how we might more holistically support them over the coming decade, capitalizing on our expertise around innovation, digitization and technology. These forces, and the way they intertwine, can really make an impact on the attitude of companies towards sustainability.

That’s why, through interactive, ideation workshops, Deloitte has identified ‘Digital Circularity’ - i.e. the application of the circular economy framework to a company’s digital ecosystem, and, more generally, to the production and commercialization of digital products - as a symbol of corporate responsibility, and one of the most promising white spaces where to investigate innovative solutions against climate change.

Digital technology can indeed accelerate, simplify, and improve our transition to greener economies and healthier lifestyles, acting as a catalyst for responsible business improvement and green compliance. However, it can also produce negative spillovers on the environment: digital activity, in fact, accounts for up to 4% of global carbon emissions and is predicted to reach 8% by 2030, when it will pollute just as much as cars do today. For instance, 2 hours of virtual meetings every day for a year produce the same amount of CO2 as 3000 miles driven by car. Even dormant digital pollution, as in the case of current global e-mail storage, requires enormous amounts of energy resources, equal to that of five nuclear plants, and it is only going to increase: storage sizing and new data generation rates are doubling each year, preparing the ground for a true data explosion. The digital transition can really act as a powerful climate change mitigator, but it needs to be undertaken consciously.

Hence, as part of the responsible company’s innovation strategy, it has become pivotal to adopt a new perspective on Information Communication Technology, that takes into account its carbon footprint and overall impacts on the environment. Is it possible to ‘recycle’ digital assets? How can we avoid wasting the efforts of developing software? What is our clients’ expertise in terms of Green IT? Can digital recycling improve our client’s attitude towards sustainability? These, among others, were the questions uncovered by the Strategic Foresight team and that are now being further investigated in by the Venture Design team. After weeks of cross-disciplinary workshops aimed at mapping the most relevant technologies, identifying the right partners and channels, and developing feasibility studies, the Venture Design team is now working on a proof of concept, that will eventually result in a proposition around Digital Circularity.

Tackling innovation and sustainability issues is a battle on many fronts, which can sometimes turn challenging. Approaches to future and present challenges shall include holistic, long-term perspectives. Deloitte is committed to supporting clients in reframing present and future objectives, while developing more comprehensive and innovative solutions for the prosperity of our planet, people, and clients. By combining sustainability and technology with responsible behavior, we can uncover incredible opportunities, and support companies in their journey towards a green sustainable transition, powered by innovation. In this regard, Digital Circularity opens unprecedented possibilities to address sustainable innovation, the magnitude of which is yet to be fully assessed. It represents in fact one of the most promising areas of ESG applications, one where immediate action is necessary. Deloitte stands with its clients at the forefront of this unprecedented frontier – and is ready to take up the green digital innovation challenge.

About the author

Andrea Poggi

Andrea Poggi

Innovation Leader DCM and Head of Deloitte delegation at B7

Andrea Poggi is Global Lead Client Service Partner and Deloitte Central Mediterranean (DCM) Deputy CEO. He leads the DCM Innovation practice, which he founded in 2014, and he’s CEO of Officine Innovazione, the first Deloitte’s specialized advisory firm on Innovation Management and Open Innovation, which he founded in 2018. From 2015 to 2023 Andrea has been the DCM Client&Industry (C&I) Leader, which he led to a double-digit growth and to establish key strategic partnerships and sponsorship agreement. In 2024 Andrea has been appointed Head of Deloitte Delegation as only Knowledge Partner of Confindustria, which leads, under the chairwomanship of Emma Marcegaglia, the B7, the main G7 engagement group, which aims to represent the business community of the seven most economically advanced Countries on the planet. Within Deloitte North & South Europe (NSE), Andrea led from 2019 to 2023 the NSE Innovation practice, during which he has built and driven a common innovation program across 26 GEOs, 5 Businesses and 6 Industries, achieving an outstanding growth. He has also acted, from 2022 to 2023, as Managing Partner for NSE Growth. During his NSE tenures, Andrea has been part of NSE exec, of the Global C&I Exec and of the Global Strategy & Innovation Exec. He laid the foundations in 2012 for the development of Monitor, strategy advisory boutique, arm of Deloitte in Italy, with a focus on Corporate and Organizational Strategy, Business Plan, Marketing and M&A. During his advisory carrier, he specialized in the Financial and Insurance services sectors. With almost 30 years of managerial experience in strategy consulting, innovation and market development, and having authored several publications, Andrea is a thought leader, actively involved in business community events. Andrea has been University professor of Business Organization and has performed as speaker and subject matters expert in multiple highly-recognized events and seminars.