pillars of sustainability

The Internet of Things is a pretty hot topic these days, for a variety of reasons. First, the internet favors IoT, especially in light of the online trend that has spiked in the past year and a half. Also, there seems to be an endless supply of new ways to put the internet to work on behalf of us all, whether for a corporation, a small business, a supply chain, or an individual. But, do you know about the pillars of sustainability?

Every IoT Business Should Know About the Pillars of Sustainability

The three pillars of sustainability — economic, social, and environmental sustainability, (aka profit, people, and planet) — outlines the goals which companies seek. Thus, truly sustainable business models are built on all three pillars, rather than just one or two.

The more a business employs practices that use all three, the more it reaps benefits and progress.

The pillars of sustainability are like taking care of your health on multiple levels. If you eat well, exercise, and go to a doctor for regular checkups, life will work out better for you than if you do just one of those things.

Sustainability is important for businesses that employ IoT since it evidently isn’t going anywhere. 

There were almost 9 billion IoT devices worldwide in 2020, and that number will rise to more than 25 billion in just ten years. A variety of companies are already using IoT devices, but there are plenty of projected uses for the future. And for a company that wants to thrive and grow, the future involves sustainability.

Environmental Expansion

Of the three pillars of sustainability, environmental expansion is perhaps the most currently discussed, especially related to IoT. 

Global warming and the rise of natural disasters draw more attention in the news, one can expect the environmental impact of businesses will be subjected to public scrutiny. The good news is that IoT can be part of your business practices in a way that reduces footprints and contributes to a sustainable cycle.

For example, Rami Avidan, the managing director of Deutsche Telekom IoT GmbH, pointed out how the ever-rising food services industry — including supermarkets and cargo companies — would benefit from increased use of IoT to control temperature during transportation and storage, pinpoint location, and send information about the condition of the products. This one process would help at least a 7% drop in food waste. Why not do it?

That may not sound like a lot at first. However, over time, it would add up considerably. Not to mention that advancing IoT technologies and information sharing could continue to cause the number to rise.

Either way, customers like companies that can honestly claim a reduced environmental footprint. This means that IoT not only saves money for companies, it also provides a great basis for marketing.

With that saved money and free marketing, businesses can reinvest and continue growing while being part of the sustainability cycle.

Whether it’s a question of using IoT to help predict the best way and limiting the fuel used for company vehicles or freight; leveraging IoT to maximize tech use, or recycling used computers to boost your company’s sustainable reputation further, IoT can be adapted to make your business more sustainable at every level.

Economic Impact With IoT

The economic impact of adopting IoT is probably first on the list for most businesses. Business owners and managers are always searching for ways to reduce their overhead and maximize profits — that’s just good business.

What do IoT businesses need to know about this sustainable economy pillar? And why is it important?

Economic Impact of IoT

The economic impact of IoT is made up of a combination of minimizing outgo, maximizing information resources, and creating additional income streams. How businesses achieve goals depends on the individual enterprise and how IoT integrates their practices.

For example, in a subscription-based business model, instead of offering a one-time sale to a customer, the company offers a discount based on a monthly or yearly subscription. Thus, the longer your customer is willing to remain with your company, the better it is for both of you.

IoT for Meaningful Data Sustainability

Incorporating IoT data in your business model gives you deeper, more meaningful interaction with your customers. This means that you can offer services based on their needs, which boosts the likelihood of continuing to stay a customer. That’s one way that IoT can help grow revenue for a brand.

Another example involves saving money based on utilization of asset tracking, management, and conservation of employee hours. Again, Amazon is a notable example of this.

With the sheer number of warehouses and products that the retail giant has to keep track of and ship out, doing it all by workforce alone would be a significant expense. Amazon uses WIFI-enabled robots to select products and ship them out, incorporating QR codes to ensure correct fulfillment.

The massive database that Amazon maintains would be impossible to tract without IoT. In addition, IoT makes it possible for retailers like Amazon to sustain their rapid and accurate shipping and lower their overhead for employee hours.

Socially Sustainable IoT Business Practices

Bringing people into the mix can get messy for any business. Yet, people are a vital component and the mainstay of the second of the three pillars of sustainability.

Why IoT Need People

Why would IoT companies need to be concerned about the people involved? IoT is tech-based, right? The point is to automate information gathering and projections, not turn the data over to humans to collate.

But businesses don’t sell to tech — they sell to people. And in order to create a sustainable business, the audience has to be part of the equation.

Why IoT Needs to be Socially Sustainable

IoT is hugely useful for informing businesses of the target audience’s needs, desires, and goals. Not only for informational purposes of what products could fill a niche but also for elevating existing products themselves.

For example, responsive smart home features that accurately learn and predict the preferences of the homeowner. The better the IoT tech works, the more responsive the smart home device is, and the happier the individual. This all cycles back to better reviews, which translates to more customers. Sustainability is a cycle. Any business needs to remember that their actions now will impact the results they have later.

The man who coined the term “Internet of Things,” Kevin Ashton, pointed out how important the “people” pillar of sustainability is — it’s integral to the whole IoT ideal. In short, the IoT is about integrating the interconnectedness of human culture, our “things,” with our digital information system — the “internet.”

It’s impossible to discount the social sustainability principle. This is because IoT requires an audience from which to draw information. Not to mention that, without social sustainability, IoT becomes almost pointless.

Building for the Future With Sustainable IoT

There’s no limit to how sustainable we can get, and it’s impossible to arbitrarily declare a cut-off point. That’s it; we don’t need to think about sustainability anymore; we’ve done enough.

New companies will continue to launch;

Existing companies will continue to evolve; and

Technology, to better serve both of them, will always be on the horizon.

IoT technology is just one way to help companies to adapt and thrive. Within that concept are a million smaller applications, any one of which could make a difference to your company.

Image Credit: sergio souza; pexels; thank you!

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