Executives plan to invest more in AI for sustainability: IBM study

Nearly two-thirds of top executives surveyed believe that generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be important in their sustainability efforts while 76 per cent of executives plan to increase their investment in this emerging technology for sustainability, a study by IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) said.

Generative AI can be a game changer for data-driven sustainability, enabling organisations to turn trade-offs into win-wins, identify improvement opportunities, and drive innovation at speed and scale, the study said.

While 63 per cent of executives surveyed agree that generative AI will be important for their sustainability efforts, 76 per cent say they plan to increase their investment in generative AI for sustainability.

“With AI reshaping industries, integrating sustainability into core business practices add to the long-term value creation. The commitment of businesses to invest in Gen AI for sustainability signals a promising move towards a greener, more prosperous future, said Sandip Patel, Managing Director, IBM India Private Limited.

Based on a survey of 5,000 C-suite executives across 22 industries and 22 countries including US, UK, and Japan, the study, Beyond Checking the Box, said if organisations flip the way they operationalise sustainability, they can significantly increase business value. The key is to embed sustainability throughout the business, truly bake it into operations, rather than treat it as an add-on, it said.

Organisations that embed sustainability spend slightly less on dedicated sustainability efforts as a share of their revenue compared to organisations that don’t embed.

“Organisations in India that embed sustainability are 41 per cent more likely to attribute great improvement in revenue from their sustainability efforts and are 90 per cent more likely to outperform their peers on profitability”.

It added that many organisations are approaching sustainability as an accounting or reporting exercise rather than a transformation play.

“Spending on sustainability reporting exceeds spending on sustainability innovation by 38 per cent in India.”

In India, 78 per cent of executives surveyed agree that sustainability drives better business results, and 68 per cent agree that sustainability is central to their business strategy. However, almost half (47 per cent) of Indian organisations still struggle to fund sustainability investments, the study noted.