Experiences in digital era will guide them in climate transformation, says Danielle Ullner, Managing Director and Partner at BCG Digital Ventures in London.
When BCG Digital Ventures was founded seven years ago, “digital” was still a daunting term for many corporate leaders. They had little concrete idea what digitalising their operations or launching entirely new digital businesses would entail. Executives today face the same challenge with environmental sustainability – and many are asking the same question: “Where do I start?” Luckily, they can turn to their CTOs, CIOs and CDOs, who served as corporate stewards into the digital age. These roles have given tech leaders the experience to approach climate transformation and innovation with wisdom and confidence.
Just like going digital, “green” venture building is not for the faint of heart. Tech leaders know from digital that technology used to harness opportunities must be tightly linked to corporate strategy, aims and talent. They know from experience with digital that failure rates are high if those elements are not tightly intertwined. They know the importance of modular technology that can rapidly adapt with business requirements. And they have already developed modern data platforms that are fit for purpose.
Cohesion is crucial because companies are in for yet another period of disruption. After years of digital up-ending the established business models, climate transformation will see low-carbon business models emerge.
Unlike in digital, lone, maverick businesses may find it challenging to go at it alone but may benefit from partnerships. That may include traditional rivals. Long-established competitors could become indispensable allies.
Climate disruption will be premised on co-operation and eco-systems. The search for green growth will leverage many existing assets. The digital era spawned the start-up, however the climate transformation gives the corporation chance of success. A fossil-fuel burning utility has talented engineers, customer support and regulatory experts crucial for selling electricity made from sun or wind or water. Established customer bases and proven routes to market enable incumbents to rapidly test new ideas. Corporates have huge and ever-increasing troves of data that tech leaders have made accessible by prising them from old IT systems. To make change happen, Green Ventures also intends to work with innovators and the most ambitious start-ups and funds to help them accelerate and scale net zero solutions.
Steel, cement, and chemical industries are hard to decarbonise. But they are not short of other assets useful for low-carbon alternatives. Companies are at different points along this road. Organisations have some of the strongest capabilities, while tech leaders have the experience to steer transformations. Like the digital era, climate transformation is no longer optional. Yet, we know that 70 percent of digital transformations failed – and we can’t afford making that mistake with climate innovation.