The sustainability journey must begin with revenue, cost, brand and risk

Finally an article that looks beyond technical options, referring to a study conducted with 30 North American supply chain executives – whatever that means. Anyway. Well, they ranked “sustainability” as “important” but “not critical” to their company strategies. Isn’t that a bit like the saying “pls wash me, but don’t make me wet”?
The author Susan McNally describes “revenue, cost, brand and risk” as the 4 “horsemen” that help understand, what inhibits the leap to “critical”.

The reason why I mention this article is that it can be transferred to the hurdles we see in the conceptual leap for smart cities. Being a smart city or a technical provider with holistic solutions is – of course – important, due to all the facts on demographic change, fast urbanization, critical (!) resource management…. but it is “not critical” for our current (!) business. Nice to talk about it, but let others do the first step šŸ˜‰

A propos “step”…. McNally thinks of 5 reasons why the conceptual leap of sustainability is limping and i feel free to transfer these to smart cities:

Environmental and social ambitions must match corporate financial objectives.
Same applies for SC activity: It is worth evaluating the smart city solution mid-/longterm even though the next election period is in sight and a “ribbon-cutting” moment (as a result of an optimized subsystem solution) is ravishing.

There are 2 types of organizations: Real strategists and operational piecemealists. While the ones fly quite high and often struggle to deliver sustainable value on the ground the others keep ploughing the ground.* Again transfer to SC: So far there is a lot of piecemeal out there. Pilots to gather experience but – at least to my knowledge – no scaleable concept. Give me a shout, when you know any different!

Competitor analyses – well actually i thought this is a no-brainer… But as McNally mentions it in her article her studies seem to tell a different story.
What I discovered on conferences on SC topic is that the exchange on municipal level, the collaboration and joint approaches start building…. it is still a “young” market and all stakeholders need to get confident in and with it.

“…stitching sustainability into the everyday business of profit and loss….”
Looking at SC stakeholders and their business models, sustainable solutions mustn’t be an add-on. Pilots should be developed to the intrinsic structure of the city or company – otherwise the pilot-project remains a “nice try”.

“…game plan looks… at existing processes such as product design, procurement, supply chain planning and logistics, and identify the heat map of where sustainability must be injected into the decision process and what sort of leadership is needed to see the game plan through….”
Within the complex system of SC solutions that is probably a challenge. And it definitely makes a difference on how mature a city is regarding infrastructure and ICT as well as the municipal structures it is based on. However – this fifth aspect is vital.

No rocket science really, all common sense. As all good things come out on top one day i am positive that cities set up their smart agendas, convinced that it is “critical”.


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