Forrester on the State of Environmental Sustainability: Manufacturing is Transforming

Gary Cassell, Global Manufacturing and Automotive Industry Lead, Appian
September 10, 2021

Sustainability has rapidly become front and center for companies in virtually all industries, including manufacturing. Regulatory pressures, climate conditions, and heightened consumer and investor awareness are creating new urgency for manufacturers to not only focus more on sustainability initiatives, but to ensure long-term and measurable change.

A recent Forrester report details key components of this growing emphasis on sustainability:

  • Corporate leaders are placing more emphasis on their sustainability initiatives as investors are shifting efforts to fund more innovation in this area. To achieve success in their sustainability goals, organizations will need to approach this as a company-wide program with dedicated leadership, strategy, policy, targets, accountability, and transparency.
  • Consumers are also demanding more accountability and visibility from corporations in this area, and are more often choosing brands with clear sustainability initiatives in place. Organizations that are undergoing a sustainability transformation today are better fit to meet customer demand going forward.
  • Stakeholders now expect a strong commitment to sustainability, integrating companies’ environmental, social, and governance (ESG) ratings into their evaluations. Investors are now looking for clear sustainability goals as well as a plan to execute on these initiatives before they will invest.

From changing consumer sentiments, to growing investor demands, and new competitive pressures across the market, organizations must shift their approach and quickly tailor operations to meet their commitments to environmental sustainability. 

Manufacturing’s Role and Supply Chain Sustainability

“As the world transitions to a low-carbon economy, firms across the manufacturing industry are under significant pressure to transition to renewable energy, decarbonize, and embrace the circular product and service economy.” - Forrester

Most manufacturers are taking a look at their supply chains as a core area for improvement in the move toward sustainable operations. While sustainability is top of mind in most manufacturers’ mission or purpose statement, few have the visibility and processes in place across the supply chain to achieve these goals today. 

“The expectations of stakeholder groups for supply chain sustainability strategy have transformed in the last 10 years, with increased demands for transparency and action.” -Gartner for Supply Chain, 3 Sustainability Trends Shaping Supply Chains in 2021

On top of the demand for more sustainable practices, having a sustainable supply chain is also a competitive differentiator, and good sustainability practices reduce risk overall.

Incremental Steps toward a Sustainable Future

While there is no one easy way to tackle the move toward sustainability, the Forrester report advises looking for ways to make incremental changes that help reduce waste and boost efficiencies.

The Appian Low-code Automation Platform enables the capabilities and information access that companies need in order to make the best short and long-term sustainability decisions:

  • Real-time visibility across the supply chain enabling predictive problem-spotting and solving.
  • A unified view of company data to identify ESG ratings, understand performance & improvement areas, and enhance auditability.
  • Monitoring and report-generation for regulatory bodies, investors, risk management teams, and other stakeholders
  • Horizon scanning and project management capabilities to track each area of ESG, and plan related projects and action areas needed to improve results
  • RPA and IDP capabilities for data extraction from existing systems and reports 

To learn more about the current state of sustainability across industries, as well as what organizations can do to respond and adapt, read the report.