discussion / Community Base  / 29 August 2016

Digital + core business = biodiversity or ecosystem benefits?

I'm doing some research for an article I'm co-authoring and was wondering if anyone knows of cases where a company has used digital technology to both fundamentally change their business model AND reduce their biodiversity/ecosystem impact?

So far, I've seen digital technology being leveraged for conservation purposes in mostly a CSR (corporate social responsibility) capacity. That is, by lending considerable expertise (and, no doubt, funds) to support the development of environmental solutions, through projects that sit outside of/in parallel with the company's core operations. E.g. IBM & Marwell Wildlife's predictive analytics software, HP & Conservation International's Earth Insights platform, Microsoft and UNEP-WCMC's Madingley Model, Google-Oceana-SkyTruth's Global Fishing Watch, etc. Certainly no small feats! In each of these cases, the company in question contributed significant resources in order to achieve previously unattainable environmental results. What I am interested in, however, are cases in which the use of digital technology has changed the internal fabric of a company, ie. the very way that it runs its business or produces/delivers its products and services.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are lots of examples of companies making fundamental changes to benefit biodiversity/ecosystems - but through non-digital means (e.g. instead achieving this through product re-design, waste disposal practices, sourcing policies, etc.). I'm thinking of Interface creating carpets from discarded fishing nets, Steelcase developing cradle-to-cradle products, and IKEA's commitment to source 100% FSC-certified wood. In each of these cases, the focus on environment has led to a change in the way the company runs - and in some cases, even increased its revenues - all the while contributing to the preservation of natural resources. But they do not employ digital technologies.

So does anyone in the Wildlabs community know of cases where digital technology has led companies to innovate the way they work, while achieving better results for biodiversity/ecosystems? Could be from any sector, for any species, at any scale. Examples could include: deployment of digital technologies to reduce material consumption, invention and sale of new software products resulting from biodiversity-centric projects, etc. Any and all leads will be massively appreciated!

Thanks in advance!