Digital transformation is a challenge that can help SMEs achieve their goals. But it is essential that it is done in an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly way.
European funds and their application in Spain seek to promote a double transition, green and digital. The digitalization of companies can in itself represent a challenge for sustainability, and therefore attention must be paid to its applicability, and it must be done in such a way that energy efficiency and the lowest environmental impact are sought (Green IT). In turn, new technologies can be a lever for change to find more sustainable business solutions that reduce pollution (Green Tech).
The two concepts are closely related, but Green IT refers to going digital in a sustainable way and Green Tech is a broader term that encompasses the use of all kinds of innovative technologies to create products, services and processes that help mitigate negative impacts on the environment.
The main applications of Green IT are:
- Cloud Computing (or cloud technology), i.e. accessing software (computer programs) through the internet directly, instead of having them installed on the computer.
- Choosing energy-efficient and energy-saving technology equipment.
- 5G network to obtain lower electricity consumption.
- Mobile devices with Green materials.
- Use of communication technologies (such as video calls) to avoid long travel times.
- Consumption monitoring and data analysis for sustainability.
- Reduction of paper use and ink/print consumption.
- Technological recycling and reuse of components.
- Sustainable software development, following good practice guidelines to reduce pollution.
The main technologies that can be used in the context of Green Tech are:
- Internet of Things (IoT) the internet of things, i.e. "things" connected by sensors, which can be used to optimise electricity use, in precision agriculture or for waste management.
- 3D printing which allows for lower energy consumption in manufacturing, with lighter parts, local production and no stock.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Green AI applying AI for sustainable uses, thanks to large-scale data processing for the optimisation of resources, connecting its use with the rest of technologies.
- Digital Twins which is a virtual representation of a physical product, and is used to simulate products and test them in the digital sphere before launching them on the market.
- Blockchain which is the electronic recording of transactions during a value chain to calculate and record the carbon footprint, which allows the traceability of products to be controlled and improved.
- Renewable energy which can be purchased or consumed, for example with solar panels or electric vehicles.
The main advantages of sustainable digital transformation are:
- Sustainability contributing to a global goal.
- Long-term cost reduction by achieving greater energy efficiency and optimisation of resources.
- An improvement in reputation as the "eco-friendly" label represents added value.
- Business opportunities as Green Tech is a growing niche market.
There are many SMEs and startups that apply technology with a sustainable use and here are some examples of success stories in Spain:
Exxita: it oversees repairing technology and combating programmed obsolescence.
Designable: they create 100% electric buildings without pollution.
Nax Solutions: with AI solutions for precision agriculture.
Liq: using 3D printing for sustainable glasses.
In short, SMEs and startups can contribute to sustainable development with good practices in their digitalisation (Green IT) and they can also open up a powerful market in which to invest, that of innovation and cutting-edge technology for sustainable solutions that make efficient use of resources (Green Tech).