Skip to main content

What does the following have in common?

  1. Marine energy and enhanced geothermal energy in the energy sector
  2. Virtual sampling, 3-D mobile body scanning and fashion on demand in the fashion industry
  3. Unmanned robots and drones in the logistics industry
    They all are examples of emerging technologies that are helping their respective industries in building sustainability into the system. Some of these technologies are helping industries come up with more sustainable products like alternative renewable energy sources in the energy sector and some more are helping industries in reducing the waste that’s a product of the operation like the fashion industry.
  4. Whatever be the case, there are definite signs that we are heading towards a more sustainable future and technology is fueling that move. Our post today is centered around 4 pivotal areas: 1. The need of sustainability, 2. Ways in which emerging technologies help in creating a sustainable environment (product, processes or byproduct),
  5. Some novel ways of identifying an emerging technology that may change the game for the industries
  6. The expectations that an organization needs to manage that comes with sustainable products
    armed with emerging technologies.
  7. Need for sustainability
    Energy and matter are interconvertible – a fact Einstein stated long ago. This relation has been the basis of our species creating so many different kinds of matter in the form of products since the dawn of industrial age. Our expansion knew no limits.
    What this also meant was the pilling up of a lot of waste, with little to no accountability from the
    creators and users of it. This started a chain reaction wherein we not only started polluting our own
    ecosystem and affecting the other species but also making this planet as uninhabitable as possible. Only recently has it started to haunt us back in the form of climate change, extinction of flora and fauna, rising water levels, pilling up on waste on sea beds etc.
    We woke up to realise what a mess we had been creating, in the name of development and it was time we shifted gears. Hence the change in mindset towards reducing the waste to a more bearable level, creating products that are more sustainable. Sustainability has not just been limited to products, organizations have also started modifying the creation process looking for more environment friendly options (both in raw material and operational processes), reducing the by-products or using them in other industries.
    Diagram – ways of sustainability
    The result has been a renewed focus on building a sustainable future for mankind. This has also led to adoption of sustainable practices by different industries at different scales. As per a CGS 2019 survey of more than 1000 American consumers revealed their increased preference for sustainable products that creates the much needed feedback loop for industries to have sustainability as the core of their business strategies.

Ways in which Emerging Technologies help in creating a sustainable environment

  1. Emerging technologies help facilitate circular economy, (term introduced by noted American
    Economist, Kenneth E. Boulding in his book, The Economics of Natural resources). This refers to
    reuse and recycling of products to minimize waste and reduce the need of new set of raw
    materials. Such an economic system is autonomous, sustainable and reduces waste and
    environmental pollution. IoT is one such technology that helps industries with abundant data on
    the usability of different components in smart devices which can then be used to reuse or
    recycle them.
  2. Emerging technologies help discover newer and more sustainable sources of energy. Cellulosic
    ethanol, artificial photosynthesis and concentrated solar photovoltaics could be the game
    changers of tomorrow.
  3. They have the capability to create products of the next level – products that would address
    undiscovered consumer needs.
  4. Emerging technologies help businesses come up with more efficient processes reducing
    operational waste, resources and shortening the time taken to create products. Energy efficient
    devices installed in offices, sustainable packaging materials used to package products (like
    plantable boxes), unmanned drones for delivery of products etc

Managing expectations from a sustainable product or practice that comes armed with an emerging
technology Progress towards sustainable products using emerging technologies is not without its own set of expectations to manage and moderate. While some of them provide users with a lot of autonomy and manufacturers with the kick of building something absolutely delightful but there are a lot of other
aspects of such technologies that remains the unsolved piece of the puzzle.

  1. More self-service based customer offerings that are engineered with heavy automation –
    These offerings are easy to use, have minimal features and save customers a lot of time and
    resources. Online banking systems, self service kiosks, ATMs are some of the excellent
    examples. The only issue with such a service is the security threat that they pose. Companies
    developing and employing such solutions need to be very alert and agile to thwart any security
    attack on the customer’s data or any other important aspect of such a service.
  2. Increased interest in adoption of AI/ML in products – Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning
    come with a huge advantage of computing large amount of data and discovering excellent
    insights for users. Going forward, more and more products would be Ai/ML enabled which
    means organizations would be equipped with a lot more data and might need support systems
    to manage and make sense of this huge deluge of information.
  3. The data explosion – If there is one concern that is common to every emerging technology, then
    it is the vast amount of data that it gathers and processes to bring up interesting and unique
    insights. The only issue with so much of data is that a lot of times, organizations do not know or
    are ignorant about their potential power. That is when you need a support to help you unearth
    the significance of this data and its importance in helping you create a superior experience for
    your consumer.

Emerging technologies have not only been helpful in making sustainable living a reality but as they
advance, we can see that they are opening a world of opportunities for industries to explore and
prosper further. It’s time to study these opportunities in detail and see which of these make sense to
your organization. With a decade of experience in discovering insights for our clients, we understand
how important it is for you to dig deeper into them and take control over their ever increasing potential.
How far have you been able to unearth what these technologies can do in your journey towards a
sustainable tomorrow?

7 Emerging Technologies for Sustainable Fashion Production (
Emerging renewable and sustainable energy technologies: State of the art – ScienceDirect
Emerging Technologies and the Future of the Logistics Industry – Hidden Brains Blog