July 21, 2011 – When it comes to improving financial and operational corporate performance, sustainability is going to play a growing role, according to Gartner, Inc. research.

Tangible sustainability benefits for business are achieved through optimizing natural resources, minimizing waste and emissions, and exploiting the increasing fiscal incentives and tax breaks such as for energy efficiency.

By tapping the emerging market tools of a “low-carbon economy,” businesses can take advantage of sustainability practices for financial and operational gains, says Gartner.

Current practices include use of remote-collaboration tools and increased building utilization and efficiency, workplace management and remote working.

However, increasingly IT is being employed for efficiencies in more sophisticated and complex situations, including manufacturing process re-engineering, real-time automation and control in production environments, real-time route optimization for vehicles, natural resource management and optimization, supply chain management and business analytics.

Gartner predicts sustainability’s value to become of greater relevance due to a maturing set of information systems and decision support tools used by the CFO and finance. According to the Gartner research, by 2015, for 60 percent of major Western European and North American CEOs, improving sustainability-related performance will become a top-five priority.

Sustainability programs for finance have not gained traction thus far due to what Simon Mingay, research vice president at Gartner, says is a “lack of frameworks, systems and tools” developed to reveal sustainability-related performance data. Information-enabled processes and technologies will be key to providing decision support as well as to connect sustainability performance to financial performance.

"Although many CFOs have historically been skeptical of the financial or business enablement value of sustainability, volatile and escalating resource costs – most notably, energy costs – along with changing customer, consumer and investor expectations in many developed economies, are changing the value equation,” Mingay was quoted to say in the release.

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