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“IT solutions are integral for our smart building designs at Infosys"

In a conversation with Sustainability Outlook, Mr. Ramdas Kamath, Executive Vice President, Head - Facilities, Administration, Security and Sustainability, Infosys shares his thoughts on the role IT and ITES can play for catalyzing resource management in the Indian industry. He also shares the sustainability strategy of Infosys and the key efforts being undertaken in supporting the Smart Cities vision of the Indian government. 

As an Industry captain, what is your take on the slew of resource oriented sustainability measures being unveiled by the Govt.? What role do you foresee for enterprises in the IT and ITES domain catalyzing resource management within the Indian industry?

It is laudable that the Indian government has taken several initiatives aimed at ensuring sustainable development. In the government’s annual Indian Economic Survey, 2011-2012, a chapter on sustainable development and climate change was introduced for the very first time, thus showcasing the importance of sustainability. One of the suggestions that were a result of the survey was making lowercarbon sustainable growth a central element of India's 12th Five Year Plan, which commenced in April 2012.

This plan has set the tone for future policy initiatives and regulatory measures that the Indian government will drive towards the implementation of various technologies such as advanced metering infrastructure, carbon capture and sequestration, intelligent transportation system, solar energy technology, building integrated PV systems, eco-labels and footprints, combined heat and power technology, e-waste, distributed power generation, and water management – that are necessary to usher in low-carbon sustainable growth.

According to Hype Cycle for Green IT and Sustainability in India 2014 Gartner report, India’s spending on green IT and sustainability initiatives reached $34 billion in 2014, a 14.1 percent increase from $29.2 billion that was spent in 2013. This is reflective of the way the industry has begun to move beyond sustainability as a part of its corporate social responsibility, and is integrating green and sustainability-related initiatives into core business operations. 

It is heartening to note that most Indian companies have at least one green initiative, motivated by the prospect of lower operating costs. The IT sector where energy and water costs account for a significant portion of operating costs has increased its focus on renewable energy. As per a Mckinsey report, two third of the buildings that will exist in 2030 in India are yet to be built. If smart IT is used for every phase of the construction of these buildings, we can save up to 45,000 MW of power.

What has been the business case for sustainability in Infosys and how does the organization view and embed sustainability in its corporate strategy and business processes? What timeframe and coverage of activities is integral to delivering success on this front?

At an organizational level, Infosys has set sustainability goals based on economic, environmental and social parameters which are a part of our corporate scorecard. These goals are further cascaded to leaders of business units and enabler functions with the requisite authority to execute them. On the environmental front, the goals link directly to urgent needs such as reduction in electricity and water consumption, waste segregation and enhanced focus on renewable energy. 

A key aspect has been monitoring the sustainability goals on a regular basis. We also engage with various national and international bodies and organizations to influence and lead transformation not just in India, but globally as well. We also review progress on material aspects concerning stakeholders on a regular basis which is then communicated through appropriate channels.

What are some of the long term sustainability related focus areas for Infosys?

For us, sustainability has been at the core of our business philosophy - predictability, sustainability, profitability and de-risking (PSPD).

We have identified three areas to focus on: Green Innovation, Social Contract and Resource Intensity. This ensures a complete 360 degree approach to sustainability. Green Innovation focuses on client outreach and comprises of initiatives and innovations towards sustainable business benefits.

Social Contract is for enabling community outreach and includes initiatives based on industry-academia partnerships and employee engagement. Resource Intensity is to facilitate responsible consumption and encourage cost saving, conservation and replenishment.

Infosys has been engaged in conversations with the government on ‘smart cities’; in which ways do you think technology can be leveraged to create ‘sustainable’ cities in the Indian context? What efforts are being undertaken by Infosys in this arena?

It is essential to have a robust IT architecture to develop smart cities. This architecture should comprise of dimensions in various segments such as transportation, road, logistics and other sectoral hubs to create employment.

Few examples of smart city would be a smart building modelling technology, smart traffic management tools, e-governance modules, integrated building management tools, efficient resource management systems, smart grids, technologies on pollution watch/control, smart work management systems, e-commerce and smart stores, mobile technology solutions, virtual business centres. At Infosys, we have implemented IT solutions for smart building design, integrated BMS, monitoring system for resources, smart transport management systems etc. In addition to this, our 354 acre Mysore campus is being developed as a model smart city.

How can businesses leverage sustainability as a brand differentiator to enhance their image?

Sustainability today helps a brand increase its value and act as a differentiator. It establishes the brand’s association with the environment, social causes as well as corporate governance.
Therefore, it is expected that a company’s initiatives will benefit the environment and the society at large and also create goodwill for the company among all its stakeholders.

Brands can leverage sustainability by being ahead of the market and creating products and services that will encourage them to live in a more sustainable manner. Therefore, the main focus of the company should be to make sustainability’ and ‘green’ a part of the DNA of the enterprise.

Companies need to assess the current perception of their brand as well as the relevance of sustainable issues to their business. Furthermore, they can then analyses the upsides of investing in sustainability projects and the reputation risk of not doing so.

What are the key ingredients for framing the business case and getting approval for embedding sustainability oriented investments within the Indian business context?

With time, corporate sustainability has become part of mainstream business and is getting embedded in the actual operations of companies. Investors are increasingly putting money in socially responsible investments. Therefore, it is essential to have a strategy which incorporates a sustainability philosophy. To embed sustainability in business as part of the existing operations, a few key ingredients would be:

  • Complying with government regulations
  • Getting access to capital through public disclosures on sustainability performance which are utilized by analysts to benchmark historic performance or through leading banks and funding institutions
  • Furthermore, innovative products and services and efficient use of resources could also be other factors leading to sustainability oriented investments.
Author: sustainabilityoutlook
Country: India
Industry Term: Corporate Action sustainability