Accelerating towards net-zero: How technology enables sustainability transformations

Accelerating towards net-zero:  How technology enables sustainability transformations

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Welcome everyone to By Thoughtworks 2022, and what a treat we have for kicking this series off. It's a thing we love to do, sharing Thoughtworkers ideas, what they're working on, what they care about. And today we're gonna talk about something that is pretty deeply ingrained in our values and in our organisation, and like a lot of client organisations and partners, we're struggling with how to integrate this theme into our work, into our clients, when on a daily basis sometimes there's contradictions and dissonance between being sustainable and a great citizen of the planet, and the work that we're asked to do. So we're working really hard at reconciling that into Thoughtworks as a company, part of our values. And it's a great pleasure for me today to introduce a new Thoughtworker, a new colleague, although, gosh, he's an old soul when it comes to the way Thoughtworks works.

He's fitted right in to the way we work. Andy Nolan, joined us as the Head of Emerging Technologies, which is our way of reconciling, and integrating this thinking into our work and into our DNA. As we have people caring about that and reminding the rest of us every day. So I'll get to introduce him. He's a great builder, he's a kind of fan of all sorts of emerging techs. He's new ways of thinking, you'll hear those today anyway.

But administration, welcome everyone. I do always love to, on behalf of Thoughtworks, acknowledge the people and the land that we're on. Now I'm broadcasting here from the Mouringuri people's country, Nevaseda. That's an awkward Australian question and answer sort of session to have.

It's sad in some ways that Australia's a little less further along the journey on that a bit of reconciliation, and the best we can do is acknowledge the contribution of that culture to our language, to our science, to everything we do, even though we meet here in cyberspace, it's really important that the elders, past, present, and emerging of the world we come from are acknowledged as well. You've got lots of tools today. Chat, that's great to chat amongst yourselves. Q&A, put your questions in there and I'll put them to Andy in the end if we've got the time. The rules are very simple at By Thoughtworks, don't do anything an Australian Federal politician would do, relatively straightforward rule. And then they're recording today, so if you wanna maintain your anonymity, that's an option on questions and things as well, but we don't see your face, so that's taken care of in the video.

That video is a thing to use later on to share with your friends. It'll come out to you after it's published on our ThoughtWorks website. And Grace will have the usual evaluation form at the end. "Oh no, not another evaluation form."

Yeah, we love them, that's part of our culture as well, feedback, genuinely as awkward and uncomfortable as it can be is incredibly useful. So let's get on with it. Andy joined us to really bring to the table paid full time, so committed, you know, the P&L of Thoughtworks is being impacted by his work in the field of sustainability. Hopefully a bit of both.

And I'm old enough to remember a time when we thought a thing called shareholder value was the way to drive our organisations and businesses. And shareholder value was an amazing thing, "Oh, if everyone acts like a shareholder, "the world will be a better place, "we'll have efficiency, and all those kind of things." It has since been realised to be the dumbest idea in the history of capitalism.

So we relegate that to history, what's took its place? Customer value became a tremendous, if you made things that suited customers, the world would be a better place, organisations would be balanced, we'd served and make the right things. And I think we are heading into an era now, I detect it, and I think Andy does too, where there's a new goal, and it's the value of sustainability. It's the value of our planet, it's the value of the very thing we are part of, our communities. And we trust Andy to lead us to a world where at Thoughtworks, that's an everyday part of our journey accordingly. So we're living these crazy sort of liminal times. And I don't know if you all saw the horrific the World Economic Forum Global Risk Report, January, about a month ago, come out 6 of the 10 giant risks over the next 10 years built around sustainability.

And when you realise how sustainability, environmental disasters, prey heavily on social disasters as well. It's the core of so many things, so let's have a listen to Andy's view take us through a journey thinking about what net zero could do, no more shareholder value, let's talk about the planet. And with that, over to you, Andy. - Thanks for that great introduction, Nigel, you're a hard act to follow.

Thanks everyone for joining the call today, hopefully you get something out of this and learn how you can start your sustainability journey. So Accelerating towards net zero, what does that actually mean? Well, you probably don't need me to describe to you the impact that climate change is having on the world and the risk that that poses in the future. We know that everyone is on a path to net zero, whether they know it or not, and particularly businesses, and those businesses really have a choice. They have a choice to decide to be leaders in their sustainability transformations, be followers, or to be dragged into a state of net emissions, net zero emissions. Let's start with some key stats around this, just to paint the picture.

And spoiler alert, it's not looking great. So around just over 50% of Australian businesses have actually announced an emissions reduction target. So they're indicating that one day in the future, they may, or hope to reduce their emissions. Only 36% of ASX200 companies have actually announced a net zero target. So 36% of businesses are planning in the future to reach a state of net zero emissions. The rest of the companies haven't actually announced anything yet.

So it's fair to say that there's a little bit of room for improvement there, and there's some issues around getting started. Well, one of the misconceptions that we hear from talking to customers and alike, is that there's this problem that you can either be sustainable, or you can be profitable, but you can't be both. I don't necessarily agree with that, and hopefully today through the stories that I tell you, about case studies, and tools and approaches, you can start to change your way of thinking and imagine a world where sustainability and profitability can coexist. 30% of Australian companies have announced emission reduction targets, but appear to be falling short on their ESG commitments. So ESG is this reporting mechanism that businesses use to indicate to investors and customers how they're tracking towards their goals. It's a little bit problematic that 30% of them are already falling short on these, and hopefully they can turn that around, and hopefully they can reach their targets as quickly as possible.

Let's start by painting a picture about sustainability and how that transformation can occur with inside an organisation. There's a few things that we can start with and these are the drivers for sustainability, and we call them the three Rs, risk, reputation, and reward. So risk is an obvious one, and we can think about the risk imposed to businesses from climate change. So the risk to their supply chain, or the way they operate the business itself. And we can just look at the pandemic that we're going through at the moment, and the disruption that that has caused to the supply chain, and the way people operate their business.

Perhaps that's a glimpse into the future of what climate change might cause on these sorts of things. The next R to talk about is reputation, so we've seen and already discussed how many businesses are announcing their emissions reduction targets. Some have even gone as far as saying they're planning to get to net zero.

The reason they're doing this is to signal to their customers, and investors, and other businesses that they have a plan to get from where they are today to where they need to be, and they want to appear as sustainable as possible. The last one is reward. So we know that sustainability can be part of the selection criteria when we choose businesses we wanna buy from. We know that there can be a substantial competitive advantage generated by leading in your sustainability transition. So there's three Rs that we can think of for impacts, or drivers into a sustainability transformation. When you start your journey, the first thing that businesses often do is to start by base lining their emissions.

So they'll bring someone in to help them measure the emissions in their supply chain, maybe in the manufacturing process itself, in the business operations, and how they connect with customers. Once they have that they can quantify their emissions and they can categorise them, and do all this sort of stuff. They move into a planning phase. So in this planning phase what they're doing is trying to determine which initiatives they should invest in, to help reach their targets. They're also setting their targets here as well, so they're figuring out the duration, and how long it's gonna take to reduce their emissions to where they need to be. Next comes the optimise phase, or we could think of it as the implementation phase.

What you're doing here is actually changing things in your supply chain, or in the business itself, to optimise for emissions and start that progress towards your goals. And finally reporting, so ESG reporting is a key thing that businesses need to do. We need to make sure that everything we are doing to optimise our emissions, we're generating the data that needs to go into these reports. So we're making sure that everyone's aware of how we're tracking towards our goals. So there's a few things to consider there, and hopefully this is a good mental model to help you sort of piece it all together.

As a technologist I ask myself, "Well, what can we do with technology "to help with sustainability? "How can we be more sustainable in the way we use technology "to help transition to a better future?" Well, unfortunately the answer is, "It's kind of complicated." So the tech industry has similar emissions to the aviation industry, which is pretty problematic. And it's predicted that by 2030, around 8% of electricity consumption will be required to run the tech industry. So there's no denying that the tech industry itself has a very large impact on the climate, and has a negative sustainability stance to it. But on the flip side, we can think about, "Well, are there ways we can use "technology to help with our initiatives?" How can we use technology to measure our emissions and help us optimise things, and report and visualise things? Maybe that's a really good way to help us get to our emissions reduction goals.

Well, a couple of ways we can think about technology and how we can apply it for all of these different, great goals. We can think about this physical supply chain, we can also think about the digital supply chain. So you're probably all very familiar with the physical supply chain, and you've probably ordered a million things online during lockdowns, and it's turned up at your doorstep. So we get the physical supply chain, it's a lot of trucks moving around, it's manufacturing processes, it's warehousing, it's logistics, it's all of this sort of stuff. Are there opportunities in there that we can use technology to help potentially reduce our emissions? So I'm gonna tell you a story about a customer project that we did for Waitrose, who is a UK supermarket chain.

So Waitrose, in 2017, launched a new food home delivery service, similar to something like HelloFresh or Marley Spoon. So basically you get online, you order the meals you want for the week, they turn up in a box with the recipe, and you get the pleasure of cooking them at home. It was a really popular service, and over time, more and more people got onto it and were really enjoying it, and they started to add more recipes. So they wanted to make sure that their customers had a really good variety of things to choose from every week.

But as they added more recipes, they created this problem, but they didn't actually know how to accurately predict what the customers were going to order. Therefore their supply chain was disrupted and they were ordering too much food often. So there's a couple of factors here that we need to consider. And the first one is around the financial impact. So if we're ordering too much food, that's impacting the profitability of this service. How can we address that aspect of it? There's also the problem around bad customer experience.

So if customers aren't receiving an order because we don't have enough stock, that could negatively impact our brand. And finally, there's the sustainability aspect of this. If we're ordering too much food, that isn't getting shipped to customers, it's actually getting wasted. How do we focus on these three areas to make sure that we're delivering value across the board? One of the things we did for Waitrose was we developed them a new AI based demand forecasting system. And what that did is it learnt the customer preferences and adjusted for seasonality, and did all of that good stuff. But the key outcome was that it had a great impact on the financial viability of this service, so better predictions enabled them to order just the right amount of raw ingredients to help them keep this new service operating.

They had a positive brand impact, so they were fulfilling more orders as a result of this. And ultimately it also had the sustainability impact they were after. So they reduced 25% of the food waste that they were previously generating. So overall, a great outcome. But I don't want you to think that applying technology to sustainability is the answer.

Yes, we did use AI to solve this one, but I think the key takeaway from this story is actually including sustainability in your definition of value, or make sure that you are focusing on sustainability when you're making these key decisions. So when we're thinking about the initiatives that we should be backing, or measuring progress, or determining the success of a project, make sure that you're including sustainability as one of those key metrics. Because if we are just relying on traditional financial metrics, like ROI, or customer and brand metrics, we're not really going to achieve our sustainability agenda and strategy. So we've spoken a little bit about the physical supply chain, and what you could do there. Now let's talk a little bit more about this digital supply chain and what does that actually mean? Well, your digital supply chain is everything that you do online, it has a meaningful impact. So if we're thinking about our cloud compute infrastructure, potentially even our on prem services, or all of those software services that we use to run our businesses and our personal lives, we can think of that as our digital supply chain.

Now, one of the ways Thoughtworks is trying to help us visualise the impacts that we're having with our cloud compute is through this tool called Cloud Carbon Footprint. So it's a new tool that we have developed and open-sourced to the community that allows you to measure the emissions of your cloud carbon footprint. And once you can measure those things, you can start to make optimizations, to figure out how can we reduce the compute spec of this server to maybe something smaller. It has the same performance, but it's more energy efficient. So it allows you to identify these things and track your progress over time. But to explore the digital supply chain a little bit more, I thought we would start by thinking about an example that we're probably all really familiar with.

Your virtual assistants that you have on your phone, maybe even in your home, as like a Google home, or an Amazon Dot, or something like that. So what happens here is that we talk to these devices and we get them to set a timer, or set a reminder, or play a song, or something like that. It's a really simple and convenient interface that allows us to use our voice to control things, And hopefully it gets it right, and it takes the right action. But what sort of system is behind this? It seems like a really simple thing, but actually it's kind of complicated.

An Australian researcher, Kate Crawford, actually dissected what goes into making this system work. And she looked at everything from the raw materials that go into making the device itself, the cloud compute, and the network connectivity, even the social impacts of having to label this data, and the privacy concerns around that. Luckily for us, she's done all the hard work for us, and it looks like this. And the first time I saw this, I realised, "Wow, this is mind blowing, "the amount of orchestration required "to make this simple action happen is pretty astounding." If we zoom into this cloud compute component here, it doesn't get any less complicated.

It's just more and more detail. You start to get an appreciation for what's happening. So we have these big servers running, running these big AI models, that are converting sound waves into text, and then from text into an intent.

And hopefully the intent allows us to take the action that we're after. They're running on large servers, all around the world, to provide this service to lots and lots of people. It's pretty surprising, and it's a little bit scary to realise that there is an impact to this, and there is a lot of energy going into making this thing work. One of the ways you can think about minimising the impact of your cloud compute, and we're not necessarily all running Amazon scale web infrastructure, but you can start to think about minimising your cloud compute footprint, by using something like our cloud carbon footprint tool and thinking about a greener cloud.

Often what we find is when people use this sort of approach, is that they first reduce the costs of their cloud infrastructure, which is great, but they also reduce the emissions that their infrastructure's producing, which is also another win-win. And it provides you that much needed sustainability metrics and reporting that's often missing in this space. Well one of the examples I'll share with you is for one of our customers called Holaluz, and they are a Spanish green energy company. And what they wanted to do was to make sure that the values of running their business, they were trying to do it as green as possible. They got Thoughtworks in to use their CCF tool and help them identify opportunities to optimise their cloud infrastructure and hopefully reduce their emissions.

And in about, I think it was three weeks, we were able to instal that, get them up and running, and we reduced their cloud infrastructure costs by about 3%. We also had a great impact on their sustainability goals. So by reducing the cloud compute costs, it also reduced their cloud emissions, which was fantastic. And the other big win for them was that it was really well aligned with their brand. They wanted to make sure that being a green energy provider, they were also looking after their own IT infrastructure, making sure that it was as green as possible.

So back to our mental model of a sustainability transformation, we've spoken about Waitrose, and how you can use AI, and putting sustainability in your definition of value, how that can have really great impacts in quite a short period of time. We've also looked at how Holaluz used the CCF tool to firstly measure their cloud emissions, and then secondly, optimise those emissions, and also save themselves money. But what about the bit in the middle? So what about the planning phase planning? The planning phase is probably one of those key aspects that we really need to get right. So the things we choose to do here will determine if we're on track to meet our emissions reduction targets.

Well, I'll tell you a story about this planning phase, and some of the things we've done for our customers. So back in 2020, we worked with a large textiles company and they were quite an old company, a really big company, that were focused on producing workwear. They had completed their carbon accounting process, so they knew where their emissions were coming from in their supply chain, and in their business operations itself. But they were at this point where they didn't know how to set their roadmap up, and how to deliver a more sustainable business model. They wanted to make sure that they were transitioning to be sustainable, and net zero, but also growing the business and remaining profitable.

So they had this lack of clarity, A lot of uncertainty around what to do next. they needed that roadmap, they needed to identify those initiatives that were going to have the biggest impact on reducing their emissions. They also needed to work out how long it would take.

How long would it take to reduce our emissions from where we are today, to where we need to be in five or 10 years from now. And the other key component that everyone's always interested in is how much is it going to cost? We need to make sure that we're remaining profitable whilst transitioning to a better sustainable business model. So Thoughtworks came in, and we worked with the key stakeholders to really map out what their supply chain looked like, how their business operated, and how they connected with their customers.

And as you can imagine, all of the stakeholders had a different visual mind map of how the business worked. But after a while, we sort of wrangled that together to create this shared understanding, and it was really just a visual representation on how their complex supply chain and manufacturing, and all of these other processes worked. We mapped out things like their cost streams, and revenue streams, and also their emission streams.

And what that did is it enabled us to create a mathematical representation of that business and their supply chain. Using that mathematical model, we were able to simulate future scenarios, future scenarios of initiatives that they were thinking of taking, to give them an indication on which ones would be the most impactful, how long it would take, and how much it would cost. So we didn't rely on the AI system to give us the answers, it was really just a conversation starter. How could we use this approach of modelling and AI based exploration to perhaps find different future alternatives that we might not have thought of before.

One of the great examples of this was at the start of the project one of the key stakeholders said "We have so many vehicles in our business, "and in the supply chain, "switching them all over to electric vehicles "would have the most impact, "and it's something we definitely should do." So we modelled that out, we put it through the system and we looked at the impacts on every aspect of it. And we were able to determine that switching all of the vehicles to electric vehicles would have about a 16% emissions reduction year on year, which is pretty great. However, doing that was gonna take a number of years to transition all their vehicles over, and it was also gonna cost a lot of money. One of the other initiatives that we looked at modelling out was transitioning from a traditional cotton fabric that they were using in their workwear pants, to an organic cotton.

We switched over that in the model, and we also looked at the business model, and we thought of ways that they could incentivize people to choose more sustainable options. And in doing so, we were able to model out the future and see what this impact would have on their business. This simple change would have a similar impact to switching over to a 100% electric vehicles, however it wouldn't cost them very much, and they were able to implement it in a matter of weeks, rather than waiting a number of years. And it just goes to show that sometimes our intuition about what's the right thing to do, and a really great thing to do is maybe not always right, and there are other possibilities out there that we could also be doing.

I'm not suggesting that switching to electric cars is a bad idea, not at all, we should definitely all do that. I'm just trying to illustrate the point that there are other things that we could be doing and partnering with AI is a great way to explore those. So just in summary, we built them an AI model that allowed them to model out all of these future scenarios and start a conversation about what they should be doing and when they should be doing it. It allowed them to get a better understanding of how their business worked in the first place, and how complex these problems were, and how they needed to approach addressing those. It enabled them to explore more future possibilities and start that conversation about what they could be doing next.

And it helped them find the optimal roadmap to reaching their emissions reduction. So back to our mental model of a sustainability transformation. So we've spoken about Waitrose, and their AI demand forecasting, also making sure you're focusing on sustainability in your definition of value. We've spoken about Holaluz, and how they use CCF to reduce their emissions and costs.

And we've also spoken about how decision science can help you model out your business and help you accelerate, or make better decisions. So hopefully this has given you some tips and tricks and some ideas on how you can get started, but the main takeaway is that sustainability and profitability can, and must coexist. If you want to know more and get started, reach out to Thoughtworks, because we're a great company that is known for helping businesses transition through digital transformations, and also sustainability transformations. Embedding that culture of sustainability in your business will be one of the key things you can do to get started. The next one is how can you transform your digital supply chain? We're using things like our open source CCF tool we'll help you first measure your emissions, and then you can track your progress over time as you start to reduce those.

And lastly, using AI and partnering with AI through a decision science approach can help you see those new potential futures that you might have otherwise missed. And maybe that's the key to unlocking your roadmap to emissions reduction. - Thanks all, thanks everyone for joining, and back to Nigel for some questions.

- Yeah. Andy, look you're the poster boy for Thoughtworks this year. Normally we're all looking at our watches wondering are they gonna get this over? Are they gonna get this over? You've right on time, which is fantastic, cause I think there's some questions emerging that get to some of the sticky things, about this thing that we've talked about a lot. This great, at one end of the scale, greenwashing, just hard out greenwashing, brand enhancement through putting a layer of green upon on things. Right to the other extreme of genuine commitment to a what we in the lean world called circular lean, zero unaccounted for externalities.

And somewhere in the middle is this, what I termed earlier, fancy word, liminal period we're in, where people are finding their balance, and it's chaos, and there's some. So without adding this to being a great moral cause, I think Tom Wainwright had a really good question about the Waitrose example, and look, to be fair, we should confess you didn't do the Waitrose work, it's part of our collection and library of cases. You're just a new fellow really. But to your knowledge, what extent did that start out as a "Let's save money" business case? And to what extent did it start out "We've got an ESG commitment, or a sustainability goal "replacing a shareholder value goal, "is what we do today at Waitrose." Do you know much about that? - I don't know the history of that one, but I think it's a bit of a Goldilocks example, cause there's obvious financial benefits in making that change, but there's also those sustainability advantages in doing that.

And I think the key takeaway is if you are embedding sustainability metrics in your definition of value, we can make sure that we're focusing on all three areas and not just solely focused on the financials all of the time. Cause, as Nigel mentioned that the start, that's not the greatest way to run a business. And if sustainability is in our strategy and we need to deliver on our targets, we really need to make sure that sustainability is in there as much as possible. - Because I'm in charge, I get to ask my question, which is fantastic. - Excellent. - Which Mark Wallace will be annoyed by, but Mark we'll get to yours, it's all good.

You mentioned a number of big vendors there and it's always a question we get asked by our customers about Google, Amazon, PCs, where do we go? Now, these, you look through those big companies with a certain lens. You can be a little jaundiced by their contribution to the world. Are they any of them particularly better than the others in chasing the sustainability, or green energy, green data centre thing? And where do you find out more about that other than Google? - Look, they're all trying to make a play to be as sustainable as possible, and they're looking at ways of making their data centres as green as possible. Unfortunately, the approach they're using for a lot of that is to use offsets, which is a little bit problematic because the emissions are out there already, and the offsets are sometimes not as effective as they could be. A better approach is to actually reduce your compute infrastructure as much as possible, so the emissions aren't occurring in the first place. So that's what we're hoping to do with the CCF tool and that is cloud agnostic, so it's not aligned with any of the vendors.

That's probably a good way to get started, but to be honest I think they're all similar in their maturity around sustainability and the progress they've made today. - Right. And I'm thinking of course, we've got a new kind of spectrum end point, a new book end, in terms of the evil of various blockchain coins, and NFTs, and those kind of things that completely re-benchmarks that irresponsible use of energy in the process of building value, that's for sure. Let's get to Mark's question.

"How much expertise for measuring footprint "as opposed to planning the path to net zero "is understanding energy more important "than understanding how to use AI, for example. "So are companies gonna hire energy economists "to help with this? "Or do we actually, do engineers, and architects, "and business analysts, and everyone else, "all need to get this mindset and some basic tools "when they're looking at a business case for something." - It's a good question. I think having some basic knowledge won't hurt, but if you check out the Green Software Foundation, what they're trying to do is give software engineers the tools and education they need to make those energy efficient choices at the design phase. So whether it's selecting different programing languages, or different design architecture designs, there's more efficient ways of doing things.

And yeah, check out the Green Software Foundation as a way of finding out more about what you can do as an engineer in this space. - Right, cool. Next question.

"How can, or how does Thoughtworks help organisations "already working on sustainability practises?" What have we got to add, beyond what I could just open up on Google and check with the software people. Where do we fit in the equation for people who already well on this journey. - Yeah, it's a good question. So we definitely don't do carbon counting, and base lining, that's not really what we're all about.

At that point where, if you remember the diagram, there was the plan and optimise, That's probably our sweet spot, I think. So helping you plan, or assess the different initiatives, and how they're going to impact your roadmap, we can certainly help with that, but optimization is one of the keys. So helping you embed data in your systems to make sure that it's there for reporting, and for optimization in the first place, is probably something Thoughtworks can help you with. So one of the biggest problems we hear is that there's a lack of data around emissions, and people are pulling things together in Excel spreadsheets, and trying to make the most of it. Certainly having a bit more rigour, and a systematic way of approaching that would be a better thing for everyone. So certainly Thoughtworks can help you in that space as well.

- And the other end of the spectrum, of somebody who's kind of perhaps got a personal passion for this topic, but working at, how might they just make a little step in the revolution? How do you get started on that? Do you get vegetarian options in the cafe for lunch? You know, being honest, this is a revolution of small pieces. - Yeah, the easiest way to get started, if you're in IT yourself, is probably to start with your on-prem, or cloud compute infrastructure, and looking at the emissions there, that's something you can control and make changes in. The other problems a little bit harder, so often sustainability is one department in an organisation that might not have as much influence as they like.

Helping them embed that sustainability strategy across the organisation is probably the best way to make sure that when we're making choices, that we're thinking about sustainability as much as possible. It needs to be part of everything we do. - I think there's gonna be elements, a bit like way back, 20 years ago, when we veterans of the industry were introducing this thing called Agile.

We genuinely could say that we were reducing costs and risk, because we were getting to value quicker. I think, I sense that there's a cost and risk story here, too. About whether it is we go right back round to shareholder risk, like the value of your business as it stands as an entity in society sometime accounting for your footprint is gonna happen. And as we see like that world economic forum thing the associated risks with climate change, and radical weather, and all those kind of things, are very, very human, very business impacting. Like insurance, for example. - Yep.

- If we don't stop this massive thing. So I got one more question, cause people probably don't know, I'm an energy economist, as per my training way back as a social scientist. I'm curious how you think the pandemic's impacted this agenda. Cause we have all been distracted as hell by just managing working from home in the last three years.

Has it set us back? - Maybe, so it hasn't been as high profile as it was before the pandemic. However, I think it has demonstrated that we can make change very, very quickly, like how we transitioned to working from home, and all of those other sorts of changes. It is possible, and we're not as stubborn as we once thought we were.

So I think it's a good example on how people can adapt to challenging situations and still make it work. I'm hoping that the sustainability agenda comes back up and gets some air time over the pandemic, eventually. Yeah, I think we've learned some good lessons would be my summary. - Right.

This one's a tough one, because in the audience we have listening Australia's leading artificial intelligence slash I went like that when I said it, Matt, artificial intelligence machine learning person, Matt Kelsey. - Uh-oh. - The question to you is "Can you say a little bit "about the good use of machine learning AI "for sustainability, and the scale from there. "What's a good example of that going through "to not such good uses, "and how are we measuring good anyway? "What metrics would you track to see progress on that scale?" So the great story about Alexa, who knew what was beneath the water on that, it's frightening.

- It is frightening. - And any other cases or stories? - Look, I think, as successful businesses and organisations, we're really good at optimising for financial metrics. I think if we just take a little bit of that brain power and put it towards sustainability metrics we'll be equally as successful. And as I said at the start, there's risk, reputation, and reward. The application of AI and other technologies can address all of those things, it's about optimising the way we do things, and adjusting, and being a little bit smarter about how we make decisions. One of the ways AI can help in that space is helping us with these really complex situations like our supply chain and that story I told about the textiles company.

How can we use AI there to make better decisions that don't just make us more money, but make us more sustainable as well. - The cases I'm interested in at the moment, cause ooh, that AGL story and Mike Cannon-Brookes is a bit of a spicy one, on the Australian political scale at the moment, is electricity planning. So grid planning, battery storage, it's got the full range of risk, but the scale of the numbers, and the patents, I think, opens itself really well to looking for the patents with algorithms to see. And it just, I mean, the Betoota Advocates just nailing it at the moment, in terms of we've got a bunch of vested interest politicians with their abacus' out, building little mini coal stacks. - Yeah. - Versus some pretty sophisticated tech thinkers right now.

How much of this? I mean, it's a political agenda, and a rational economic agenda. What's winning at the moment? - Look, I think the energy system's ripe for disruption, as Mike Cannon-Brookes said, and that's the play he's trying to make. And he wasn't successful this time, but I think someone will be.

I think it's still bogged down in a political discussion at the moment though. And our lack of incentives around sustainability is setting us back. We're seeing the EU and North America have some of those incentives in place, and they are making better progress. And all those stats I showed at the start are much better for those regions.

So if we can make some small tweaks around that, I think we can start to get back on track, and hopefully it doesn't fall on rich billionaires to rescue us all the time, maybe that's not a sustainable approach. - No. Look, I for one am a real optimist, I've great faith in the generation of people I see working for Thoughtworks, working for clients. A younger generation who didn't grow up in the 80s and 90s, who take a holistic view of the economy, and the society, and see things like our environmental footprint, is absolutely fundamental, and cope much better with the complexity of it.

I think this is where we've got into trouble in the past is abstracting some of that complexity you've talked about today. And if we can just not ruin the planet, hand it over to the new generation, we'll all be in good shape. - Absolutely. - Well, I think we've run outta questions, Andy, and it's 10 to.

Always happy to hand people back another few minutes. On behalf of Grace and Thereun, who do all behind the scenes hard work, Grace has put up a link for a feedback form. Take a couple minutes, fill that out for us, do us a favour, it's always helpful, we love to listen to it. And thank you so much everyone for joining us, do your little part. There was lots of suggestions.

Copy those quickly before we shut it down. And thanks, Andy, welcome to the team. It's just so wonderful for me, you've got Bob Dylan, and you've got Jimmy Hendrix behind you. - Yeah, yeah. - This kind of this whole environmentalism and technology movement that you have crossed the streams on right back there in the 60s, 15 years ago. 60 years ago.

- Yeah. - And long live the revolution. - Yep.

- Thanks everyone. - Thanks for joining us.

2022-03-29 04:30

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