As the market is flooded with new companies and ideas, and businesses have to work harder than ever to remain competitive and relevant, innovation has never been more important. Innovation improves productivity, efficiency, quality of service and customer satisfaction and, with the use of new and improved technology and processes, it also reduces risks and costs.
However, businesses shouldn’t just consider their productivity, revenue and profit; they should also consider how they position themselves in society, and that requires a focus on environmental, social and cultural sustainability. Even though traditional innovation might result in profitability and efficiency benefits for a company, it might also exploit employees, as well as natural resources.
As a result, there is a growing concern among investors and consumers that companies look not only at revenue and profit but also the complete sustainability value chain. This includes the impact on the environment as well as social and economic sustainability.
“Sustainable Innovation” takes into account both the effect on the environment and on society as a whole. Sustainable innovation benefits and is driven by society, the environment and the organisation through long-term thinking, which offers social and environmental benefits while creating economic profits for the firm 1 . This involves developing new products and services, as well as reviewing and updating operational processes, throughout the business, from design and production to marketing 2 .
Sustainable innovation is a great way to future-proof your business, and it also makes your company more resilient and targeted in your approach as you’re considering all the stakeholders. Sustainability can be achieved in three ways: through operational changes, by considering compliance and efficiency to improve processes; through organisational updates, by, for example, offering innovative products and services focused on doing good; and through integrating new systems, by collaborating with others to create a positive impact on the environment, as well as society 3 .