Digital Transformation Focused on Sustainability

Categories: IoT / Connected Products

My inspiration for writing this blog was a recent trip to a warehouse and distribution center of a well-known U.S. fast-food enterprise with a reputation for superior quality. During my visit, I had the opportunity to chat with the center’s Manager for Food Safety whose credentials (Ph.D. in Food Science), knowledge, and experience reflect the company’s commitment to product safety and quality. Associated with this commitment is the company’s initiative to work with its suppliers to source meat from cows that are not raised with antibiotics important to human medicine. This represents an aspect of food quality that contributes to the well-being of the community by discouraging the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a notion that aligns with The United Nations’ 2030 agenda for sustainable development (specifically, “Good health and well-being” and “Responsible consumption and production”) exhibited at the right.

Sustainable development benefits corporations that embrace it as well as benefitting the world-wide community. Formerly characterized as a company’s ability to steadily increase its earnings, “sustainability” has more recently been applied in a broader sense to a company’s ability to thrive in the long term. Globalization – the transition from self-contained national economies and national markets to an interdependent, integrated global economic system and global market – is driving increasing expectations around sustainability. Global enterprises are among the world’s largest economic entities; it’s no wonder that society expects these corporate giants to lead the way in overcoming the major challenges confronting the earth and its inhabitants. Companies that fail to embrace this responsibility threaten their own survival. To achieve success, they must formulate and implement strategies for sustainability that encompass not just environmental (“green”) issues, but also social, economic, and cultural concerns.

Cloudera’s customers and partners are among the corporations that are successfully implementing digital transformation initiatives with sustainability in mind. One of Cloudera’s partners offers “Sustainability Services” with a goal of assisting organizations in turning costs and risks associated with changing regulatory and workforce environments, as well as supply chain uncertainties and volatile markets, into business opportunities. They advocate integrating sustainable approaches into an organization’s strategies, operating models, processes, and technologies as an approach to achieving sustainable growth and profitability in a digitally disrupted world., a customer headquartered in Chapel Hill, NC is leveraging Cloudera Enterprise Data Hub to combine smart sensor data with other sources of information in a global climate-aware network to deliver data-driven insights for improving operational efficiencies and environmental compliance in industries like agriculture, golf and turf management, mining, and vineyard management.  Data is collected from in-ground sensors, handheld measurement devices, satellites, GIS, weather sources, and databases related to plants, biomasses, species’ behaviors, and business. These data are analyzed to build a holistic picture of environmental conditions that are used to advise clients on more efficient uses of resources resulting in greater environmental sustainability. This IoT platform is being implemented for a variety of use cases including the following:

  • Determining crop production, fertilizer usage, and yield rates on large farms
  • Optimizing crop rotation within small-scale agricultural operations
  • Maximizing efficiencies in aquaponics
  • Monitoring water usage both across and within farms and golf courses
  • Ensuring environmental compliance and proactively detecting unsafe situations

The work being conducted by Cloudera’s customers and partners demonstrate an undeniable connection between digital transformation and sustainability. Digital transformation can enable sustainability, and the two should be integrated as components of an organization’s overall strategic direction. Companies that fail to take advantage of the opportunity to play a critical role in overcoming challenges to global sustainability will eventually lose their competitive advantage to enterprises that capitalize on this opportunity to create sustainable value in a digital world.

About the Author:

Lakshmi Randall is Director of Product Marketing at Cloudera, a machine learning and analytics company. Previously, she was a Research Director at Gartner (News – Alert) covering Data Warehousing, Data Integration, Big Data, Information Management, and Analytics practices. To learn more, visit or follow the company @cloudera or the author on Twitter (News – Alert): @LakshmiLJ


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