How digitization of supply chains can boost circular economies
Digital innovation and the circular economy are a kind of symbiosis. In times of increasing internet proliferation, it is difficult to envision a circular economy initiative that is not backed by technology. While there may be a number of ways in which digitization can positively impact the circular economy, here are the top three:
1. Digitization can help organizations make better, more sustainable decisions†
Digital technologies allow information to travel with the product. This enables companies to capture, store and analyze consumption patterns, which in turn helps organizations make better decisions. For example, research shows that: 70% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are related to material handling and use. When companies have insight into how full their plane, ship or truck is, they can determine in real time how efficient their delivery will be. This translates into better efficiency, lower fuel costs, shorter delivery cycles and lower GHG. Thyssenkrupp, one of the world’s leading elevator manufacturers, installed a cloud-based predictive maintenance system on 130,000 of its elevators worldwide. The sensors collect health data from the components, systems and performance. This helps Thyssenkrupp to provide better service, longer elevator uptime and longer product life.
2. Digitization can help unlock more value across entire supply chains† Traditionally, most businesses have focused on connecting data and devices across their customer base. Digitization can be used to unlock a number of isolated components, partners and consumers from across the value chain. For example, a raw material supplier (via APIs) can tap into a manufacturer’s inventory system to proactively validate whether certain raw materials are running out. Once raw materials have reached the end of their useful life, manufacturers can use digital technologies to measure whether the products have reached sufficient intrinsic value to be returned to them. This offers companies the opportunity to be more efficient and less resource-intensive while generating less waste and emissions. An increasing number digital platforms promise to create closer integrations in the value chain and help different manufacturers in the transition to a circular economy model. On the consumer side, digital marketplaces help create more sustainability conscious consumers.
3. Digital supply chains must be reliable and secure† Digitization of the supply chain offers the promise of greater speed, efficiency, visibility and control. However, the increased prevalence of APIs means an organization’s attack surface is growing. In the same way that a single container ship stuck in the Suez Canal can disrupt the global economy, an API that is unavailable or unreliable can disrupt key supply chain processes. As organizations digitize, they must take the necessary steps to protect their digital assets.
How Citrix is deploying the circular economy
Citrix technologies empower individuals and businesses to work from anywhere and embrace flexible work models. These technologies enable organizations to embrace a secure hybrid work model. This also means organizations using Citrix can dramatically reduce commuting emissions while meeting employee needs for flexibility, given how 27% of US emissions come from transportation sources and office-related commutes.
Employees using Citrix solutions can use low-energy devices and use those same devices for longer, reducing costs and emissions, while keeping hazardous waste out of landfill. This supports two important principles of a circular economy with reuse of devices and waste reduction.
Citrix technologies also play a critical role in facilitating a seamless transition to energy efficiency and low-carbon cloud computing. Citrix’s App Delivery and Security solution protects and scales APIs that are so critical to a streamlined and efficient digital supply chain. Protecting the digital backbone is an important step towards a more circular economy.
The transition to the circular economy will not be easy, but it will be worth it. Customers are looking for companies that offer great service, but also share their core values. Companies that use digitization to embrace circularity will be seen as visionary and as such will be rewarded with deeper customer relationships and loyalty. As the old saying goes, what goes around comes around.
This content is produced by Citrix. It was not written by the editors of MIT Technology Review.