Davanti Dreamforce Digest #2: the sustainability imperative
30th September 2021
Author Anita Hedges
Salesforce is an important and powerful tool that helps Davanti’s customers get closer to their customers, helping to create connected experiences for meaningful and sustainable outcomes.
A number of the Davanti team attended sessions at this year’s Dreamforce, learning more about updates to the tech stack as well as gaining insights into their particular areas of expertise – and then we asked them to share their insights and highlights as part of this #DF21 Davanti Digest series.
Anita Hedges, Salesforce Consultant and Sustainability Lead, shares her Sustainability highlights and insights.
Tell us about the Dreamforce sessions you attended and what’s important about the topic of sustainability.
Sustainability was one of the five central themes of the conference, showing how important this topic has become. There were two aspects within this – that is, broader discussions on sustainability and the climate crisis, and more specifically how Salesforce is helping to drive action and empower businesses to be more sustainable.
This year there seemed to be a big focus on ‘trees and seas’, highlighting how important these ecosystems are and what is being done or can be done to protect them. A big aspect of this is the role of business , which is where Salesforce’s Sustainability Cloud comes in. Overall, many of the sessions emphasised the immediacy of the topic, and that no businesses can turn away at this point.
What were your highlights?
There were a number of sessions that I found really interesting, from both a personal and professional perspective. I wanted to hear what Salesforce had to say about Sustainability Cloud, including any product announcements, as well as sustainability in general.
I attended one session where they gave a brief demo on the updates to Sustainability Cloud, and it looks amazing. Their new tagline is Net Zero-as-a-service. To me, this means that by ingesting data into the product, and tracking and monitoring progress, an organisation can become net zero. For instance, they’ve included the ability to track progress against targets, and to track waste and carbon offsets. A business can look at their carbon footprint, and then link directly from within the app to third-party websites to purchase carbon credits, and this then feeds back into Sustainability Cloud.
There was also a session on tree planting, which looked at the huge benefit of urban forests. In the US they have this concept of a tree equity score. In the past, when we planned cities, certain areas wouldn’t have as many trees and green spaces, and it was typically more well-off areas that would have more greenery. Fast forward to now and there is a big message around trying to get more urban forests throughout our cities. I’d never thought about this before, so it was very interesting. On this note, Salesforce is aiming to plant 30 million trees this year. This is definitely a space where you have to walk the talk!
On ocean health, one session that stood out was with Jane Fonda, who I didn’t realise was so involved in climate activism. One of the things she said that made me stop and think was that fossil fuels are at the centre of the climate crisis and we shouldn’t be investing in this area any more. In New Zealand, that means we should be checking what our KiwiSaver fund is invested into (websites like Mindful Money can help here). The session also highlighted that our oceans are an extremely precious commodity and as they absorb 25% of the world’s carbon it’s one of our biggest allies against climate change. So we need to be looking after it – from simple things like not using single-use plastics, right through to reducing emissions at a corporate level.
What are your key takeaways from the sessions?
One huge theme of the conference was the fact that this conversation is now one we all have to be having. In one session it was said that the last five to seven years have been about digital transformation, and the next five to seven years are going to be about climate action and sustainability. This leads to questions around how we can realistically handle and deal with changing demands.
It was proposed that, in the near future, businesses will have to report on their corporate responsibility data, in the same way they would have to report on their taxes. This can be overwhelming for some organisations because this data can be quite fragmented. The speakers proposed that software offers a way forward. Technology solutions designed specifically for sustainability practices can help to streamline processes and make reporting manageable.
For instance, Sustainability Cloud can consolidate data to give organisations a single source of truth, and also deliver insights on the data so decision-makers can make changes and achieve both short- and long-term sustainability goals. This can aid in shifts in practice that are required to respond to the climate crisis.
What’s most relevant for New Zealand organisations?
In New Zealand, the conversation around sustainability is becoming more significant, but we’re not quite there yet. The pandemic has globally made everyone stop and pay attention to climate action, and if we want to continue to be considered on the world stage, we have to be part of this conversation. For us as an organisation, the formation of our Sustainability Council has helped us to form and continually drive our sustainability focus.
Right now, businesses from every industry need to be thinking about what efforts they are making to be more sustainable by reducing their carbon emissions and minimising what they need to offset. They also need to think about how to contribute to the wider conversation around the role that they need to play with respect to climate action. The Dreamforce sessions really emphasised that waiting is no longer an option, and that there are tangible ways to get started and integrate sustainability practices into your businesses.
What left a lasting impression?
It was said that trees are the original green technology. So, we need to design cities with organic living material, and have a green infrastructure. The second part of this is that we can’t divorce ourselves from nature and expect to recover from climate change.
The other point that made a big impact on me was the idea that the last five to seven years have been about digital transformation, and now we’re moving into a new phase of business and life where sustainability is a core focus. It’s something we can’t ignore and there are effective ways we can all be more involved.
If you’d like to chat about anything covered here, or anything to do with your organisation’s – or own – sustainability journey, please get in touch – we’d love to chat.