Today, heavy industry is under immense pressure to address the greenhouse gas emissions associated with their operations, and this sense of urgency has catalyzed the development and subsequent commercialization of technologies that can help companies accelerate their carbon abatement efforts.
So, digitalization and decarbonization will become further interconnected in the pursuit of carbon neutrality. And while usability is a critical factor in the design of any technology, it becomes even more vital for a decarbonization tool since it will determine whether technology can help a company make agile decisions and operationalize carbon abatement strategies.
In this article, we’ll explore design principles that can help drive the adoption and scale of intelligent decarbonization tools across organizations.
A complicated path forward
Multiple powerful forces are converging, compelling organizations to take decisive actions toward decarbonization. Heavy industries are facing pressure from governments, investors and society to reduce emissions. However, addressing this imperative is challenging as many of these companies play a role in enabling and constraining the transition to a carbon-free economy. Therefore, their path to net zero is complex, and it requires considerable effort and coordination.
These companies must weigh decisions about the internal operations and capital investments that affect their production capacity. Each potential strategy also has implications for the members of their value chains, who also play critical roles in the industrial economy.
Role of heavy industries: These sectors provide essential inputs required for this transition, indicating their centrality in the shift toward sustainability.
Responsibility of manufacturers: Manufacturers stand out as creators of power-generating devices while also holding responsibility for emissions in scope 2. This highlights their dual role in both the problem and the solution.
Capital-intensive: Heavy industries are not only capital-intensive but also indispensable to sectors such as steel, plastic and energy production as well as the broader economy, underscoring their substantial impact on sustainability.
Carbon-neutrality goals will require these companies to change the way they work. This means adopting a new manner of business planning, communication and collaboration across supply chains. The pressure to decarbonize will persist, so organizations can no longer delay pursuing transformative measures.
Technology’s role in the net zero transition
The urgent need to decarbonize operations is fueling market demand for technologies that can help companies accelerate their carbon abatement efforts. According to Fortune Business Insights, the global green technology and sustainability market size is projected to grow from $16.50 billion in 2023 to $61.92 billion by 2030. Given the rapid maturation of the climate technology landscape, it’s apparent that digitalization and decarbonization will only become further interconnected in the coming years.
While the convergence of digitalization and decarbonization has created a dynamic environment ripe for innovation and investment, it also draws attention to the critical role digital tools play in the broader effort to achieve decarbonization goals. Beyond downstream technologies like carbon capture, there is a growing segment of technologies—carbon management tools—tailored to support the development of decarbonization strategies.
Due to dedicated efforts to understand technology’s role in business planning, a competitive market has emerged in the carbon management realm involving various entities, such as specialized software providers, equipment manufacturers, major technology companies and consulting firms.
Unlocking the potential utility of technology
For companies pursuing widescale adoption of their technology in this crowded market, ease of use will become a competitive advantage. Furthermore, while usability is a critical factor in the design of any technology, it becomes even more vital for a decarbonization tool since it will determine whether primary users can unlock enterprise-wide transformation and operationalize carbon abatement strategies. In this context, the following design principles stand out:
Design for Action
Data-driven decisions are vital, so design should facilitate meaningful action. Connect data to real-world impact, empowering users to make informed choices.
Design for Change
We live in a constantly evolving regulatory, technological and environmental landscape. Design is a living, breathing element that transforms with it. Design should be modular, flexible and customizable to remain relevant throughout the product’s life cycle, adapting to evolving regulations, technology and environment.
Design for Collaboration
We are the agents of change. Inclusivity matters. Ensure the experience caters to diverse users, irrespective of roles, levels or industries. Give visibility to everyone’s needs for broader awareness.
Design for Priority
If everything is important, then nothing is important. Hierarchy, a fundamental design element, takes center stage. When it comes to climate data, our focus must be on elevating scientific values, highlighting details that shape our world and guiding actionable change. Amid the sea of importance, emphasis and clarity emerge through prioritization. Any approach should illuminate critical scientific values, magnify real-life and planetary impacts and pinpoint change-worthy domains. In the realm of design, a strategic hierarchy remains indispensable.
These principles guide an effective design strategy, focusing on actionable insights, adaptability, inclusivity and focused priorities.
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