ESG initiatives have become critical strategic priorities for brands and businesses, and most companies are taking at least some action—or are they? Three out of four surveyed business leaders (76 percent) in major industries doubt their peers’ ESG reporting, according to new research from mobile satellite communications firm Inmarsat.
The firm’s new independent research report, Accelerating Sustainable Action Through IoT, explores the views of over 1,000 senior technology and ESG decision-makers. The survey, conducted by Censuswide, asked professionals about their perceptions on ESG and whether they believed data provided by Internet of Things (IoT) solutions could help improve reporting transparency.
Respondents also report concerns about their peers’ ESG priorities, with 80 percent saying their competitors are more focused on perception rather than achieving tangible sustainability outcomes.
However, despite skepticism about the motivations of their peers, most business leaders have faith in their own initiatives: with 81 percent convinced their company is more sustainable than their competitors.
Lack of data is driving lack of trust
The results suggest that a lack of verifiable hard data—and the willingness to share it—is undermining trust and slowing progress on business sustainability.
Positively, however, many believe data collected via IoT solutions is critical to building trust (81 percent) and improving ESG outcomes overall (82 percent).
Four in five respondents plan to increase their use of IoT solutions over the next 12 months to measure and understand the impact of their sustainability initiatives more accurately. A similar proportion reported they are already seeing return on investment from IoT tools used to improve sustainability (78 percent).
While the majority (83 percent) agree they could be doing more to effectively leverage IoT solutions to produce ESG data, engrained resistance to data sharing creates an additional barrier to progress.
Only 47 percent said they would be comfortable sharing all their ESG data with third parties to improve industry reporting and benchmarking over the next 1-3 years, reinforcing that improving trust will be key to achieving better outcomes.
“You cannot manage what you cannot measure, so it is heartening to see so many organizations looking to IoT to assess and improve ESG reporting,” said Jat Brainch, chief commercial and product officer at Inmarsat, in a news release. “To demonstrate progress, however, businesses must overcome their reluctance to share useful data and have the confidence to publish meaningful insights. Otherwise, they risk undermining genuine collaboration on sustainability and overshadowing the real progress being made. There is no quick fix, but creating methodical benchmarks based on actionable data, and sharing the results, will play a critical role in re-establishing trustworthy ESG reporting.”
Satellite connectivity is key for IoT
With big data at the heart of IoT effectiveness, nine in ten (91 percent) agree that satellite connectivity is the key to harnessing the full potential of IoT solutions focused on improving sustainability.
Currently, just over a third of respondents (36 percent) rely on satellite networks for IoT connectivity. However, satellite is set to become the most popular method of connectivity over the next decade, with half expecting to use it within this timeframe.
IoT-enabled data is not the only way satellite technology can help improve environmental outcomes. Another recent Inmarsat report, Can Space Help Save the Planet?, revealed that the world could reach Net Zero by 2040—ten years ahead of schedule—by accelerating the adoption of space and satellite technologies.
“Connected IoT solutions are the key to sourcing, analyzing and sharing aggregate ESG data in a compliant and secure way,” said David Hill, executive director of IoT Community, in the release. “The same way we use wearable devices to measure our personal health, businesses should rely on IoT solutions more to monitor progress, reduce costs, improve safety and maximize sustainability. Robust data will back up their ESG claims and can be used for reporting across all areas of their operations, particularly in remote locations with challenging conditions.”
Networks such as Inmarsat ELERA are central to this, providing ultra-reliable global connectivity which allows data sharing in industries like agriculture, electrical utilities, mining, oil and gas, and transport.
“IoT is nothing without connectivity. Yet terrestrial coverage often cannot reach the remote locations where our most valuable data points frequently originate,” Brainch said. “By using satellites to close that connectivity gap, organizations can access data to make the right decisions right away. We need to make the most of that opportunity if we are to achieve Net Zero quickly.”
“To achieve true success, we must shift our mindset with regards to data sharing and connectivity. Once businesses become comfortable sharing their ESG insights to improve broader industry reporting and benchmarking and prioritize satellite connectivity as a key enabler, will we start to see real progress on sustainability,” Hill concluded.
This report is based on independent research conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Inmarsat, surveying 1,000+ senior technology and ESG professionals with sustainability decision-making power across a range of businesses sizes. Data was collected in August/September 2022.