Trends Impact Awards: digitization benefits people and the environment - Companies

Trends Impact Awards: digitization benefits people and the environment – Companies

At the end of November, the Trends Impact Awards will reward SMEs and large companies that have a lasting impact on their environment. Prizes will be awarded in six categories, while a Global Impact Award will be given to the most comprehensive project. This week, we present to you the Trends Impact Award for digitalization.

Digitization has had many happy consequences, but also generated some inconvenience. Think about the digitization of banks, a process that most people applaud. Except that a significant part of the population remains insufficiently familiar with digital technology to fully appreciate this development. In the same way, automation is a necessity in many companies, but it also means that some employees find themselves with outdated technical skills, therefore excluded from the job market. As for the data centers that are popping up everywhere, they are essential, but often consume a lot of (fossil) energy.

Digitization has had many happy consequences, but also generated some inconvenience. Think about the digitization of banks, a process that most people applaud. Except that a significant part of the population remains insufficiently familiar with digital technology to fully appreciate this development. In the same way, automation is a necessity in many companies, but it also means that some employees find themselves with outdated technical skills, therefore excluded from the job market. As for the data centers that are popping up everywhere, they are essential, but often consume a lot of (fossil) energy. Today, therefore, the challenge is to give a positive impact even to these negative repercussions. In other words, how to evolve so that digitalization and automation are, in the future, fully sustainable and connect citizens instead of making some feel excluded? And how can we use this knowledge to solve some of the world’s crucial problems? Take for example these supermarkets that are increasingly using technology to better manage their inventory and therefore reduce waste. A policy that can, in particular, contribute to advancing the second United Nations Sustainable Development Goal: eradicating hunger in the world, ensuring food security, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture. We have all appreciated the benefits of technology during the pandemic. Workers could continue to work from home, and schoolchildren and students could take courses online. But companies developed tools to co-create products with citizens long before the covid crisis and democratic governments around the world are already using citizen participation technologies to bridge the gap with citizens. However, some sectors, such as artificial intelligence or blockchain, are only in their infancy, and a host of still unsuspected applications should appear in the years to come. Jochen Vincke, partner at consultancy PwC, sees the role that technology will certainly play in agriculture one day, for example: “Drones can identify plots of land that need fertilizing, an autonomous tractor can reduce the farmer’s workload so that he can devote himself to other tasks, etc. It is also a question of supporting the farmer where the food is produced. Digitalization will allow us, for example, to making short circuits work more efficiently. Another example is the energy sector. Thanks to new technologies that make it possible to better manage its use, people will be able to consume their energy when it is most beneficial to them”. Wayne Visser is professor of sustainable transition at the Antwerp Management School, one of the partners of the Trends Impact Awards. As such, he hopes to see the development of many projects resulting from the fourth industrial revolution (or Industry 4.0), where automation and data are used to improve production processes. “But we can also use these technologies to solve social and environmental problems, says Wayne Visser. Blockchain, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, drones… The sky is the limit. Again, imagine how these tools can improve the agricultural sector or make our economy more efficient. energy consumption.” In this category of awards, projects aimed at helping workers to retrain, so that they are equipped with new skills and better equipped to face the future, can also compete. Initiatives aimed at improving the digital literacy of citizens so that they are able to work with machines rather than simply being replaced by them… Directing people towards training in STEM fields (science, technology , engineering and mathematics) and computer science, their career is more assured”.

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