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Sustainability 2.0 – Driving Sustainability Engagement through Social Media (Part 1/2)

Sustainability 2.0 involves the employment of social media tools to initiate, maintain and monitor sustainability engagement.  Companies and institutions are increasingly turning to social media channels to grow corporate social responsibility initiatives of all categories, including sustainability.  Sustainability 2.0 involves two components for optimal engagement across any large-scale enterprise organization, or even university campus: 1. promotion and 2. analysis.

Promotion of sustainable actions via social media:

According to a 2011 study by Sustainable Life Media and Zumer, social media is used at 50 global companies to promote sustainability on various engagement levels.    Professor Nigel P. Melville of the University of Michigan delivers an action-based summary of the report’s findings on 4,000+ social web posts:

  • “76% of sustainability professionals interviewed believe that their investment in sustainability-themed social media will help gain market share, increase the size of the overall market, or, ideally, both.”
  • “Companies such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Dell and Toyota (all profiled in case studies) have unearthed the enormous potential of combining social media and sustainability to gain market share and acquire customers in new and growing markets.”
  • “Social media is impacting the way leading corporations are planning and executing their business practices.  As an example, companies have been able to increase internal recognition of their sustainability goals, on average,  by 10-15% through the use of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. This is resulting in greater compliance with energy, waste and water efficiency strategies.”

Why select “social media” as a channel for driving environmental activism? People are influenced by social media conversations.

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Leading by Example on Energy Reduction

Cisco’s TelePresence product is helping organizations around the world reduce their carbon footprints. A perfect example is the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), which just held its annual global launch through video conferencing for the first time ever.

Where once executives and speakers would have flown in from far-flung locations around the globe to attend the meeting, people from nine locations on four continents gathered at a virtual conference table to discuss the challenging environmental problems facing our planet. Read More »

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A Smarter, Connected (and Sustainable) World

Today is Earth Day, and that has me thinking green.  As I discussed this afternoon at GigaOm’s Green: Net conference, the world is changing around us in many ways, including becoming more urbanized.  Over the next five years, some 500 million people will be added to the world’s cities.  As we think about how to manage the energy and environmental challenges that will accompany these trends, what role will the network play in helping us be more efficient and more sustainable?  And what benefits will that bring to utilities and to consumers, to governments and communities at large? 

Cities consume 75 percent of the world’s energy and are responsible for 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.  Utilities and the energy infrastructure are at the heart of city planning.  If we are to better manage this impact, we must transform our electrical grid into a modern and more sustainable platform for the 21st century.  Technology is the only way we can achieve balanced and sustainable growth.

Lessons in how to make our electric grids more reliable, more secure and more scalable can be gleaned from our experience in vastly revamping the telecommunications infrastructure in the ‘90s.  Here too we had somewhat proprietary, siloed networks that didn’t talk to one another.  Here too we had an industry that was highly regulated and needed to cautiously implement change.  And here too we had an emerging field of companies chomping at the bit to capitalize on making the new telecomm infrastructure everything it could be.

The lessons we learned from this transition are important:  architect the infrastructure on open, standards-based technology; build in security from the beginning; and establish public- private partnerships to align policy with infrastructure investment needs.

This transformation will rely on new technologies but also on leveraging existing technologies such as routing and switching for a utility environment.  Data centers, cloud computing and security have a role to play in managing and protecting the vast influx of usage data so that we can make better educated decisions about energy consumption.  Energy management of businesses and homes will leverage the existing networks extend their reach and impact. And given that the entire grid is the world’s largest infrastructure, integrating energy infrastructure with information technology will require a disciplined, architectural approach that we can only begin to foresee.

This transition has great implications, especially in our largest cities, where the need is most apparent.  Examples are cropping up around the world of this vision in action.  The Envision Charlotte initiative has set a goal of reducing energy use by up to 20 percent within its perimeter through greater education of citizens and use of information technology.  BC Hydro in Vancouver just announced that it will roll out 1.8 million smart meters based on Itron’s OpenWay technology, powered by Cisco, to enable a more efficient grid and foster the use of renewable energy.  And the city of Incheon, Korea is building in sustainability from the ground up.

These are but a few of the examples of how cities are changing, based on their energy and environmental goals.  As I look around today, I see a smarter, more connected world emerging with a more intelligent and efficient energy infrastructure, supporting millions of customers, and billions of watts, with one network at the core

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Cisco’s Early in Career Network – helping our new hires to feel included

It’s an interesting activity:

Ask a diverse group of people if they remember their first day at work…you probably get a mix of reactions right? Some people are able to recall the experience quite vividly (particularly if it wasn’t that long ago) and are able to give you precise details – their start date, their first task, perhaps even what they wore. Others may only be able to recall a vague memory…

Then ask the same group of people if they remember how they felt after week 1 and I bet most, if not all of them, will be able to give you a definite answer: “I knew I had made the right choice”; “I felt overwhelmed”; “I was excited at the opportunities that lay ahead”. Read More »

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Innovation is key to becoming a ‘people-centric’ business

When I think of “Inclusion and Diversity”, I automatically think about creating a diverse and inclusive workforce environment: providing all employees with learning and development opportunities, ensuring employees with disabilities have the right tools and resources and educating all employees on how to work with people with disabilities, sending out regular communications on techniques for how to strengthen inclusion and diversity in the workplace and so forth.

Reading this article from UTalkMarketing.com this morning over a cup of coffee made me question my own definition of “Inclusion and Diversity.” I came to the conclusion that my view on this subject was far too narrow – I was focussing on it from a purely internal perspective and needed to think outside of the box and include an external perspective too. Inclusion and Diversity isn’t just about making your diverse workforce feel included; it’s also about ensuring that your customers feel included AND that their voices and their business needs lie at the heart of your business.

The author of this article, Chris Beswick, argues that businesses need to develop a relationship with their customers, look at the world from their perspective and appreciate the problems they face and the things they aspire to. Instead of focussing on their own products and services, businesses need to put greater focus on their customers’ problems and tensions – it’s not “what you do”, i.e. what you sell; what you provide, but rather “how you do it”, i.e. how you fuel innovation and differentiation.

Yet Beswick argues that true customer-centricity is only possible if you first become people-centric. In his words the only way you can provide an exceptional end-to-end customer experience is to ensure that everyone in your organisation understands how to collaborate on solving your customers’ problems.

How do you extend Inclusion and Diversity to your customers? Share your thoughts below.

Do you have an Inclusion and Diversity story to share? Please send it to idblog@cisco.com.

To read the full article click here

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