Report: Eco-digital economy to reach nearly $33 trillion in 5 years

The expansive possibilities of digital technologies remain largely unexplored, and the eco-digital economy, fueled by a combination of digital advancements and sustainability efforts, is projected to undergo a twofold increase by 2028: according to the latest report by the Capgemini Research Institute, titled ‘The Eco-Digital Era™: The dual transition to a sustainable and digital economy,’ developed in collaboration with the Digital Value Lab at the Digital Data and Design Institute at Harvard. According to the report, the adoption of digital technologies has empowered organizations to slash their energy consumption by nearly 25% and achieve a noteworthy 21% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the past five years.

In this new era of a dual transition to an eco-digital economy that delivers not only economic value, but also environmental and social value, the scaling up of digital adoption will propel economic growth with sustainability at its core. 

More collaborative and platform-driven than ever before, this eco-digital era™ is giving rise to new business models and revenue streams, as well as enhanced cost efficiencies, all driven by data utilization, cloud technology, collaborative ecosystems, and connected products and services. According to the report, seven in 10 organizations agree that digitally driven business models will become a key contributor of revenue growth in the next three to five years. Furthermore, 60% expect digitally driven business models to generate more revenue than their traditional business models.

“In the eco-digital era, there is greater exploration of digital technologies’ value to business – for instance by the scaling of data and cloud, and by having digital technologies play a crucial role in achieving sustainability goals. There is also a fast evolution of emerging tech such as generative AI and synthetic biology, and greater collaboration giving rise to digital ecosystems,” comments Dr. Suraj Srinivasan, Philip J. Stomberg, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and Head of the Digital Value Lab at the Digital Data and Design Institute at Harvard. “This shift is truly fundamental, cross-sectoral and global in nature. One of the biggest questions that organizations have to address and manage, as they scale, is knowing what to centralize and what to decentralize in terms of platform architecture, and most importantly, data governance.”

Mainstream technologies at scale set to deliver most value

Investment in digital transformation from scaling-up mainstream technologies and implementing cybersecurity measures, to reskilling the workforce and automating business processes – is expected to result in the most significant returns over the next five years, from 4% at present to 14% in 2028.

According to the report, around half of organizations (48%) are either at the planning stage or actively developing strategies to harness the potential of emerging technologies such as edge computing and the much-hyped generative AI. However, it is the mainstream technologies such as data and analytics and cloud at scale that organizations believe will deliver the most powerful business benefits over the next five years.

“The eco-digital economy is unlike anything that has come before it, and society has harnessed only a fraction of the overarching potential that mainstream technologies such as cloud, AI, and automation hold,” said Fernando Alvarez, Chief Strategy and Development Officer at Capgemini and Group Executive Board member. “Organizations will need to leverage focused efficiencies in their core business, enabled by digital, in order to free up investment to support their dual transition. We are at the dawn of a new transformative era and we have only scratched the surface of how digital technologies can help expedite the delivery of substantial economic, environmental, and societal benefits.”

Efficient energy management through digital integration

In the past five years alone, implementing digital technologies has enabled organizations to reduce their energy consumption by almost a quarter (24%) and delivered a 21% reduction in GHG emissions. The report estimates that the reduction of global GHG emissions through the use of digital technologies by 2028 will outweigh the expected increase of emissions attributed to digital.

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