ConclusiON! event report: Ecosystem thinking helps to secure a sustainable future
On 8 June, it was time for ConclusiON! 2023. Together with over 350 customers, partners, colleagues, and other attendees, we deliberated on the best way to help shape the world of tomorrow. The central theme was how ecosystem thinking helps to secure a sustainable future. Because like everything at Conclusion, we like to do things together. This includes shaping a sustainable future. Not only we, but also our customers see the need to collaborate in ecosystems when solving one of the biggest societal challenges we are facing today. Various speakers from companies in different sectors shared their experiences in which ecosystem thinking and supply chain cooperations played a central role. We highlight a few of them below.
July 4th, 2023 | News | By: Conclusion
Eneco: sustainable energy
Eneco is committed to sustainability and wants to be a frontrunner in this field. The energy company aims to be completely CO2 neutral by 2035. To fulfil this ambition, the company is undertaking various steps which Folkert Reitsma, Eneco’s Chief Information Officer, explained during his keynote speech. One example he presented was the optimization of the supply of reserve capacity in order to maintain balance in the power grid. ‘We have been able to achieve fantastic results in this area, based on cooperation in the supply chain and by leveraging one another’s strengths,’ Folkert explained. And that is precisely what Eneco does.
He gave the example of the implementation of a Virtual Power Plant (VPP). Folkert told us: ‘Optimizing all different kinds of energy-producing assets gives rise to many challenges. Electricity cannot be stored, while, at the same time, there is increasing variability in supply and demand due to the addition of renewable assets to the energy system. Eneco is therefore working 24/7 to optimize the use of these assets in an automated manner.’ The VVP was implemented in cooperation with several companies in the Conclusion ecosystem. They analyse data from all assets so that electricity can be generated as sustainably as possible, to match current demand. Optimum use is made of the wind, solar, and gas energy portfolio on the basis of price or capacity incentives. We can achieve enormous benefits in terms of CO2 reduction by controlling wind and solar farms, instead of gas-fired plants.
A decent food chain
In addition to a sustainable sleeping environment and sustainable energy, something else that makes a difference is sustainable food. This is an area that Boerschappen is working on. The supplier of meal kits delivers fresh groceries to customers every day, straight from the farm. Stijn Markusse, the company’s owner, wants to show how things can be done differently and that agricultural practices can be adapted to transform our food system. His view is that the food chain has become extremely complicated and that food without unnecessary and unhealthy additives is virtually impossible to find. The company’s mission? To provide nourishing food from a decent food chain. ‘A chain that is beneficial to everything and everyone involved. Not only customers and farmers, but also the soil, biodiversity, air, and water,’ Stijn explained.
myBrand Conclusion is the team of experts in the Conclusion ecosystem helping them with this mission. In order to manage the purchasing, distribution, production, and sales process effectively, a solid IT foundation is crucial. That is why myBrand Conclusion built the core application for the organization based on OutSystems. ‘We consciously chose to develop the backend ourselves to ensure that the software can move in line with the direction our company is taking,’ Stijn continued. This IT foundation provides Boerschappen with one factual source for figures, saving a huge amount of time, discussion, and waste. It also makes it easier for the organization to achieve its mission: to develop a new ultra-short food chain that benefits all parties involved.
The role of ecosystems in our prosperity
Alycia Biekram, Manager of Sustainability and Social Impact at Facilicom talked to those present about the role of biodiversity and ecosystems in safeguarding our prosperity. ‘Biodiversity is related to everything: food, raw materials, well-being and happiness, as well our health and climate.’ Alycia spoke about how nature is one big – circular – ecosystem in its own right, and that we have to look after it. She believes that the ecosystem of nature requires balance and that we, as humans, have gone too far. And this needs to change because we are playing a dangerous game. ‘Not necessarily for our planet, as it will continue without us, but for ourselves,’ Alycia explained. ‘If we want to continue existing, we need to appreciate what nature can offer us and understand that every part of it is important.’
‘Nature doesn’t need us, but we do need nature,’ Alycia continued. She pointed out that no less than half of our world economy is dependent upon nature. And that if we took better care of nature, it would ultimately help us improve our prosperity. It is high time we made changes, both at individual and at company level. Alycia also gave us some tips. One example she mentioned relates to green spaces. ‘Replace non-functional paved areas with green solutions or semi-paving.’ There is also much that can be gained in the food system, with the right chain cooperations. Facilicom itself collaborates with local buyers and producers and they work with sustainable products wherever possible. ‘Every step counts,’ Alycia stressed, encouraging those present to take action themselves. She also warned to always involve someone who has the right knowledge. So that you can be sure that you are doing something that actually helps.
Hans van Grieken rounded off the afternoon. He, too, emphasized the importance of change, particularly in the IT sector. ‘It doesn’t happen automatically; we have to do it by working together. Because even if IT is the enabler of sustainability transformation, the negative impact of IT on the environment should not be underestimated and is no less significant than that of the aviation industry. The e-waste supply chain, for example, has become one of the biggest and fastest growing in the world. The explosive growth in cloud storage and applications worldwide has led to tremendous demand for energy, which will only increase further with the fast-growing applications relating to Artificial Intelligence and Large Language Models.’ Van Grieken introduced the recently published book Sustainable IT Playbook for Technology Leaders as a practical guide for identifying problems, defining improvement goals and making them measurable. Lastly, Hans linked the ‘to-do list’ in this Sustainability in IT analysis to the Conclusion TWO model (Technology, Way of working, Organization). He explained, ‘The IT Playbook helps you to identify your key Sustainable IT initiatives. Conclusion’s TWO model will then help you develop a sustainable digital DNA - new ways of building and maintaining software that are Sustainable by Design. As part of the tech sector, we have our own responsibilities in this area so let’s take them.’ This is something that Conclusion wholeheartedly agrees with.