Press Release

STAMFORD, Conn., July 21, 2011 View All Press Releases

Gartner Says Improving Sustainability Will Become a Top Five Priority for 60 Percent of Major Western European and North American CEOs by 2015

Sustainability will play an increasing role in organizations' financial and operational performance, according to Gartner, Inc. By 2015, improving sustainability related performance will become a top five priority for 60 percent of major Western European and North American CEOs.

Gartner analysts said sustainability is no longer primarily about risk mitigation, focused on compliance, reputation, philanthropy, the "triple bottom line" and being seen as doing good things. In practical terms, for most enterprises today, the value in sustainability is actually derived from operational efficiency and business enablement.

Sustainability’s enhanced corporate value will be enabled by a maturing set of information systems and decision support tools that facilitate the engagement of the CFO and the finance team.

“Sustainability is no longer a ‘soft’ and tangential aspect to organization performance,” said Simon Mingay, research vice president at Gartner. “A sustainable approach to business activities is generating tangible business benefits for organizations today, through a combination of operational efficiencies and market growth opportunities.”

Improved financial and operational performance is achieved by optimizing the use of increasingly expensive natural resources, minimizing the value lost through waste and emissions, and exploiting the increasing fiscal incentives and tax breaks — particularly those for energy efficiency. Business enablement is achieved by exploiting the emerging market opportunities of a low-carbon economy.

As perspectives continue to evolve, it is also about meeting the expectations of investors, customers, employees and other key stakeholders, by making better-informed decisions that explicitly balance commercial, environmental and social performance standards and criteria. Gartner analysts said information-enabled processes and technologies will be a key enabler in achieving all these elements, providing a lens into organizational performance that is highly fragmented.

"For many consumer-facing and resource-intensive industry sectors, we anticipate a steady shift in the strategic intent of sustainability from operational efficiency to more of a core capability directly impacting products and services," said Mr. Mingay. "Although many CFOs have historically been skeptical of the financial or business enablement value of sustainability, volatile and escalating resource costs — most notably, energy costs — along with changing customer, consumer and investor expectations in many developed economies, are changing the value equation."

While IT can continue to improve its own energy efficiency, the much bigger opportunity is applying IT to analyze, optimize, manage and otherwise improve the sustainability performance of the business itself. The applications of IT are many, and they are highly contextual according to the industry sector.

Recurring themes continue to include the easy and obvious, such as the use of remote-collaboration tools for travel substitution, and increased building utilization and efficiency, workplace management and remote working. However, increasingly IT is being employed in more sophisticated and complex situations, including manufacturing process re-engineering, real-time automation and control in production environments, real-time route optimization for vehicles, natural resource management and optimization, management of the supply chain, and business analytics, all of which deliver efficiencies and reduce costs.

"One factor that has limited the traction of sustainability programs by the CFO and finance team, in particular, has been the lack of frameworks, systems and tools, which expose sustainability-related performance data and practices, provide decision support, and connect sustainability performance to financial performance," Mr. Mingay said. "Such tools enable the CFO and the finance team to bring to bear their analytical skills on the issue of sustainability, and assist in making better-informed and more-balanced decisions that include the evaluation of sustainability and risk in the decision-making process."

Additional information is available in the Gartner report "CFO Advisory: The Impact of Sustainability on Enterprise Performance." The report is available on Gartner's website at

About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT), is the world's leading research and advisory company and a member of the S&P 500. We equip business leaders with indispensable insights, advice and tools to achieve their mission-critical priorities and build the successful organizations of tomorrow.

Our unmatched combination of expert-led, practitioner-sourced and data-driven research steers clients toward the right decisions on the issues that matter most. We're trusted as an objective resource and critical partner by more than 15,000 organizations in more than 100 countries—across all major functions, in every industry and enterprise size.

To learn more about how we help decision makers fuel the future of business, visit

Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.