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People, Planet and Profit: the 3Ps driving the future of tech businesses

Published on August 25, 2021
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The concept of the “3Ps” – People, Planet and Profit – is not a new phenomenon but undoubtedly has gained momentum in recent years. It’s a framework applied across industries and sectors – and an increasing interest in sustainability has catapulted it high on the boardroom agenda. Sometimes referred to as the triple bottom line approach, the 3Ps guide businesses in determining future strategies, operations and models.

Underpinning the triple bottom line are environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics used to determine how ethical and sustainable an organisation is. According to McKinsey,1 companies with high ESG ratings consistently outperform the market in both the medium and long term. While sustainability strategies might be an investment in the short term, they do lead to long-term benefits.

That’s why it is the order of the 3Ps that counts – people and planet, then profit. Historically, profit was seen as the critical business success indicator and would often come first. In today’s dynamic business world, there is a growing awareness of other key metrics such as employee engagement, customer experience, purposeful leadership, diversity and inclusion, and employer branding, along with other ESG metrics.

There is no question that businesses are actively transforming to a model where profit derives from focusing on people and the sustainable policies.. For TAS, this has always been the case. In the first 10 years of our existence, we were a co-operative . We delivered ICT services on an aggregated basis for our customers. In our experience, we have found that there is a default profit outcome if you focus on people (customer, staff, community) and sustainable process. Adding consideration for the planet to this equation makes business outcomes even more impactful.

Knowing what success looks like

The pandemic has changed the business landscape in more ways than one and introduced uncertainty in virtually every industry, sector and market. It has forced businesses to evolve or pivot for future survival and has presented the perfect time for businesses to ask themselves: what does success look like today and tomorrow and how do you measure it?

At TAS we have been applying the 3Ps framework across our business in recent years, including relocating to purpose built data centres and migrating on-premises workload to the Azure cloud. We started by asking ourselves, what is “success”? And for us, it is delivering our clients the secure ICT system availability and support they require at scale and giving them peace of mind that their information security requirements are delivered. Defining success as a starting point helped us develop our strategy and roadmap, and guide what we do and how we do it.

People come first in our business

People are the priority in the TAS business – and the key is for business leaders to think more broadly about how they define “people”. It goes well beyond your direct employees; it is your customers, suppliers, communities and other stakeholders as well.

Looking outwards, you need to consider: how are you engaging with clients and other external stakeholders? How are you communicating and reporting results to them? Client satisfaction and customer experience are important indicators of business success for many organisations today – and rightly so, given their genuine and tangible impact on business performance. And, with the incredible speed at which information spreads thanks to the internet and social media, reputational risk should be one of your top concerns.

When it comes to your own people, staff engagement is one of top measures of success. Staff engagement affects productivity and efficiency, influences the company’s internal culture and functioning, and shapes your reputation as a potential employer. With the way technology is advancing, generalists alone are insufficient; specialists are required as well. This means fiercer competition for talent, so it’s vital to attract and retain the right people for the business – and employee engagement is an essential factor in this endeavour. This has been our experience as we have bolstered our team of specialists over the years to cater for specific specialised areas of digital infrastructure.

We must consider the planet

Thinking about the world around us has driven many of the business decisions we have made and continue to make. Climate disruption is of significant concern to everyone, everywhere, and corporations and individuals alike are working to reduce their carbon footprint to curb this impact.

TAS is committed to reducing our private cloud footprint across our two (2) data centres – and migrating specific workloads to the Azure cloud has helped us achieve this. We have minimised our footprint significantly while still delivering the same and in many cases improved services from the cloud.

There are many ways to prioritise the planet in your business. This includes making processes more efficient, using greener materials in manufacturing, cutting down on packaging and reducing waste, extending asset lifecycles and educating staff on the contributions they can make in the workplace and at home. For instance, TAS has helped several Australian financial services institutions to raise productivity and efficiency by enhancing existing processes and systems with robotic and automation technologies.

The Message: Profit is a derivative

When you focus equal attention on the 3Ps, profit is an outcome, not an objective that stands alone. The recipe for business success includes using a wide angle lens during the strategy process.

Business myopia in regard to the importance of profit as the key driver is being replaced with the recognition of our staff as a ‘tangible asset’ that is worthy of its own balance sheet category. Couple this with streamlining processes to improve the efficiency of business operations and remove mundane tasks from valuable employees and the recipe is almost complete. The need to understand and then identify our impacts on the planet is a normalised factor for all business strategists.

The social licence to operate

Social licence is an integral part of the 3Ps framework. People are no longer solely interested in your balance sheet. They want to know as much about your environmental policies and business plan when it comes to sustainability and your staff wellbeing program

These days, candidates are likely to ask a prospective employer, what is your business doing to reduce its carbon footprint? What are your plans to create a more sustainable business and beyond? How are you dealing with the challenges created by your business on the environment and planet generally?

Our recipe for business success has shifted to include a balanced portfolio of ingredients (the 3Ps) which in the hands of competent leaders delivers a very appetising menu.

For more blogs see here.

Author

Tony Greene

Chief Financial Officer and Group Company Secretary

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