In the context of cultural change, the title of our latest sustainability re- port denominates the elimination or replacement of traditional habits. Figuratively speaking, this more than applies to digitalisation which can be seen as a kind of current digital evolution. It is no less than a mega trend of our time. Not entirely new, but extremely dynamic and — in more than one sense — characterised by sustainability. We can there- by not even decide whether we want to participate or not. For it will take place with or without us, and will without a shadow of a doubt shape our living conditions and development possibilities.
Because of its evolutionary and even disruptive effects, digitalisation is about to fundamentally change entire industries and business models as well as societal and personal conventions. No wonder then that it is often referred to as the fourth industrial revolution or Industry 4.0. In this context, we also frequently encounter the terms Internet of Things, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and big data.
It is obvious that information and communications technology plays a decisive role in this development. Also, it holds great potential — not only for a telecommunications provider such as Telekom Austria Group offering the foundations for such applications by providing in- frastructure and connectivity. Overall, digitalisation brings about im- mense opportunities for economic growth as well as varied ways of societal and individual development. At the same time, it shows where less may in fact represent progress: It promotes a more effi- cient, resource-saving and therefore more sustainable way of working and living in the interest of both people and the environment.
In the course of its transformation from a traditional telecommunica- tions provider to an ideal digitalisation partner, Telekom Austria Group, too, has committed to more efficiency, flexibility, security and sustainability. The latter plays a considerable role in this context, not least because of the fact that consumption of digital instead of physi- cal experience and interaction offerings can make significant contri- butions to resource conservation and environmental protection. In this sense, a sustainable ‘cultural change’ towards ‘using instead of owning’ and substituting physical resources such as hardware and data carriers with virtual resources such as cloud solutions mark a positive ‘devolution’ in the spirit of the report’s title.
Consequently, Telekom Austria Group commits to the targets of the triple bottom line of sustainable development (‘People, Planet, Profit’) — and not just because they secure its business activity in the long run, but also because it makes its management actively assume societal and environ- mental responsibility. The company’s express commitment to the UN Global Compact follows along the same line. Furthermore, Telekom Aus- tria Group has evaluated to which of the 17 targets pursuing a sustainable economical, social and ecological development passed by the United Na- tions in 2015 (Sustainable Development Goals or SDG) it can contribute with its initiatives (see Sustainable Development Goals).
To make sure such sustainability activity can unfold its maximum potential from the perspective of its stakeholders, Telekom Austria Group conducted another materiality analysis in the spring of 2017 (see Identifying topics in the context of sustainability). Highlights of the Group’s CSR commitment such as Internet for All which — with 124,000 participations — far exceeded its targets for 2016 were based on the action areas and objectives derived from said analysis. More- over, it will continue to consistently work on improving its energy ef- ficiency (2016 by 45 %).
When it comes to employees, it not only introduced a Group-wide so- cial media tool to further cooperation and know-how exchange (‘Work- place’, see Employees) in the year under review, but also subjected the company’s corporate culture and one of its core elements, the ‘Guiding Principles’ (see Employees), a quasi ‘digital evolution’ in 2016: They now also follow our common purpose of ‘Empowering Digital Life’.
ALEJANDRO PLATER, CEO & COO