Accelerating Sustainability and GreenTech Adoption

Code And Plant

If you are reading this then you no doubt also have a sense of urgency as we observe and digest what is happening to our climate and planet.   

The inevitable question then becomes “how can we collectively work together to make a difference?”.

To further break this down, we must include Southeast Asia (and its cities) in the solution.  

Why?    Consider these immutable drivers:

  • It is the highest growth region globally for population and city growth.
  • The demographic bulge is around a very young population (compare that to ageing regions such as North Asia, Europe or North America).
  • It adds the equivalent of a New York City every 6 weeks in new urban sprawl.
  • Cities account for 75% of global CO2 emissions (but are only 3% of total land-mass).

If we don’t get SE Asia “right” then our global environmental issue can’t be demonstrably solved and improved upon.  

With SE Asia so critical, what models or precedents can we observe and potentially adopt to accelerate sustainability and GreenTech?

Consider how software (SW) evolved in only the last few decades.  It is now not only the overwhelming majority of capital spend and investment for businesses, but also ubiquitous and integral to our personal lives and our consumption of both services and products.

But it was only a couple  decades ago that SW was in monolothic (say ERP) isolated stacks.  It was only specific IT members with deep domain expertise who understood the tech and its usage.  

This looks very similar to today’s GreenTech solutions.  It’s difficult to understand areas such as  “carbon footprint and management”, “waste to fuel”, or “hydrogen power”.  What are the categories around these that are relevant for my business or as an employee?  How and where should I start?   Am I making the right decisions on the tech and how do I create an overall integrated architecture that makes sense?

Software presents a very compelling example and set of learnings in this regard.

Firstly,  SW and its impact and relevance was continually and simply explained to us.  We were “conditioned” around “what problem it solves”.  From this problem, we then began to understand this new category.   This is a critical step in adoption, because we think in categories.  

A simple example of this is our neighbourhood supermarket.   It is not organized alphabetically (or pictograms etc.).  It is in categories.  And if we were to jump into a time machine, and go back to our supermarket 20 years ago, many of the today’s categories (“vegan”; “non-gluten”; “energy drinks”) wouldn’t exist.   If we take that same time machine to 20 years in the future, we will see many new categories that we never thought of….that we never thought we needed!  This is because we have been conditioned (and explained to) around why the categories (based on a  problem) are relevant to us.

Switching back to SW, we see how clear categories evolved.  In fact an entire industry (tech analysts such as Gartner, Forrester, IDC) formed to tell us what those categories are, and who the respective leaders are in each of them.   

This meant that both IT and the business functions could talk about “architecture”.  What key problems are we targeting and how will we architect and combine the categories of SW needed?   

This is in an ecosystem where solutions can be integrated and inter-operate with each other (and “system integrators” are another whole industry based on this).

We are clearly not “there” yet with sustainability and GreenTech:

  • The solutions are still very dense to understand for the broad set of internal employees, or external users.   They are thus not clear “categories” yet.
  • They are largely stand-alone and do not easily integrate into a multi-component  ecosystem.
  • From a business or individual standpoint, it is difficult to see why I  would adopt  and benefit from this solution.
  • ESG, while at least a broad-based framework, is open to interpretation with a convoluted set of components (such as diversity and inclusion).

For GreenTech start-ups and innovators to flourish and become as ubiquitous as SW they  must “condition” and explain to us the core problem being solved and why it is relevant  to us.  This is a “point of view” rather that the product and its tech specs.  Within this POV tell us what this new category is.

And a category cannot exist as one company.  There has to be an ecosystem of partners, channels, regulatory agencies, API’s, data flows (the list goes on).

For real change and impact in SE Asia and its urban growth we must move from isolated product and tech, to clear categories and their surrounding ecosystems.  This is a massive opportunity  for GreenTech start-ups and innovators to seize category and market leadership.

The critical context and impact of SE Asia in climate and sustainability around this has never been greater.  

As business leaders, investors and advisors we must encourage GreenTech start-ups and guide them on how to elevate their category strategy, and the accompanying ecosystem mapping and execution.

It’s about designing the future, and not just following!

Carpe Diem – Let’s go make a difference!

This article also appeared in e27 with a modified title:

#CategoryDesign #GreenTech #Sustainability #climate  #EcosystemStrategy


The Out-Position team has experience and a track-record that you can leverage and catalyse for your category strategy and design.

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We work alongside you for this design-thinking process, from the problem clarity and category defined, to a powerful point of view.