How and Why GreenTech Will Eat The World

Pacman W More Of An Outline

Software Ate The World

And Now GreenTech Will Do the Same

It was a prescient statement in 2011 that “software is eating the world” by Marc Andreesen.

The appetite for software has continued unabated from that time and has become the overwhelming focus of business spend and growth. It is intrinsic to any and all initiatives in enterprises, start-ups, governments, or militaries.

If you break down how and why software ate the world, there are some inevitable conclusions, and also guide us on the next big “feast” that will occur across the business.

Intrinsic and Participatory

Software is not a nice to have enhancement: it is at the guts of any business and its processes. Similarly, on the consumer side it is part of our daily lives. Consider your most critical connectivity / comms / social device – your smartphone – that is now considered “90 percent software, and 10 percent hardware”.

Software is so intrinsic to the business and our daily lives that IT as a function has largely become a custodian. The IT leadership in most companies maintains the network and core infrastructure, but gone are the days of IT dictating what specific applications and software that Marketing, Sales, Product Engineering, or Strategy and Planning use. Business units and functions decide on what supporting software they need in order to execute and compete. Software thus became not only intrinsic to the business, but “participatory” across the entire organization. Everybody uses common infrastructure and apps and then utilizes specific software at their functional level. Software quite simply is everywhere and at the heart of any company and its activities.

And GreenTech* will follow an adoption even rivalling that of software!

Valuation and Measurement

The ubiquity of software has been significantly driven by the explicit value that it drives for the business, and its measurement. We no longer think in terms of monolithic, standalone apps such as ERP and years-long estimates of bottom-line impact. It is now a continuous alignment between the company business unit’s end goals, and the software-based initiative.

What business impact and outcomes will the software drive? What is the cost of delay or if we don’t make the investment?

Thus “valuation” of what software delivers is a clear and recognized process across organizations. It guides us on how and where to invest, and what to expect in terms of impact. And because it is now so integral to companies and their ability to execute, it is a key competitive driver and differentiator.

Process and Integration

The ability to implement, consume, and maintain software became more and more efficient over time. It evolved from “programs” and monolithic systems to the building of apps that live on the edge, and interact with distributed systems. Software development and implementation moved through phases such as “Agile” and “scrum” and eventually concepts such as “DevOps”.

These modular, faster, methods meant clearer processes for how to build and deliver software. And any software necessarily interacts and integrates into existing processes and applications. It is interoperable and delivered across an incredibly rich ecosystem, interacting with components such as IoT and big data. This maturation around process and delivery of software has led it to being the greatest source of start-ups, wealth creation, and new Categories that we have seen in the history of business.

And these are key learnings that we can apply to how and why GreenTech will evolve and be adopted across the business as well as our daily lives.

Great leaders know that under the turmoil of chaos and change, there is a beauty of patterns and designs.

Let’s start with “Intrinsic and Participatory”, the first major factor in software eating the world.

From a GreenTech perspective the adoption and impact and will be felt across:


  • Candidates and new recruits will increasingly push the recruiter / employer on the company’s GreenTech agenda and results. This is accelerating as a pressure as demographic groups such as GenZ are very focused, and vocal on this.
  • Employee Engagement is a key issue (e.g. quiet quitting; great resignation…) and has a bottom-line financial impact. Ample research and findings validate that Engagement is improved with a sense that the company is actively “doing good” and has a common purpose.

Business Unit and Management

  • Business units and line-management are under pressure to deliver continual efficiencies and improved performance. Technologies such as Process Mining not only uncover inefficient processes, but also have implications for carbon reduction or green and more efficient mobility.
  • These “wins” at business unit level can be rolled up into the broader corporate GreenTech progress, with a positive impact therefore on business unit performance and recognition.

Executive Leadership

  • ESG has now become a common component to overall corporate planning, execution and communications. And while it is a useful early stage framework for sustainable growth targets (carbon footprint metrics; diversity and inclusion), it is clearly still evolving and lacks standardization.
  • New models and metrics will evolve with the top leadership acutely concerned and involved in understanding how to execute with a cleaner / greener footprint, as well as communicate internally / externally around its efforts.


  • Whether current or potential, investors are keenly sensitive to the sustainability and GreenTech positioning of the company. This focus and expectation will only continue to grow and pressure adoption of GreenTech across companies.

GreenTech will be inexorably driven across the company, and like software, become intrinsic to operations.

Valuation and Measurement

The massive, continual adoption of software was driven by an ever clearer ability to define its value. With valuation and metrics, clear decisions around trade-offs, bottom-line impact, and investment can be made. Execution and implementation leads to results, which in turn are communicated and the cycle goes on.

Is GreenTech here yet? No. But think about how software evolved, and how clear process, metrics and Categories emerged, and the massive economics that were driven.

To look at potential drivers around new ways of modelling and valuation, consider two leading areas of thought: Dasgupta and Doughnuts

Partha Dasgupta’s ground-breaking work focuses on the real valuation of what we consume. For example the true cost of the power we consume? Or the full impact and cost of a consumer good we use? There is huge momentum around this new microeconomic thinking and models.

It will be industry’s true Innovators and Category Designers who take on and solve this problem in terms of modelling, process, and technology enablers. GreenTech will be valued in the context of the entirety of resources used and impacted.

In parallel the concept of the traditional circular-flow diagram of an economy and GDP is being challenged. Historical mapping of resource and transaction flow do not capture the energy or the materials on which the economy depends, nor the society in which those activities develop. A new, macroeconomic approach gaining traction is the “doughnut economy” where thinking and a visual framework for sustainable development is presented – shaped like a doughnut– combining the concept of planetary resources and thus a boundary in which we must operate and live.

In either of the above new ways of thinking, we have the ecosystem around us, and the need to rethink the valuation of resources and full impact we are making. Innovators and creators in GreenTech who define these new models will unleash tremendous new wealth, technologies and Category Leadership.

Process and Integration

The delivery models and enterprise-wide integration that today are associated with software will also need to mature and manifest for GreenTech. These initiatives need to be interoperable with other company systems and seemlessly feed into the company’s data, tracking and reporting.

Innovations and technologies such as Process Mining which uncover inefficiencies (and the opportunity to lower carbon footprint) are examples of how GreenTech can be adopted and accelerated. But this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Because of the magnitude of the problem (and financial upside) innovators and creators will make GreenTech easier and easier to adopt, and measure. There will be new Categories that emerge around this problem solving.

And history shows that the ones who design the Categories are usually the ones who end up leading them!

Our economies are embedded within Nature, not external to it

Software has been driven by internal efficiencies, and has become integral to the “guts” of a company.

GreenTech is driven from the opposite direction – the outside in. We only need to look around us, or read the news to understand how big this will be. So let’s learn from history, and create some legendary new companies and Categories in the GreenTech space!

*GreenTech defined as: Net Zero Cities; Clear Air / Carbon Capture; Low Carbon Mobility; Recycling / Circular Resources; Clean Energy and Efficiency.

Also published on e27


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