We hosted the 2020 Net Impact Conference here at the University of Michigan over the weekend. My panel on IS and Environmental Sustainability filled our meeting space: seems that there is growing interest and recognition that information systems is already and will continue to play a significant role in enabling solutions and transforming environmental practices in business organizations. Regarding the latter, I’ve just completed a revision for a book chapter on this topic (book title is “Oxford Handbook of Business and the Environment,” published by Oxford University Press). Here’s the opening paragraph, which sums up my point of view from a research perspective:
We live in an increasingly digital world, yet the scholarly discourse on business and the natural environment has proceeded, for the most part, according to business as usual. Perhaps this was reasonable in earlier eras, when information systems (IS) played only a modest role in enabling business processes, such as the use of decision support systems to support regulatory compliance. However, in the Internet era IS has shifted from being an enabler to being transformative. Gen Y grew up on the Internet, lives on texting and Twitter, and expects all aspects of their lives to be as digitally and socially networked as Facebook and YouTube. Indeed, from music to financial services, industry after industry is being transformed by digital business innovations. Is digital business poised to transform environmental sustainability, and if so, how? In this chapter, I will examine this question.