Sometimes we have to ask a question in a whole new way in order to get new answers. When we explained our commitment towards sustainability at the last National Future Careers Day, one ten-year-old child asked, “does Swisscom have to do that?”
The fact is, all companies that are committed to sustainability do so voluntarily. For Swisscom, though, the commitment to sustainability in our core business is greater than it might seem at first glance. For us, people and their relationships are at the heart of everything we do: We bring people together, we network them, we create connections that span geographical distances and different disciplines – within our own company and across all of Switzerland. And when we say “all of Switzerland”, we mean even the most isolated valleys and mountain cabins.
That is how we build the foundation for sustainable solutions, such as the Internet of Things (IoT). When this concept is combined with artificial intelligence, many opportunities are created for improving the quality of our day-to-day lives and using resources intelligently. We refer to this vision as “Smart City”: a city in which, for instance, planners can analyse traffic flows better in real time using anonymised mobile phone data; a city where car parks are networked so drivers can be efficiently directed to available parking spots, thereby preventing unnecessary emissions caused when drivers have to aimlessly search for somewhere to park; and a city in which bins no longer overflow with rubbish because they automatically signal when they need to be emptied. In 2016, Swisscom put the foundation in place for the Smart City with the Low Power Network, a new network designed especially for the Internet of Things. Thus, the network is ready and sustainable solutions are no longer just visions, they are becoming a reality.
However, solutions to the current issues are not built on technology alone. As always, it is people and their skills that make technology and the options it provides successful. That is why Swisscom is endeavouring at all levels to prepare people for digitalisation. We are doing this throughout our organisation – starting with our 900 apprentices up through the continuing training of our older employees. We are doing it at schools, where every day 15 experts in media skills work to support educators in teaching students the basic principles of media use. And we are doing it together with Pro Senectute and at the Swisscom Academy for interested target groups comprising the older generation. Here, too, we create a network, establishing the mental connections that lay the ground on which new solutions grow.
Working together with partners is an element of this. In numerous discussions with customers, partners, politicians and authorities across all areas, we garnered numerous stimuli in 2017 that are driving us to seek new solutions and continuous further development. The mutual exchange of knowledge is a pillar of this effort – we share our experiences, for instance with regard to new working models, decentralised organisation and flexible work methods. We also look for solutions to improve working conditions in developing countries by making the supply chain fairer, for example. Although we are constantly making small improvements – by engaging in local dialogue, for instance – joint efforts by the whole international community are essential in this respect.
We therefore used the 17 global challenges defined by UN member states as a yardstick to measure ourselves by. Our analysis has shown that our sustainability strategy is on track. Our sustainability strategy is therefore in line with international efforts, while also suiting our own ambitious goals. Thinking and acting sustainably is essential for ensuring the long-term well-being of our country. At the same time, keeping Switzerland strong and healthy is the best way of ensuring the success of our business. This is how we explained it to our ten-year-old guest: we are doing this for all of us – working together to increase sustainability for a better future.
Head of Group Communication & Responsibility
Head of Corporate Responsibility