Sustainability, ESG & Energy 4.0 – Digital Transformation for Energy Companies

Sustainability and Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) are top of mind for businesses, investors, political leaders, and consumers. 

In an April 2022 study by Mintel, 71% of Canadians identify as 'sustainable consumers' and 82% acknowledge their actions have a global impact. According to the most recent EY Future Consumer Index, a large majority of consumers (68%) are looking to retailers and other businesses to drive the sustainability agenda and commit financially to ensuring positive outcomes.

In Canada, the 2022 budget section on “Climate Disclosures for Federally Regulated Institutions” moved towards mandatory reporting of climate-related financial risks across a broad spectrum of the Canadian economy. 

Most of the companies listed on the Canadian TSX also publish their Sustainability Plans and have Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) ratings. In the US, more than 90% of S&P 500 companies now publish ESG reports, as do approximately 70% of Russell 1000 companies (“Sustainability Reporting in Focus,” G&A Institute, 2021.)  

At Charter, we are committed to Sustainability and recently have invested in new partnerships and expertise focused on helping enterprises achieve their Sustainability and ESG goals with Digital Transformation. This post will share with you our investments and the new Energy 4.0 services we can now provide to help the Energy Industry with Sustainability, ESG, and Digital Transformation.

First, some definitions of Sustainability, ESG, and Digital Transformation.

Sustainability is defined by the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out by the United Nations in 2015. 

These SDGs define 17 global sustainable-development priorities and aspirations for 2030; and seek to mobilize global efforts around a common set of goals and targets. The SDGs present an opportunity for business-led solutions and technologies to be developed and implemented to address the world’s biggest sustainable-development challenges. (For example, “Climate Action” is goal 13).

More information on the United Nations’ SDGs can be access at the following link:

ESG is an acronym coined in 2005 that stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance. Generally, ESG ratings measure a company’s exposure to industry-specific sustainability risks and how well it manages those risks.

This is how ESG is defined by McKinsey & Company:

  • Environmental - Addresses impact on the physical environment and the risk of a company and its suppliers/partners from climate events,
  • Social - Addresses social impact and associated risk from societal actions, employees, customers, and the communities where it operates,
  • Governance - Assesses timing and quality of decision making, governance structure, and the distribution of rights and responsibilities across different stakeholder groups, in service of positive societal impact and risk mitigation.

Digital Transformation is using digital technology to accelerate innovation for people and the transformation of business processes. Central to digital transformation is empathy for the customer and transforming their experience using Human Centered Design and Design Thinking. Digital Transformation is taking place in every industry; and for Manufacturing, that started about 2011 in Germany with the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0 (Industrie 4.0). In addition to Manufacturing, Industry 4.0 is being applied to Medical, Healthcare, Information Technology, Transportation, Logistics and Services, and now Energy.

Energy 4.0

Charter’s Energy 4.0 is our Digital Transformation service platform for the Energy vertical - and is based on the Industry 4.0 model with the addition of our unique capabilities, such as Business Architecture and Design Thinking.

We are focused on helping Energy companies with their business priorities and business challenges, which are summarized in the following list:

  • Business Priority: Sustainability/ESG | Business Challenge: Consumers’ and investor’s negative view of energy companies.
  • Business Priority: Health & Safety | Business Challenge: The safety and well-being of employees and contractors is fundamental to success.
  • Business Priority: Regulatory Reporting & Compliance | Business Challenge: Must comply with Regulators but regulations are constantly evolving.
  • Business Priority: Government Policy | Business Challenge: Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act.
  • Business Priority: Supply Chain | Business Challenge: Shortages of steel, fittings, and parts delay projects
  • Business Priority: Human Resource Management | Business Challenge: Talent shortage, aging workforce.
  • Business Priority: Cyber Security | Business Challenge: Advanced threat actors are targeting OT devices and systems
  • Business Priority: Operational Excellence | Business Challenge: Oil and gas prices are unpredictable.

Energy 4.0 is focused on 5 strategic areas:

  1. Digitalization - Digital business roadmap that includes IT and OT (IIoT)
  2. Data management strategy – includes hybrid workplace, AI, analytics, and cybersecurity that supports observability, reporting, and policy compliance
  3. Diversified supply chain – all suppliers must incorporate ledger technology to enable Blockchain and provide end-to-end integration and optimization
  4. Design Thinking – think ‘outside the box’ to go beyond historical approaches to dealing with volatility and running the business - including critical items such as HR management and worker health and safety
  5. Defense-in-Depth – Cyber security for OT and IT environments

The value of an Energy 4.0 plan will be immediate, as management teams will be able to better see the cost/benefit analysis of implementing secure, technology-based solutions to address business issues such as the hybrid workplace, IT/OT convergence, supply chain management, regulatory reporting/compliance, and sustainability/ESG performance. Improved access to data will lead to better business insights and predictions, boost efficiency, productivity, and capacity planning, plus enable collaboration internally as well as with ecosystem partners. 

Research by industry experts, such as the Harvard Business Review, McKinsey & Company, and others also support the benefits of investing in digital transformation for Energy.

Harvard Business Review reported that companies that embrace the technology, capability, and architecture plans identified in Energy 4.0 correlate with measures of performance from productivity and profits to growth in enterprise value.

Mckinsey & Company published the following regarding technology transformation in Oil and Gas:

“Upstream companies are capturing additional value worth more than $5 per barrel of oil equivalent (BOE), using high-impact use cases in three key areas: tech-enabled exploration and drilling, end-to-end well and reservoir management, and condition-based maintenance. 

For downstream companies, end-to-end hydrocarbon optimization, reliability excellence, supply chain digitization, B2B commercial excellence, and digitally enabled B2C programs have helped to deliver cost savings of more than $1 per barrel, while also boosting asset availability and increasing profitability (see sidebar, “Quantifying the impact from eight value-creation themes across the oil and gas value chain”).”

For more information on these topics, Energy 4.0 and how the Charter team can help you realize benefits for your business, please contact Wade Crick ( or Mark George (

Note: The Energy 4.0 graphic was created using DALL·E 2.  It is a new AI system that can create realistic images and art from a description in natural language.

About the author

As the Principal Business Architect for Charter, Wade is responsible for leading the business architecture practice and enabling digital transformation for Charter and its customers.    Wade combines his knowledge of technology, industry, and business trends to accelerate digital innovation for the Energy, Resources, and Industrial Markets.

Wade has four decades of experience with IT hardware, software, programming, consulting, operations, and design. Prior to joining Charter, he held positions at Cisco, PCL Construction, Bay Networks/Nortel, SHL Systemhouse and Digital Equipment Corporation.  A lifelong learner, Wade is a certified Enterprise Architect, Business Architect and recently completed his certification in Industry 4.0: How to Revolutionize your Business.