Ecosystem Leaders

Episode 160

December 21, 2022

#160 Alec Saunders: Ecosystems in the Age of Sustainability

On this edition of Ecosystem Aces, Alec Saunders, the Worldwide Sustainability Partner Strategy Leader at Microsoft and  Chip Rodgers have an ...

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Joining Chip Rodgers on this episode of Ecosystem Aces is Alec Saunders, Worldwide Sustainability Partner Strategy Leader at Microsoft.

On the podcast, Alec and Chip discussed creating sustainable ecosystems, specifically elaborating on the following topics:

  • Microsoft on Sustainability
  • Market Transformation
  • Sustainability as a Data Issue
  • Ecosystems in the Age of Sustainability

Microsoft on Sustainability

Microsoft has been on a sustainability journey for many years. The company's move into sustainability covers its products, operations, infrastructures, and even its ecosystem of partners. Once the pending SEC sustainability rules in North America and CSRD rules in Europe (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive) are fully implemented, companies will be forced to report to sustainability metrics - and Microsoft is already making decisions to be ahead of the market and help their partners in this journey. 

Market Transformation

Microsoft's customers have varied approaches toward sustainability. A quarter of their clients are already very advanced in their sustainability reporting, while some are still calculating their metrics on spreadsheets.

Large companies are already looking at the sustainability and climate-awareness trend as an opportunity to transform their business.  Most companies recruit advisors for environmental consulting and proceed to various management consulting groups to create a sustainable business plan. Once these companies develop a plan, they look for technology from IT companies to help them run it. 

Sustainability as a Data Issue

Alec shared that at the heart of the issue, managing sustainability is still all about understanding data. Microsoft provides customers with data on how to reduce their energy footprint and aid in sustainability practices.

Microsoft is partnering with various companies with physical plants, especially those working in energy generation and manufacturing. There’s a need to map measurement activities, especially in reporting against the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. Microsoft gathers data about greenhouse gas emissions by measuring the energy footprint of these companies' equipment. 

 Using Technology to Solve Sustainability Problems

The market strongly believes in technology to solve sustainability problems. It’s about automating and optimizing sustainable business processes. Almost $86 billion in venture capital has been dedicated to climate tech startups–nearly 18% of 2021's total venture capital. The investment community sees it as a big victory.

Alec used Ontario Power Generation in Canada as the best example of how technology can aid sustainability.  The company has been using a mix of nuclear and hydropower energy generation, making 90% of its power emission-free. However, they weren't sure how to price their power generation model, especially its possible across-the-grid use in Upstate New York and the Eastern Seaboard.

Microsoft built an AI solution for spot pricing and selling optimization for Ontario Power, and now the company is reporting billions of dollars in profit, and is helping other companies reduce their carbon footprints. According to Alec, the transition from on-prem operations to cloud operations is essential, as it could create a 95-98% emission reduction

ISV companies and IoT solutions play a huge role in the push for sustainability. ISV partners enable data collaboration for sustainability tools and create transparency across the supply and value chain, specifically for digital products. They also optimize the routing of physical assets that significantly contribute to fuel and energy emissions.

Ecosystems in the Age of Sustainability

Sustainability changes how companies should approach partnerships. Microsoft helps enterprise clients characterize emissions and carbon footprints associated with their businesses. This characterization is used to create new business models to reduce emissions. 


Because of this, Microsoft is geared towards partnering with companies within specific industries. They can gather more data within the industry, including its supply chains and business operations, to provide sustainable solutions to their clients.

 Wrapping Up

With his expertise in sustainability and partnership, Alec has two things in mind he'd like to share with everyone. The first is always to think about the economic side of partnerships.


Secondly, companies should consider the emission reduction trajectory and create sustainable ecosystems. The world is about to do a big energy transition in just 30 years for 7.5 billion people.

Experts say that our deadline for a sustainable future is in 2030, and according to Alec, there's still an astounding amount of work to be done. 

Follow Alec Saunders on Linkedin to stay updated on her work with Microsoft Sustainability.

Links & Resources

The latest Workspan Insights, straight to your inbox

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

The latest Workspan Insights, straight to your inbox

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.