The urgent conversations around sustainability and carbon reduction have moved from the water cooler to the boardroom – and the C-Suite is increasingly looking to IT to help shape change. But why does the onus fall here? And what can IT leaders do to make sustainability goals a reality?
This year, Earth Overshoot Day – the date by which we exhausted the planet’s renewable resources – fell on July 29th. It’s no surprise then, that we’re constantly being reminded of the urgency around sustainability; from supermarkets charging for plastic bags and reducing packaging, to car manufacturers pushing electric vehicles, ‘sustainability’ has become a ubiquitous word.
For businesses, sustainability has naturally found its way to the top of many priority lists – not just because of the threat of sanctions, but also the potential for innovation, solidarity in partnerships, and the reality that Millennial and Gen Z employees are after socially conscious organisations to work for. In fact, 70% of millennials reported that they preferred to work for companies with a ‘strong sustainability agenda’; it’s now about retaining talent as much as it’s about retaining profit.
But where does IT come into the equation? And why are boards specifically turning to this department to help them to achieve their sustainability ambitions?
How IT Influences Sustainability
While each organisation will have its own reason for approaching different departments about their roles in the sustainability challenge, it can widely be assumed that IT leaders are tapped to participate for one of two reasons:
- because IT and its associated hardware has previously had a bad reputation for consuming resources
- because the most sure-fire way out of a problem is to apply forward-thinking technology – something IT have a great deal of experience in
On the former point, the likes of data centres, server farms, and devices have all drawn criticism in the past for the amount of resources required to build, manage, and maintain such hardware. In 2020, the digital sector was observed to have been responsible for 2.3% of greenhouse gases worldwide, with 1% of the planet’s energy consumption taken up by data centres. As such, eyes naturally turn to IT leaders to find ways of delivering the same service with a reduced carbon output.
Elsewhere, organisations are calling on IT to draw upon on the department’s inherent innovation. The result is teams capitalising on clever new ways of working and newer technologies to bring the business closer to its goals. In the age of remote working, this is particularly pertinent, with new solutions available to enable remote working while reducing the environmental cost of commuting workers, on-premises solutions, and technological wastage.
This insight into the technology on offer, as well as how it can best be utilised, places IT leaders in the coveted role of an influencer – with this appointment further supported by positive changes in how tech giants engage with sustainability.
Microsoft, for example, has been carbon neutral since 2012, and has now shifted its goal to becoming carbon negative by 2030. This pledge has been underpinned by the emergence of initiatives such as Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, which allows organisations to better consider the impact of the cloud, and the continuous development of the Azure platform – an alternative that is 93% more energy-efficient and 98% more carbon efficient than on-premises solutions.
Surveil at Your Side
Having the technology in your corner, however, is only one step in a much longer journey, which includes optimising its usage and applying its capabilities to different areas of the business.
Inevitably at this juncture, we’re bringing our cloud asset management platform, Surveil, into the conversation. That’s because we’ve worked hard to develop organisational benefits rooted in sustainability, putting the intelligence and recommendations for sustainability success at the fingertips of IT leaders.
Surveil achieves this by:
- Highlighting potential cloud cost reductions, allowing for reinvestment of resources and expenditure, while reducing energy needs
- Thwarting asset wastage by highlighting usage of solutions, identities, and devices across the organisation
- Providing insight into remote working and commuting, empowering employers to better manage their teams’ individual contributions to carbon output
- Informing new initiatives through AI-generated business insights, recommendations, and reports – all visible in a single-pane-of-glass view.
- Presenting this information in tailored dashboards, providing insights into sustainability efforts tied to Microsoft 365 and Azure environments in one clear, easy-to-grasp view.
As Microsoft Gold Partners, we’re proud to support Microsoft’s sustainability goals, including sustainability initiatives both in our internal work, and in our Surveil offering. We also understand its importance to partners and users, which encourages us to further develop the platform to meet evolving needs – and to play our own role in sustainability.
What You Have & How You Use It
Ultimately, the key takeaway is this: ensuring sustainability is down to both the technology you have, and the way you use it – and the IT department are the best positioned to ensure this happens.
Acknowledging this puts IT leaders in a position of immense influence, offering their organisation the knowledge, experience, and technological proximity to be a little more green. So, while all departments have a role to play, it looks like the IT department’s innovation will put them in a key role – luckily, we’re in good hands.