Championing a tech-driven path to sustainability

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In the context of the global movement for action on climate change, sustainability credentials have shifted from being ‘nice to have’ to a ‘need to have’, and the role of technology in driving sustainable innovation is in sharper focus than ever before.

Integrating sustainable practices not only yields a commercial advantage, encompassing cost savings, brand enhancement, and long-term viability, but also has a direct impact on talent attraction. Logicalis' 2023 global CIO survey reveals that 84% of employees prefer companies prioritizing environmental concerns. The same study also affirms that 92% of CIOs recognize a clear connection between ESG, sustainability, and enterprise value, underscoring the escalating importance of sustainability in the realm of IT leadership.

Technology is central to any business’s ability to execute its ESG strategy. From adopting renewable energy sources and optimizing data centers to deploying smart building systems and promoting remote work, the right technology-driven initiatives can significantly reduce carbon footprints while increasing productivity and cost savings.

In this landscape, businesses are increasingly turning to tech leaders for cutting-edge, sustainable solutions, acknowledging the pressing need for environmental stewardship.

Toby Alcock

Chief Technology Officer at Logicalis.

Unleashing potential: harnessing technology for sustainable solutions

In this dynamic landscape, decision-makers can harness digital technologies for substantial carbon emissions reduction, taking significant strides toward achieving their sustainability goals. Technology is now perceived not only as a tool but also as a focal point for fostering greener operations.

Technology driven sustainability

In sustainable transformation, technology is as a pivotal force, equipping organizations and leaders with the tools to make informed, data-driven decisions, optimize resource utilization, and devise innovative solutions to combat environmental challenges.

A key driver of sustainable innovation is the enhanced access to resource utilization and carbon emission data facilitated by technology. To uncover opportunities for improvement, and setting measurable targets, data plays a crucial role. However, our research underscores the persistent challenge many CIOs face, with 75% expressing the need for assistance in unlocking transformative data.

Smart buildings, powered by Internet of Things (IoT) technology, exemplify another way organizations can be more sustainable. Relying on sensors to monitor office occupancy levels, these buildings adapt heating and lighting systems for optimized energy use. The integration of various technologies allows smart buildings not just to adjust output based on occupancy but also to generate real-time performance data for operators to review.

As in-person conferences and networking is back on the rise, business travel emissions are making a comeback. Taking COP26 as a case study, the two-week summit emitted an estimated 102,500 tons of CO2, with 60% attributed to international flights according to a report by Arup. Recognizing the substantial impact on scope 3 emissions, businesses, including ours, are implementing sustainable travel policies which encourage low-carbon alternatives for commuting.. Our recent collaboration with RouteZero, a global travel platform using machine learning technology, empowers employees to calculate the most sustainable travel methods, reinforcing our commitment to environmentally responsible choices.

Improving sustainability through managing technology

There is no doubt technology is a huge enabler, providing solutions and suggestions for businesses to be more sustainable, but the technology we use must be more sustainably managed.

As the global reliance on technology increases, so does the associated surge in carbon emissions from IT. The European Commission anticipates a notable increase, projecting that data centers will contribute to 3.2% of electricity demand in the EU by 2030, up from 2.7% in 2018. This underlines the critical role of hardware efficiency and sustainable power sources in shaping an organization's carbon footprint.

Energy consumption is just one facet to consider in technology investments. Forward-thinking business leaders can strategically reduce waste and minimize the environmental impact of IT operations by adopting practices like reusing and repurposing IT equipment instead of opting for disposal. Taking it a step further, responsible recycling and disposal of electronic waste for end-of-life hardware become imperative actions, effectively eliminating unnecessary carbon emissions tied to the conventional practice of sending technology to landfills. In this tech-driven era, a holistic and environmentally conscious approach is pivotal for sustainable and responsible technological advancements.

Building a greener orbit

Meaningful progress, particularly when it comes to carbon reduction, can’t be made in isolation. Technology is opening doors to create a more environmentally aware society. However, relying on technology alone is not a silver bullet as businesses must collaborate and partner to tackle climate change. Addressing climate change effectively calls for a joint effort.

According to the IDC’s predictions for 2024, 40% of ESG services engagements will require a managed services component to better tackle the prolonged nature and intense data needs of sustainable transformation and ESG reporting, helping empower organizations to reduce their carbon emissions not only across IT functions, but across the entire business. Deliberately choosing technology that drives business value, embracing more sustainable methods to power technology, and practicing knowledge-sharing within organizations will propel the tech community toward additional advancements in sustainable technology across the entire spectrum.

As we meet at the convergence of technology and sustainability, we find a unique opportunity to make meaningful changes that will impact business and the global community. In our efforts to tackle the climate crisis, technology serves as both the method and the objective.

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Toby Alcock is Chief Technology Officer at Logicalis.