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How ‘big’ tech is becoming ‘good’ tech in the drive to sustainable IT

Blog: Capgemini CTO Blog

There’s a lot sitting on the shoulders of IT leaders at present. As well as having to fundamentally change how they deliver corporate IT services over the past year, they’re being tasked with helping their organizations become sustainable businesses. How? By using technology to drive sustainability initiatives, such as digital collaboration platforms to reduce travel, and applying AI to optimize supply chains that reduce wastage.

While this potential for IT to be an enabler of sustainability is hugely positive, there is also growing recognition that enterprise IT is itself a big contributor to the global carbon footprint. Indeed, according to a new report from the Capgemini Research Institute (CRI), the rising demand for computing power and data storage poses “a significant environmental challenge.”

Big tech takes proactive steps

This challenge must be tackled. But where do enterprise IT leaders begin? Capgemini Invent advocates a journey to sustainable IT built on the four pillars of Sustainable Strategy, Sustainable IT Transformation, Sustainable Employees, and Sustainable IT for Business — a topic covered in our recent blog and addressed by our Sustainable IT services. IT leaders can also ramp up their sustainable IT ambitions by observing and learning from the big tech firms already taking proactive steps to decarbonize their IT operations. In fact, 48% of the 1000 organization surveyed for the CRI report said technology firms should be setting standards and deciding the norms for sustainable IT.

In the CRI report, we learn that many of the tech giants are making sustainable IT pledges. For example, Microsoft is planning to become carbon negative by 2030, and 70% of its massive data centers will run on renewable energy by 2023. Likewise, HP has set a target to ensure its global operations are powered with 100% renewable electricity by 2035. And Samsung has a goal to recycle 7.5 billion pounds of electronics waste by 2030. The report adds that sustainable IT is not only limited to the migration to more sustainable hardware and energy but extends to initiatives such as application portfolio rationalization and sustainable coding.

4 practical use cases from big tech

For enterprise IT leaders seeking similar outcomes, there are some practical use cases from the world of big tech in the CRI report — the figures cited all appear in the report:

Sustainable IT levers

The above offers a small flavor of the use cases and learnings discussed in our latest research report. Further practical use cases include moving from on-premises infrastructure to cloud computing for significant energy savings; adopting more energy efficient data-transfer mechanisms, for example shifting to edge computing to reduce energy use by processing data closer to the source; and auto switch-off for hardware in the office.

These are among the many sustainable IT levers that can make significant impact on enterprise IT’s carbon footprint. The task of IT leaders is to identify the right levers as part of their sustainable IT strategy and not fall for popular ideas which aren’t the right fit for their ambitions. Also, make it a priority to partner with vendors who share the same commitment to sustainability as them so that enterprise IT becomes a true enabler of sustainability.

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