Managing Sustainability Initiatives in the IT Sector
Blog: NASSCOM Official Blog
Written by: Anand MA – Head of Products, Treeni Sustainability Solutions.
In recent years, climate change has become an international concern for individuals and enterprises alike, and while political and economic manifestations cannot be controlled by enterprises, the concept of sustainable growth and development is gaining more prominence now. We’re experiencing the true meaning of a VUCA world, where uncertainty looms high on every front. Many enterprises are adopting sustainability initiatives, as they claim, to do the right thing. There’s no one definition of this concept – it can either mean small adjustments or a complete transformation in policies. In fact, sustainability is not dependent on the size or the industry, it’s more about a shift in mindset, organisational culture and responsible business practices that impact company milestones in the longer run.
Why take it up? Because over the last few years, we have also seen that sustainable businesses are much more successful as compared to those who are not, and a Nielsen study backs this up as well. Embracing sustainability not only creates a sense of pride for company leaders, but boosts consumer positive sentiment as well. It is one of the greatest drivers of engagement at the workplace, which attracts better talent. When the values of this talent align with those of the workplace, the final outcome is a triple bottom line in the green (pun intended!) of profit, human capital and natural resources.
According to a report called Smart 2020: Enabling the Low Carbon Economy in the Information Age, co-authored by The Climate Group and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative, a consortium of technology firms with active sustainability initiatives backed by smart use of enterprise technology could reduce global carbon emissions by 15% and save global industries US $720 billion in annual energy costs this year. The IT industry, thus, has an integral role to play in the perception and growth of sustainability management, and the best way to propel the message is to lead by example!
As a sector, IT contributes only 2% of global carbon emissions, according to The Climate Group. It also offers a host of solutions to assist other parts of the business to become more environmentally sound. In addition to data center optimization and other operational issues, companies are now leveraging IT capabilities to facilitate sustainability initiatives across the enterprise in areas including fleet management, paperless billing, and construction and facility management.
Simple measures, like turning off lights and computers automatically at set times, or setting room temperatures to an automated schedule, bring significant savings. More complex undertakings include the consolidation of data centers, upgrading to more energy-efficient hardware and supporting teleworking initiatives. But as technology continues to evolve as a key strategic enabler across the enterprise, many companies are realizing the need of holistic measures in IT that can support enterprise-wide corporate sustainability efforts.
The reality of climate change and its implications for future generations is serious, and it needs to be taken into account with every step we take. Industry leaders like IBM and Oracle are already paving the way to adopt sustainability thoughtfully. IBM has a 40 year long history of commitment towards reducing environmental degradation, and their most recent innovations include those powering smart cities all over the world. With more than 80% of direct manufacturing spends focused on carbon reduction and 120+ customers winning Sustainability Innovation Awards, Oracle has more 74+ fully renewable energy use offices all around the globe. 2.8 million pounds of hardware has been taken back annually from customers and internal data center operations to make for a greener planet!
For IT leaders, it becomes tough to manage this sustainability strategy by themselves, as it is an uncharted territory for most of them. Setting up a proper sustainability department has become top priority nowadays, and in fact, is the first step for enterprises who are ready to make the shift and transform. Ensuring a complete collaboration between the CSO and CIO plays a very important role in enabling transformations like these, since both departments need to be in sync with each other at all times. Otherwise efforts may become fragmented and siloed, and results can be difficult to measure.
Bringing in third party experts can enable better clarity throughout the enterprise, and ensure maximum resilience as well.
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