Coeus Consulting has announced findings from new research – ‘The critical role of technology leaders in delivering on sustainability targets’. The report found that 90% of IT leaders surveyed, recognise sustainability as a key IT objective within their organisation and 88% of organisations already have an IT sustainability strategy in place.
The majority of respondents (85%) also agreed that their organisation needs to be doing more when it comes to IT sustainability. What’s more, 80% agreed that IT and sustainability are intrinsically linked and that IT has a large impact on sustainability at their organisation.
This is encouraging, particularly given that almost 70% of surveyed IT leaders also expect IT budgets being invested within IT sustainability to increase by 10-20% in the next three years. On top of this, 45% believe IT sustainability will become a key element in procurement processes in three years’ time. This shows that organisations are comfortable using IT to facilitate their sustainability goals and recognise the contributions IT can make towards net zero.
“Whilst organisations are taking the right steps towards IT sustainability by building strategies and investing in technologies like cloud, CIOs and IT leaders have the potential to facilitate an organisation-wide shift to sustainability. They should be taking a leading role in defining key performance indicators, targets and frameworks to be adopted at the organisational level, monitor progress and hold the organisation accountable.” comments Ben Barry, Director, Coeus Consulting.
Despite this, in many cases, responsibility for IT sustainability does not lie with IT, but elsewhere in the organisation, with only 60% indicating that their CIO has overall responsibility for IT sustainability. Around a third of companies identified that they have a specific sustainability role, such as Chief Sustainability Officer, who is responsible for IT sustainability.
Furthermore, around 50% said their formal strategies were not defined in IT, but defined elsewhere in the organisation, e.g. defined by the board. Worryingly, 70% agreed that organisations often see IT sustainability as a tick box activity and only do the minimum necessary, and 43% noted that they used their IT sustainability metrics to merely improve company reputation and justify government tax savings.
When questioned on the key drivers for IT sustainability within their organisation, IT leadership strategy (56%), increase in general awareness (44%) and environmental concerns (43%), were top drivers across most organisations surveyed.
Within IT, defining sustainability targets (59%), improving sustainability (52%) and demonstrating compliance (49%) were the top 3 use cases for IT sustainability metrics, which does demonstrate a drive towards sustainability goals.
“The private sector has a key role to play in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, with almost one third of the EU’s largest companies pledging to reach net-zero by 2050. Organisations are missing a trick by relegating technology’s contribution to sustainability to a ‘support’ role. They need to recognise that incorporating leaner IT processes, adding sustainability measures within IT procurement, and reducing IT energy consumption can go a long way towards meeting these sustainability goals”, adds Kerry Osborne, Sustainability Lead, Coeus Consulting.
As for the biggest challenges for organisations to deliver on their IT sustainability goals, widespread use of poorly performing legacy IT (48%), lack of budget (45%) and poorly defined strategy (44%) were cited. The most common steps that organisations across sectors are taking to meet sustainability goals are; adopting cloud hosting (13%), recycling (15%) and asset lifecycle extension (9%).
Rainer Karcher, Global Director IT Sustainability, Siemens comments – “Consumers everywhere are increasingly demanding that business do its part to promote sustainability and improve people’s lives, and governments and institutions are investing more in sustainability efforts.
Over 1600 companies, including Siemens, are committing themselves to the Science Based Target initiative. We are not only aiming to be carbon neutral in our own operations by 2030. We are also extending our commitment to all the emissions connected to us – from our supply chain, to the use phase of our portfolio by our customers.”
When it comes to IT suppliers, over half of respondents across all sectors want to see suppliers/partners adhere to several criteria in order to work with them, including publishing of IT sustainability reports, regular auditing of IT sustainability efforts, a low carbon footprint and sustainable power consumption. Very few (5%) of respondents indicated that they would require regulations to ensure IT sustainability is mandated across supplier/partner relationships.
Barry adds, “Promoting a culture of sustainability within the organisation will enable employees and the supply chain to be engaged with the strategy and support the sustainability drives introduced by stakeholders. There is still vast untapped potential for organisations to use technology proactively to reach sustainability goals, and organisations must understand the importance of aligning the IT and business sustainability strategies, monitoring progress and holding the organisation accountable for its actions, or lack of.”