In the ongoing pandemic crisis, organizations are reviewing each aspect of their tech spend to help them stay afloat. However, sustainability initiatives must be exempt from this scrutiny. This is because continuity is paramount to its success and, more importantly, its specific initiatives are often synonymous with saving money and reducing waste. Sustainability must remain on the list because its specific initiatives are often synonymous with saving money and reducing waste. While you may indeed choose to adjust your sustainability, focus based on your current circumstances, it is important not to suspend or delay it altogether. Considering the following reasons:
- Sustainability generates real cost savings. Sustainability initiatives allow you to cut costs by optimizing resources and energy without forgoing value. This includes sustainable operations like sustainable data centers and energy and water procurement. At the same time, adjusting design and product manufacturing processes to be in tune with the circular economy — where you incorporate the reengineering, remanufacturing, and recycling of technology — can boost your supply chain, help guarantee supplies of raw materials and create further cost savings in e-waste management.
- Sustainability pays off via financial results. Sustainability-focused companies have better financial results relative to their peers, even during the pandemic. As the crisis continues, sustainability has proven to be essential and investors are doubling down on sustainability investments.
- Sustainability scores highly with values-focused young consumers. Even during the pandemic, customer experience (CX)-related investments can’t take a back seat. Consumers care about sustainability: per recent Forrester research, 39% of US online adults ages 18 to 24 look for energy certifications for the products they choose, while 49% of US online youth (ages 12 to 17) are concerned about the impact of climate change on society. Sustainability initiatives help generate customer loyalty and make companies more attractive to potential employees.
- Sustainability initiatives spawn innovation that fuels industry leaders. Innovation goes beyond software development. Internal R&D around your overall sustainability goals can generate innovative products and services. Most breakthroughs in optimizing cooling systems, power, water usage and networks have resulted from efforts to meet sustainability goals. This strategy not only generates long-term revenue but also trickles down into short-term cost savings at the project level.
To make high level adjustments to your sustainability budgets, begin by identifying what is the business outlook your company currently faces: survival, adaptive or growth. Your business situation must dictate your approach to changes in sustainability investments.
So how do you identify the right opportunities and gaps in your sustainability strategy? Depending on who you are and what you already do, you may be well positioned to pursue one strategy versus the other.
To analyze sustainability opportunities in a systematic manner, utilize a systematic and holistic sustainability framework as shown below. Components of this framework include the following:
- Procurement. Energy and water procurement are at the front and center of sustainability efforts for most companies. Apart from energy, this is also the procurement of sustainable materials for manufacturing and product development.
- Operations. Under this is operational efficiency across the board — measures such as temperature maintenance in data centers, carbon-emission optimization, data management and your corporate value chain.
- Retirement. E-waste management and taking part in the circular economy not only ensures recycling but also a better customer experience overall. This includes designing products for re-engineerability and dependability.
Cutting across the above three tenets are other factors such as:
- Measurement and data. Accurate measurement of sustainability efforts and using the right parameters, including power and water-usage effectiveness, are key. Often overlooked, this is the backbone of a good sustainability programs.
- Communication and partner enablement. Internal communication to strengthen your corporate culture as well as accurately communicating your efforts to customers, stakeholders and investors can be not only differentiators in business but also enablers of goodwill.