April 22 marks the 52nd annual Earth Day, a day to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Environmental impacts and sustainability initiatives can span nearly every industry, including technology and IT.
In fact, Gartner expects that by 2025, 50% of CIOs will have performance metrics tied to the sustainability of the IT organization. The organization defines sustainable technology as a framework of digital solutions that can enable environmental, social and governance (ESG) outcomes for the enterprise and its customers.
“Sustainable technology is increasingly important operationally — for optimizing costs, energy performance and asset utilization, for instance — but it also drives ESG outcomes like improving wellness and providing the traceability needed to ensure responsible business practices,” said Gartner Principal Analyst Autumn Stanish in a press release. “Sustainable technology also facilitates new business models and tech-enabled products to better serve customers.”
Sustainable technology creates opportunity in three critical areas of the business: internal IT, enterprise and customer operations.
Having sustainable IT means selecting and using the right tools, hardware and vendors to deliver the maximum possible output using the minimum viable resources, Gartner says. Sustainable IT goals are designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as the embodied carbon in decommissioned IT.
Possible solutions include new sustainable approaches for the responsible stewardship of IT assets, such as using robots for recycling, or outsourcing IT operations to sustainable operators.
Examples of enterprise operations include providing transparency on sourcing and trade practices, improved energy and material efficiency, reduced emissions and fair labor practices.
Meanwhile, opportunities to advance ESG goals across business include: automation, AI, advanced analytics and using the cloud.
Sustainable technology also includes products and services that allow customers to meet sustainability goals of their own. This includes having a thorough understanding of customers’ priorities. For example, customers may want a sustainable product but are not willing to compromise on quality and cost.
To make it easier on customers, businesses can allow them to see how their engagement with products and services can contribute to their sustainability goals.