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When it comes to peering into a crystal ball to get a sense of what will be important to customers and the channel in 2023, one would expect sustainability to emerge from its misty depths as an area of focus.
The topic has dominated many discussions and activities across all tiers of the channel this year, as more businesses move to a net-zero position. Across the industry, sustainability is expected to remain a key topic going forward, touching on numerous segments and technologies.
We gathered the views of a few players across the channel.
Paul Flannery, vice-president of international channel sales at enterprise resource planning (ERP) provider Epicor
In our hyper-connected business environment, many people realise that the only way whole industries are going to significantly reduce emissions is by managing the sustainability of their connected supply and value chains. Otherwise, it’s too easy to claim one company is “green” without acknowledging that the companies it buys from aren’t.
However, due to rising interest rates, energy costs, and many other factors, survival over the next six months and beyond is the most pressing issue for most businesses. This is particularly true in the energy-intensive sectors we serve, such as automotive, construction, distribution and manufacturing.
Paul Flannery, Epicor
Channel partners and vendors need to strike the right balance in their own marketing and sales pitches to technology buyers; first and foremost ensuring the technology solutions they are recommending will help customers improve their business’s resilience and increase profit margins, and therefore justify the investment when spending is under increasing scrutiny.
However, new technology must help buyers achieve their business goals without rolling back any progress that’s already been made on decarbonisation or emissions reduction, as the C-suite needs to report to stakeholders (including investors, media and consumers) that their operations and the vendors they work with are taking steps to become greener.
Today, pleading ignorance down your supply chain isn’t good enough. This positioning challenge is where channel partners can provide trusted guidance on the right technology buying decisions, which will give the C-suite the confidence it needs to proceed.
Tim Britt, head of channel, EMEA, Dropbox
The need for tech to support the rise in green energy will rise exponentially, meaning businesses will need to collaborate more on research to aid the green transition. The cheapest and most plentiful sources of renewable energy are wind, water, solar, biomass and geothermal. They are also found in different parts of Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), which makes cooperation between the different parts essential.
Tim Britt, Dropbox
What does this mean for the channel? Well, partners, distributors and vendors alike will have to ensure they’re providing a suite of technology – whether it’s hardware or software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based – that enables the growth of green energy. Whether that’s looking to ensure they partner with businesses that source 100% renewable energy for their datacentres or achieving carbon neutrality. Ultimately, in 2023, green energy will be a positive differentiator and enable partners, distributors and vendors to win.
Sen Chandaka, vendor alliance development manager at Nuvias, an Infinigate Group company
Channel technology, solutions and services need to be realigned to be conducive to achieving business sustainability goals. Enterprises will have to demonstrate efficiency – in terms of reduced power consumption, smart infrastructure and use of data analytics – to mitigate against potential friction within existing business processes.
Communications solutions that empower hybrid work will also be important, leading to “rightsizing” office space requirements and a reduction in employee travel.
Jo Green, head of public sector, Neos Networks
In recent years, there has been a significant amount of noise around reducing energy consumption within technology. This ambition is set to come into sharp focus, with public sector organisations focusing on ensuring their overall operations are truly “green”, while still supporting local people in the most effective way possible.
Jo Green, Neos Networks
Technology has played a big role in the sustainability conversation, and developments in the likes of artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning are poised as being key enablers to a greener future. In fact, if you take AI, the ability to minimise energy consumption by carefully and regularly monitoring, controlling and managing energy usage will be a significant game-changer across myriad industries.
But deploying the right technology alone isn’t enough. It’s important to also consider how tech software itself is developed, and how sustainable and efficient that process is. For example, are too many workloads being moved to the cloud, therefore creating unnecessary reliance on datacentres? Are the right methods of deployment like DevOps being used to ensure teams are lean, and changes or upgrades made to the software are energy consumption-friendly?
This increased focus on energy-saving is likely to see public sector organisations choosing connectivity partners that can offer the most sustainable and green solutions. This could include minimising energy usage throughout software development, or a greater focus on traffic management to reduce energy consumption, where we’ll see telcos leverage automation and AI to better route and manage traffic across multiple network layers, to minimise energy consumption, and maximise efficiency as well as network resources.