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Need emerges for sustainable network infrastructure transformation

Survey of IT decision-makers and 1,200 office workers across EMEA region reveals that infrastructure users are committed to change but demand more positive action and greater understanding from leadership

A study by Juniper Networks has shown that although sustainable network infrastructure policies are being implemented across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), a knowledge gap remains when it comes to understanding the real imperatives, issues and opportunities of sustainable IT networks.

Juniper partnered with Vanson Bourne to conduct a survey of 650 IT decision-makers (ITDMs) and 1,200 office workers across EMEA for the Future of networking report, to gauge confidence in sustainable networking transformation within business.

The report found that 83% of EMEA ITDMs surveyed work for organisations that have implemented, or are currently implementing, a sustainable network infrastructure policy. Results also suggest that support for this transformation will rise even further over the next few years: 86% of ITDMs and office workers agree they want to see more positive action from their organisation’s leaders regarding IT/networking sustainability in the next two to five years. 

However, in line with the overall conclusions around climate change imperatives highlighted by the recent COP27 conference, the study also warned that network infrastructure must be built and operated responsibly to minimise power and space consumption as organisations globally shoulder the need to reduce carbon emissions significantly.

But although there is consensus between office workers and ITDMs that sustainable networking and infrastructure policies and capabilities are important – 85% agreed it was either “extremely important” or “important” – their understanding of the issues and opportunities around sustainability remains fractured. Only 32% of office workers surveyed thought their organisation had a thorough understanding of the impact of sustainable IT issues, compared with 46% of ITDMs. Just 13% of ITDMs and office workers specifically think their organisation has a poor or even non-existent understanding of the issue.

When it came to the sustainable future of doing business, the role of people was revealed as just as important as that of carbon or emissions targets. Deep diving into recruitment patterns highlighted by the research, 40% agreed that their organisation is not recruiting with the tech roles of the future in mind, which may include roles and skills related to AI, sustainability and environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies, among others.

“The disconnect between leadership and employees when it comes to understanding the importance of sustainable networking highlighted by this research actually offers a unique opportunity for many of our partners and customers that do already operate with sustainability in mind,” said Gos Hein van de Wouw, vice-president of enterprise, EMEA at Juniper Networks.

“Networking technologies underpin everything we do, thanks to increasingly pervasive digital transformation, and the environmental impact this has on people, places and the globe must be taken into consideration. Recruitment of IT and technology talent that doesn’t factor in sustainability is a missed opportunity.

“Talent is a key driver behind not just meeting emissions targets, but broadening business perspectives on issues related to diversity, inclusion, transformation, and more. With the right mix of people and network infrastructure, organisations can have a positive impact on the planet while pushing forward with digital transformation goals in the pursuit of sustainable business growth.”

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