IT Sustainability Think Tank: Why cross-business collaboration is key to achieving green IT goals

It takes a village to build a credible and robust IT sustainability strategy, so who should enterprise leaders be collaborating with to make their organisation's green IT goals a reality?

Enterprises looking to move from sustainability ambition to execution will benefit from taking an ecosystem approach. This can mean suppliers and partners, through to sector peers, and indeed enterprises from adjacent sectors, who are all grappling with the same challenge when it comes to moving the dial.

Therefore, collaboration across areas such as technology enablement, consistent reporting, process redesign, incentivisation mechanisms or marketplaces can help to target the specific actions needed for an enterprise to deliver on its sustainability goals.

We know from our work across all sectors that delivering on the sustainability promises made is now a critical imperative, and for asset-intensive business functions such as IT, they are in a strong position to drive sustainability goals forward through tangible actions.

The first step is measurement, specifically linking measurement of performance to company sustainability goals. Following this, business leaders will have the information they need to drive changes in behaviour to improve sustainability performance. Focusing on purchasing as an example, sustainability measurement and actions could centre on:

  • Reducing consumption in the first place, for example through robust demand management, or using refurbished and repaired materials before buying new ones.
  • Ensuring that the provenance of procured goods is understood, including their component parts, to confirm elimination of any usage of conflict minerals.
  • Working with an ecosystem supplier whose sustainability credentials are visible and verified, and their partners are working to aligned goals.

When it comes to the telecoms sector, where IT equipment is heavily relied upon to provide services, we are supporting the industry to improve consistency in reporting by having developed the first mobile-specific set of environment, social and governance (ESG) key performance indicators (KPIs) along with the industry body, GSMA.

This covers key areas with relevance to CIOs and IT, such as scope 3 emissions, energy consumption, materials repaired or reused, waste generated and materials recycled.

One key thing to remember is that shifting the needle on sustainability is not a challenge for any one business function alone. A joined-up approach across functions is required, whether this is operations or engineering, for example in minimising equipment usage and waste generation.

Procurement also plays a key role in actioning green goals through supplier sourcing, contracting, incentivisation and accountability. And this all needs to be enabled alongside finance, which supports incentivisation of the reuse of materials and recycling, thereby supporting business leaders in sustainability-related decision-making.

By joining critical internal functions to work towards the same goals, and working collaboratively with the right ecosystem partners, organisations can achieve credible change when it comes to creating sustainable change across the business.

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