Organisations which have deployed a comprehensive roadmap to accelerate sustainable IT implementation improved customer satisfaction, witnessed tax savings  and improved ESG scores as a direct result of sustainable IT practices.

Yet only six per cent of firms having achieved a high level of sustainable IT maturity.

The figures are contained in a new report from the Capgemini Research Institute, entitled “Sustainable IT: Why it’s time for a Green revolution for your organisation’s IT”.

Yet despite the obvious advantages, most organisations remain ignorant about how to implement sustainable IT practices and proactively address the environmental impact of enterprise IT.

Information technology is a huge driver of carbon emissions worldwide. The authors identify the areas of enterprise IT emissions that are growing most rapidly and lay out a three-stage roadmap for organisations to build and implement their sustainable IT strategies.

Image source: Capgemini

The problem for now however, is that organisations are not yet viewing sustainable IT as a priority or a tool in their wider sustainability agenda and journey to reduce their carbon footprint: according to the report, only 22 per cent plan to reduce more than one-quarter of their carbon footprint through sustainable IT in the next three years.

Organisations are largely unaware of the environmental impact of IT

A clear awareness gap about the environmental impact of IT has emerged;

  • with 57 per cent of respondents were unaware of their own organisation’s IT carbon footprint.
  • Those in banking and the consumer products sector show the highest levels of awareness (52% and 51% respectively)
  • industrial manufacturing sector had the lowest awareness levels at a mere 28 per cent. (28%). 
  • And only a third of respondents understood that the production of mobiles and laptops has a higher carbon footprint than the use of these devices over their lifetime.

This awareness gap is compounded by the fact that sustainable IT currently does not get the same attention and resource as other green initiatives, according to the report.

When it comes to strategy, half of firms have defined an enterprise-wide sustainability approach, yet less than one in five (18 per cent) have a comprehensive sustainable IT strategy with well-defined goals and target timelines.

Measurement

Most organisations are not even measuring the environmental impact of IT well, and  lack.adequate tools or shared standards to do so.

For instance only 29 per cent use carbon assessment tools and just 34 per cent say that sustainable IT is part of their board-level agenda.

The use of KPIs to track and measure progress for enterprise IT sustainability is also not widespread, with less than a quarter of organisations measuring greenhouse gas emissions. Overall, just one per cent have achieved their targets.

And while the authors aregue that setting a carbon cost against IT operations can help organisations across departments realise the impact of their IT footprint, only 27 per cent of organisations have standardised the practice.

“Save us from ourselves”

The technology sector is well placed to play a role influencing and advocating for policy change, according to the report. Technology firms are taking proactive steps in decarbonising IT operations, services and products, and multiple players have announced targets to become carbon neutral. As a result, many organisations are looking to shift the onus onto the tech industry to help them establish sustainable IT practices.

Some 52 per cent of organisations told the Capgemini Research Institute that technology firms should incorporate a sustainable IT dimension into their products and services, 61 per cent want tech firms to help them measure the environmental impact of their IT, and 45 per cent are willing to pay a premium of up to 5 per cent for sustainable IT products and services.

“Sustainability must be at the core of our global effort for post-pandemic recovery, and IT cannot be neglected. Organisations need to recognise and act on the carbon cost of our digital world by accelerating the move to business models which are supported by sustainable IT capabilities,” says Cyril Garcia, CEO of Capgemini Invent and Group Executive Board Member, Executive sponsor of the Group CSR program.

“Organisations must have the diagnostic tools, strategies, and a roadmap in place to accelerate their journey towards decarbonisation. Endorsement from all stakeholders in the organisation will be critical for success along with sustainable software architecture and change in employee behaviour. Beyond the environmental imperative, the business benefits are compelling in terms of bottom line, social status and customer satisfaction.”

Organisations need to set the foundations with a sustainable IT strategy that aligns with the organisational sustainability strategy, the authors write.

This involves creating a governance process with a dedicated sustainable IT team and support from leadership and then operationalising sustainable IT initiatives with sustainability a key pillar of software architecture

Image source: Photo by Tanner Boriack on Unsplash

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