How to make IT services more sustainable?
Last week, Finnish periodical Tivi noted that the IT sector has finally opened its eyes to sustainability and that in Sweden, competitive tendering processes often include sustainability requirements. The article featured an interview with Milla Uusi-Pietilä, Sustainability and Communications Director at Fujitsu Finland, who said that customers are interested in matters such as the carbon footprints of data centre services and need them to be at least zero. And to that, we at Gapps say it's about time!
Gapps Alumni no longer work at Gapps but they will forever be Gappsians at heart.
Over the past two years, we have had numerous discussions with our customers on sustainability and helped them to realise that IT services also have a carbon footprint. It really does make a difference where data is stored, for example. Companies have, in principle, only assessed the sustainability of their own production, logistics chains, and offices. Few have considered what sustainable development means for IT services. Here are a few thoughts to get the ball rolling.
Examples of sustainable IT solutions
IT plays a key role in building a sustainable, responsible corporate culture. As an increasing proportion of work is digital, and work has, in many cases, shaken off the constraints of time and location, the carbon footprint of digital work has a greater impact than ever before.
For example, Google’s server centres are pioneers of sustainability in their sector – they have been carbon-neutral since 2007, long before anyone was even talking about carbon neutrality. Two years ago, Google offset its entire life cycle emissions, and now it is raising the bar further: By 2030, all of Google’s services will be entirely carbon-free.
The Tivi article states that the environmental impact of hardware has long been a talking point, but it remains difficult to uncover the sustainability of supply chains. Until hardware manufacturing comes under greater scrutiny and becomes more sustainable on a global scale, we can at least strive to extend the life cycles of hardware we already own. For example, PC and Mac hardware can be given a new lease of life by changing the operating system to Chrome OS Flex.
IT can help to build a more sustainable working life
IT services closely connect with responsibility and sustainable development in other areas of business, too. Remote and hybrid work have a major impact on traffic volumes and, therefore, on emissions in towns and cities. In addition, online meetings replaced the majority of flights during the pandemic, relieving the burden on employees and the environment. That is why the development and wide-scale utilisation of IT services that reduce such emissions will remain important in the future.
Digital solutions can also be instrumental in ensuring the genuine adoption of diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) themes in working life. It is easier for companies to recruit a more diverse workforce when, in practice, the work can be done in any location. Another form of inclusion is providing everyone in the company equal access to relevant information. Digital communication tools also enable more equal and inclusive discourse within a company. For example, with modern intranet solutions everyone has the opportunity to participate in internal discussions, everyone in the company has a voice. Watching from the sidelines is vastly different from being in the thick of the action.
Creating sustainable business with IT in the front line
By now it is clear that IT services play an important role – and in some cases, the most vital role – on the front line of building sustainable businesses. Carbon-neutral data storage, extending the life cycles of hardware, and more inclusive digital solutions are just a few examples of areas where IT can take responsibility and carry its weight.