‘Green’ and sustainable IT not a focus for most, Capgemini reports

A new study from Capgemini Research Institute has found that fewer than a fifth of organisations have a sustainable IT strategy with goals and targets.

Globally IT has a significant carbon footprint extending from production to use and eventually disposal, but this is something about which organisations are largely unaware, according to Capgemini.

The study, which was based on a survey of 1,000 organisations across multiple sectors with annual revenues in excess of $1 billion annually, found that while around half have a sustainability strategy covering their entire organisation, IT is not an important component.

The energy and utilities sector, which comprised about 10% of the respondents, is particularly noteworthy, with the largest percentage (59%) of all the sectors with an enterprise-wide sustainability strategy.

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However, the sector also has one of the lowest awareness levels (39%) of the environmental impact of their organisation’s IT footprint and is among the lowest (17%) with a sustainable IT strategy.

The two sectors with the greatest proportion of organisations with a sustainable IT strategy are insurance and banking (24% and 23% respectively), even though in both the proportion with enterprise-wide strategies is below the 50% average.

“Sustainability must be at the core of our global effort for post-pandemic recovery, and IT cannot be neglected,” comments Cyril Garcia, CEO of Capgemini Invent.

“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.”

Other findings in the survey were that a majority of organisations were looking to the tech industry to help them drive sustainable IT. More than 60% were looking to them for help in measuring the environmental impact of their IT and more than half that they should incorporate a sustainable IT dimension in their offers.

However, fewer than half were willing to pay up to 5% more for sustainable IT products and services.

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Sustainable IT use cases

The study reveals that organisations that have built a comprehensive roadmap to accelerate sustainable IT implementation have realised improved environmental, social and governance scores, seen improved customer satisfaction and witnessed tax savings.

Based on analysis of use cases across the different areas of the IT landscape, six have been identified as delivering the greatest carbon efficiency benefits.

At the hardware/user device level, auto switch-off hardware in the office is the most carbon efficient with an average 14% cost savings from power reduction while reducing carbon.

Switching to a green cloud architecture and framework can deliver 19% cost savings, while a sustainable architecture to rationalise and decouple the most energy intensive applications offers 11% cost savings.

Data centres are a major consumer of energy. Optimising the cooling systems with machine learning can deliver 8% cost savings and optimising the utilisation with machine learning delivers cost savings of 9%.

With the cost of running and cooling servers far exceeding the initial price of the hardware, it also is crucial to deploy energy rated servers offering up to 9% cost savings.

In conclusion the report says that to give sustainable IT the attention it deserves, organisations need to understand the carbon cost of the digital world and accelerate the move to sustainable systems.

“In this way, sustainable IT can play a central part in tackling climate change and moving the world to a more resilient and sustainable future.”