Research reveals sustainability action gap

Reports by 451 Research and Forrester indicate most of the IT and data centre industry is at the beginning stage of a sustainability journey.

Schneider Electric commissioned two independent research studies focused on sustainability in IT and data centre operations and the results reveal a disconnect between intent and action, indicating most of the industry is still at the beginning stage of its sustainability journey.

The two studies were conducted by industry leading analysts at 451 Research and Forrester. They collected data from nearly 3,000 global participants, including the largest colocation and cloud providers, and IT professionals across many segments and organisation sizes. The 451 Research paper revealed a perception-versus-reality dilemma with many enterprise organisations believing their sustainability programs are more advanced than they are, as “the maturity evaluations of nearly half of respondents (48%) did not match a previous answer.” The Forrester paper focused on colocation and found 73% of organisations ranked sustainability as their #2 business priority, but only 33% say they have created a strategic sustainability plan.

“The research clearly demonstrates that across the data centre and IT industry, there is a sustainability action gap – the intention appears to be there, but action is lacking,” said Pankaj Sharma, EVP of the Secure Power Division, Schneider Electric. “Of course, IT professionals understand and have taken steps to address sustainability. But what we lack, with some exception, is comprehensive and supported sustainability action plans and measurable targets to create the change required to address the climate crisis. These two research papers have documented a sustainability action gap and that is our collective challenge to address.

Understanding the status of industry-wide sustainability initiatives

Schneider Electric commissioned the two independent research studies, which were designed to help the industry better understand the maturity of sustainability initiatives. Here is a snapshot of each paper with a sample of the results and links to the full studies: · 451 Research White Paper: Sustainability at the Edge – The Gap between Enterprise Plans and Sustainability Programs for Core and Distributed IT. The paper researched more than 1,150 medium and large enterprises worldwide representing more than 20 verticals and their sustainability efforts with distributed IT resources.

Researchers determined many enterprises believe they are further along in their sustainability journey than they actually are. For this group, the main driver of sustainability is

business value and firms start with measuring energy usage then expand into other sustainability metrics and tools. The greatest challenges in their sustainability journeys include optimising energy usage, followed by obtaining consistent data and metrics (for leaders/advanced firms) and lacking skilled staff (for starter organisations).

· The leadership paper from Forrester: Reimagine Colocation Strategy with Sustainability Front of Mind. Researchers polled 1,033 global sustainability decision-makers at colocation providers worldwide with the objective of exploring sustainability drivers in the colocation provider industry. The study also explored the major challenges for colocation players and where they are investing the most across the technology stack.

The paper found organisations lack a strong comprehensive strategy for the sustainability programs, with only 33% saying their business has created a strategic sustainability plan. This indicates that the industry is still at the beginning of a sustainability journey. The paper determined that moving forward, a key piece of sustainability success will be finding the right partner to help organisations succeed. It also found that businesses that hired an outside sustainability consulting firm as part of their sustainability initiatives are 33% more likely to be high maturity.

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