Home Innovation Rethinking technology sustainability.

Rethinking technology sustainability.

by Marc Waters

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]I think we all care about our planet. We think about the future and the impact we are having. We all want to support environmentally positive behaviour. I mean do you still use plastic cups? No me neither, well, not often. What about your mobile phone. Do you leave it charging all night? Do you recycle your rubbish? Do you off-set your carbon? Well maybe, sometimes. But you get my point. It matters and all of us are starting to make adjustments.

As we approach the start of a new decade we live in a world that is being transformed by technology. Large cloud data centres analyse data at scale offering insight and innovation but consuming significant energy. Digital transformation offers big upsides to humankind, but there is a cost. Data centres may not have chimneys that belch black smoke into the air, but the effect in carbon emissions is ultimately the same.

Technology offers us solutions to the most important challenges facing humankind today…but the way we design, build, use, and dispose of it needs to evolve. Technology sustainability is discussed in almost every conversation I have with senior business leaders and government, it is a priority and we all have a responsibility to change. Collectively we have significant power. My strong view is that customers, business and consumers, will increasingly demand sustainability from the organisations they work with.

So how do we benefit from digital technologies whilst focusing on sustainability? Well, we need to rethink the way our technology is provided and consumed. At Hewlett Packard Enterprise we design and build sustainability into our products to eliminate waste in all elements of the product lifecycle. Our raw materials are sourced ethically, and our lifecycle approach to product innovation extends product life, increases efficiencies, designs out waste and creates products that can be more easily re-used.

This is a good start, but sustainability is more than product efficiency. The complete lifecycle includes how technology is consumed and disposed of. One of the reasons companies are moving to consuming technology as a service within their data centres is to use only what they need. Allowing them to take back control with a service that ensures auditable, efficient and responsible use of technology. Exactly the benefits provided by our GreenLake services, taking advantage of Circular Economy principles and our Technology Renewal Centres – refurbishing or recycling nearly 100% of assets we take in.

So the technology, process and service capability exists for companies to be more sustainable in their management of technology. To make a real difference we now need behaviour change. A change in culture to embed sustainability. In achieving this the role and values of leaders is vital. An example is our engagement with a hedge fund based in London. Initially a proposal for us to buyback, refurbish and reuse their legacy technology assets was rejected due to longstanding security policy. Given my engagement and the value of the assets I covered directly with the CTO, he got personally engaged and challenged the current relevance of existing process, and the way things have always been done. We now refurbish their assets and circulate them back into the economy. Returning capital value to the balance sheet, reducing e-waste and giving other companies the opportunity to buy second use technology.

Working for an organisation that has sustainability embedded in its culture is a huge motivation for employees. I feel that personally. People care about our planet and the values of the companies they work for. Good businesses with the right values are a force for good and are ultimately more successful. All of us who work with technology have an opportunity and a responsibility to lead change. Now is the time to rethink technology sustainability, to change behaviours, and to make a positive difference.





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