Sustainability Action Gap Revealed by Research

 Reports and studies by three independent research firms indicate most of the  IT and data centre industry is at the beginning stage of a sustainability journey

 • 73% of organisations in one study rank sustainability as their #2 business  priority, but only 33% say they have created a strategic sustainability plan

• Schneider Electric commissioned the papers to help the industry better  understand the maturity of sustainability initiatives 

Schneider Electric™, the leader in digital transformation of energy  management and automation, is today sharing the results of three commissioned reports by independent research firms, which 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 three commissioned studies were conducted, separately, by industry leading analysts at 451  Research, a part of S&P Market Intelligence, Forrester Consulting, and Canalys. They collected data  from nearly 3,000 global participants, including the largest colocation and cloud providers, IT solution  providers, and IT professionals across many segments and organisation sizes. 

The 451 Research paper revealed a perception-versus-reality dilemma with enterprise organisations  believing their sustainability programs are more advanced than they are as “the maturity evaluations of  nearly half (48%) of respondents did not match a previous answer.”  

The Forrester Consulting paper focused on colocation and found that 73% of respondents reported  sustainability as a business priority for their organisation, their #2 priority overall, but only 33% say  their organisations have created a strategic sustainability plan.  

The Canalys research determined that IT Channel partners are investing in sustainability strategies but  are struggling to translate the investment into action and lack a clear answer on how to accomplish this  goal. With 61% of partners having dedicated personnel for sustainability, only a third have set ESG  targets.  

“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 Natalya Makarochkina,  Senior Vice President, Secure Power Division, International Operations for 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 three 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 three independent research studies, and they 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 Special Report: Sustainability at the Edge – The Gap between Enterprise  Plans and Sustainability Programs for Core and Distributed IT. The paper surveyed more than  1,150 medium and large enterprises worldwide representing more than 20 verticals and their  sustainability efforts with distributed IT resources. 

Analysts 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 thought leadership paper from Forrester Consulting: 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 organisation 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 organisations that hired an outside  sustainability consulting firm as part of their sustainability initiatives are 33% more likely to be  high maturity. 

Canalys: How can partners develop sustainability strategies? sought to understand the  readiness of the global IT Channel Ecosystem in the sustainability journey by surveying 500 IT  Solution Providers. The research defines the IT channels’ readiness and role in the wider  ecosystem. 

Canalys found that 60% of those surveyed have dedicated ESG (Environmental Social and  Governance) resources and 40% expect revenue from sustainability solutions. While IT  Channel partners are investing in sustainability strategies, they struggle to translate this into  action, according to the eBook. The market research validates the need for sustainable end to-end practices and solutions delivered by the IT and technology vendors. 

Sustainability with Schneider Electric  

Here are the newly launched products, software, and solutions from Schneider Electric centered on  sustainability: 

• Schneider Electric’s Sustainability Business, which employs over 2,000 sustainability  consultants who support customers with: setting targets, building sustainability strategies,  procuring renewable energy, evaluating energy options, decarbonising their supply chains,  and making efficiency gains in operations.

• Sustainable Performance by Design offers – Schneider Electric leverages EcoDesign, a  programme that embeds sustainable performance at the root of the design process. Products  that have high environmental performance are recognised by its Green Premium™label. 

• Modern Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) Portfolio for Sustainability – EcoStruxure IT, a comprehensive software and services portfolio for data centre, hybrid IT, and edge computing infrastructure, which enables secure remote monitoring and  management, planning, and modeling, and helps enterprises overcome their sustainability  challenges. 

• Sustainability through Partnership of the Future – a collaborative integrated ecosystem of IT  solution providers simplifies the deployment and management of IT solutions at the edge for  customers.  • Prioritising sustainability for partners through mySchneider – with access to the Design Portal,  partners can design for longevity and serviceability, remotely design efficient IT systems and  offer customers innovation products that are compliant with environmental regulations.