IT Sustainability Think Tank: Keeping one step ahead of regulation

IT Sustainability Think Tank: Keeping one step ahead of regulation
Written by Techbot

There is an ever-growing list of rules and regulations for enterprises to get their heads around when it comes to sustainability, but what can they do to keep on top of things?

Carmen Ene


Published: 12 Jul 2023

Today, maybe more than ever before, the business landscape is constantly changing.

The post-pandemic recovery gave way to the post-energy-crisis adaptation, and new challenges are emerging all the time for organisations globally. And it’s not just changes that businesses are tackling; it’s fighting multiple fronts. Economic headwinds, environment, social and governance (ESG) regulations, geopolitical instability, artificial intelligence (AI), and the rise of a hybrid workforce are just a few of the factors shaping the way companies operate today.

One thing is clear: to succeed in this ever-changing and multi-faceted environment, businesses need to be able to invest strategically and adapt quickly and effectively to remain ahead.

The evolving role of corporate tech

As businesses try to prepare for what might be on the horizon, there’s no doubt that the role of corporate technology is evolving.

Tech is not just a tool to increase a company’s productivity. Today, alongside its people, it’s the single most important asset an organisation owns. It is the platform where efficiency, resilience, and flexibility happen – thanks to access to data and analytics – and it’s also where enhancements to customer experience and product innovation take place.

And while technology plays a vital operational role, it’s important to remember that it is also essential to improve employee experience (EX) by giving people the right platform to do their best work to improve results.

However, we must recognise that technology is one of the most significant – and often upfront – investments for enterprises. And given the global economic headwinds, over the next few months, “prioritisation will be critical as chief information officers (CIOs) look to optimise spending while using digital technology to transform the company’s value proposition, revenue, and client interactions”, states Gartner.

A circular future

As strategically investing in technology becomes increasingly vital, ESG regulations and reporting requirements related to e-waste and resource management are also becoming more stringent.

Today, more than 90% of biodiversity loss is due to the extraction and processing of natural resources. Manufacturing tech is both carbon and material intensive, making it crucial for companies to consider how their technology investments demonstrate a commitment to corporate sustainable practices.

This – coupled with the economic pressure faced by IT departments – might prompt CIOs to consider the possibility of keeping tech assets in use for longer or until they are ready to be disposed of. After all, according to McKinsey, in large enterprises: “The biggest carbon culprit is end-user devices” like smartphones.

However, legacy tech can truly hinder a business’ ability to grow and evolve, exposing them to downtime and needless risks – including regulatory, environmental and security ones.

Being locked into traditional ownership models can also overburden a business with unforeseen maintenance costs and the challenges of device management, compliance, and disposal without offering the flexibility to adapt to the pace of new technological advancements.

In this context, circular as-a-service solutions that allow businesses to access the devices for a certain amount of time and then refurbish them – so they can be reused – tick many boxes.

First and foremost, these circular models can offer a financial advantage when compared to traditional ownership ones, thanks to the residual value of the assets being taken into consideration by the service provider. They also offer operational benefits, helping businesses gain better control of their tech stack and optimise spend by tailoring it to their actual needs.

Crucially, they allow businesses to incorporate ESG criteria into their technology strategies and decision-making processes from the outset – at the point of procurement – rather than as a reactive response once tech solutions are already in place.

As-a-service, circular business models also remove the security, environmental and reputational burdens of end-of-life management of technology and the data left on it for businesses. All while supporting regular and predictable refresh cycles to enhance customer and employee experience.

And with the circular economy expected to be “the only economy” by the end of the decade, circular business models can help organisations future-proof their operations in line with current and expected regulatory requirements – a crucial step to remain ahead.

The future won’t wait

It’s clear that optimising investment in technology is crucial not only to ensure businesses are getting bang for their buck but to foster the competitiveness, flexibility, compliance, and adaptability that can act as insurance during uncertain times.  For businesses, the risk of being left behind is perhaps the greatest risk of all, especially in the face of rapidly evolving technology like AI and a fast-developing regulatory environment.

The trick is to find a technology management approach that facilitates flexible and cost-efficient access to the latest tech, with embedded sustainability, security, and reporting credentials, so that every tech asset can work to its full potential.

That’s how organisations can ensure their long-term success and resilience in an ever-changing market while also demonstrating their commitment to sustainable business practices.

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