OpenText sustainability report cites challenges IT departments face

A new report commissioned by OpenText, released yesterday, indicates that IT departments are playing a major role in achieving corporate sustainability objectives, but concludes a lack of innovative tools and expertise are primary roadblocks to allowing them to meet their goals.

The 2023 State of IT Sustainability Report, conducted by Dimensional Research, found that while 97 per cent of companies have adopted or plan to adopt sustainability initiatives, in terms of actual implementation, only 42 per cent of those polled have actually started “the journey” towards environmental responsibility.

“The sustainability movement is in the early days, with IT taking the lead in most cases,” said Muhi Majzoub, chief product officer at OpenText. “However, this report’s findings also show that companies are serious about making it a high operational priority.

“Sustainability is proving to be more than a popular social cause. There are solid business reasons pushing it: efficiency, cost savings, regulatory compliance. Because it is a ‘win-win’ scenario for all, sustainability is now a part of the decision-making process at most companies.”

According to a release issued by the company, implementing IT sustainability initiatives can bring several obvious benefits to enterprise organizations, whether it is in cost savings, resource efficiency, risk mitigation, or regulatory compliance.

However, the release noted, “there are other less obvious benefits, such as innovation in product design, process efficiency, or technology adoption, that ultimately could lead to new revenue streams or market opportunities, all brought through the pursuit of sustainability.

“Yet, for all the incredible business benefits of IT sustainability, it is not without its challenges.”

Findings, which are based on a recent survey of 328 executives from around the world, each of whom has sustainability responsibilities, revealed that only 51 per cent reported using software to help track their IT carbon footprint, with Europe outpacing North America in the adoption of tracking software.

The lack of expertise was the second biggest challenge, according to 46 per cent of respondents, underscoring the need for education and skills development in sustainable IT practices.

Survey results indicated that IT departments lead the pack in adopting green initiatives. IT has a higher adoption rate than other departments, followed by logistics, facilities, manufacturing, and warehousing.

“This trailblazing position may be inherent,” authors of the report note. “Unlike departments that rely on intricate physical systems, heavy machinery, or complex supply chains, IT has the flexibility to pivot – for example, to the cloud, to new vendors, to optimal resources, or to cloud cost control with FinOps.

“All these moves support green IT without the financial outlay required by other domains. At 19 per cent of companies, every department has a sustainability initiative. But 88 per cent of companies without company-wide participation plan to welcome new departments to their sustainability programs within the next year – so that 19 per cent will grow.”

Going green, they write, is “good for business and companies know it. The data suggests that business benefits – led by improved brand image, cost savings, and higher ESG (environmental, social and governance) scores – serve as a catalyst for IT’s sustainability efforts.

“To a lesser degree, but not by much, external factors such as regulatory and governmental influences play a key role in driving IT sustainability initiatives. Given that regulatory and governmental requirements are on the rise, we expect these factors to rank higher on reasons to embrace IT sustainability in the years to come.

“No longer just a theoretical topic in CIO magazines, environmental sustainability has become a front-and-centre initiative that organizations are planning for and acting on.”

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Paul Barker
Paul Barker
Paul Barker is the founder of PBC Communications, an independent writing firm that specializes in freelance journalism. He has extensive experience as a reporter, feature writer and editor and has been covering technology-related issues for more than 30 years.

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