Q&A with CRN Tech Impact partner Softcat

Chief operating officer Al Wynn reveals his quick wins on how to become more sustainable, and who he most admires for their sustainability credentials

Doug Woodburn
clock • 3 min read

Are sustainability and commercial success mutually exclusive?

Currently, no, but in time, I firmly believe they'll become more closely aligned. At present, product and especially partner selection is very much about commercials, value and experience and many wouldn't necessarily build sustainability into their thinking in the selection process.  Moving forwards, as organisations have sustainability targets and ambitions, every product and partner selection matters and can get you closer to that target, or further away. As such, it's likely that sustainability will really drive supplier rationalisation and consolidation exercises, thereby seeing leaders thrive and laggards fight to survive. It will take several years, but sustainability and commercial success will become intrinsically linked.

What is the most ambitious goal your company has set around environmental or social sustainability?

To have a net zero supply chain by 2040. This is a big and bold target, but one that we're fully behind, and ultimately this drives everything we're doing as an organisation. This isn't about just us, but our ecosystem as a whole and we need everyone to play their part to deliver net zero solutions - this means vendor products and supply, distribution and warehousing, reseller activities, and logistics services to customers. We hope that others will align with this ambition to allow us all an industry to take responsibility and succeed together.

What's the most shocking sustainability-related stat you've heard?

Zero - zero is the most important number to remember. There are so many other stats in play but this is the one that matters most. I've recently been ready Bill Gates' book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, and in this book he quite rightly points out that net zero is what we all need to be aiming for, nothing else will quite cut it to repair the damage that has been done to the planet. We need to act now, and aim for zero to reverse the position and benefit future generations.  

Looking at your company's products, solutions and services, how often is sustainability now part of the conversation at an end-user level?

About a year ago, I was having a handful of conversations a week on the topic, now it's several every day. We're also seeing and hearing much more demand and interest from customers, vendors and partners too, which is great.

Are there any quick wins for MSPs and resellers that are looking to become more sustainable?

It's most important to start with education and awareness. If you're not yet familiar with the topic and the impact, start by educating yourself and to raise awareness with others around you, especially to get stakeholder support. Start to challenge yourselves in terms of what you do, how you do it and why you do it. Decisions, plans and strategies should consider the impact of sustainability and you should think about the pace and priorities of your plan to make early progress gain support and influence others.  

Which IT company do you most admire for its sustainability credentials?

Hmm, good question, there are a handful of vendors that are doing wonderful things, but with some very different and interesting angles - I'd include in that group Microsoft, HP Inc, Lenovo and Logitech.

How would you assess the IT channel's record on sustainability overall?

Good, but we could do so much more, together. We need everyone to get behind this. Everyone has a part to play, no matter how big or small. We need to come together to deliver a truly net zero, circular economy.

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