Customers and investors are now increasingly conscientious of the sustainability and energy demands of business operations. As energy usage and the impact of climate change come under greater scrutiny, motivated stakeholders want their partners to invest in making sustainable improvements, not just merely comply with existing regulations.
Crucially, customers are prepared to prioritise or neglect businesses accordingly. Partners that cannot demonstrate their environmental impact with quantifiable, easy to understand metrics, for example, will get left behind.
CRN's latest research into this area, conducted in partnership with Schneider Electric, finds that over 60 per cent of organisations admit they are under increasing pressure from customers to maintain ESG credentials, with 42 per cent further feeling the weight from investors.
Trusting ESG data
The first step to improving sustainability is to accurately assess the energy, emissions, and wider environmental impact of all business-critical areas within an organisation. This is diverse in breadth, but can include IT, buildings, energy, supply chain and procurement processes, waste, and wider areas such as company vehicles, incentives, or travel programs. However, evaluating data can be complicated and time-consuming when a lack of standardisation impedes analysis, or indeed, if there is an absence of data to begin with.
Seeking external expertise to establish well-rounded processes and systems capable of empowering precise and transparent environmental data should be top of mind. Around 1-in-2 IT decision-makers say that a tool capable of auditing their infrastructure sustainability would be of significant value to their organisation.
Across all industries, organisations recognise that providing consistent, reliable, sustainability metrics is dependent on trustworthy ESG reporting and good governance. Organisations are clearly looking to channel partners to support their ESG journey.
Specialist insight into all areas of a business's operations will provide key data to help companies accurately report on and communicate sustainability accomplishments internally and externally. As such, companies must accurately collect, manage, and report ESG data so they can be held accountable to their sustainability initiatives. Furthermore, simple to follow, standardised and actionable metrics will be vital for benchmarking and measuring progress.
While most businesses are beginning to address their environmental impact, concerns over budgets and security can also overshadow sustainability prioritisation. Barriers to progressing with ESG reporting or sustainability commitments can encompass all business areas, from senior leadership buy-in to a lack of funding, or the ability to balance ESG with growth objectives.
Most incorrectly assume that investing in greener initiatives will be costly and may disenchant business leaders from fully committing to sustainability improvements. This can make the pressure to contend with ESG priorities even more complicated.
While advancing ESG and sustainability does indeed require strategic planning and upfront expenditure, with time comes the visible impacts of cost savings and reduced emissions. Upgrading IT, cloud and other areas of critical infrastructure, for example, greatly reduces energy consumption greatly, and lowers both operating expenses and carbon footprints. With this, leadership can not only communicate their efficiency to their customers, but further demonstrate the long-term benefits to investors.
For those that haven't yet committed to ESG, it can be difficult to establish where to begin. However, the increasing pressure to demonstrate value in this space, means ESG reporting and sustainability commitments are now a must-have for IT channel businesses. Keeping tangible data as the focus of ESG reporting allows strategy to be linked to stakeholder expectations.
For those in the channel there is now a significant opportunity to support their customers in their ESG journeys. Over 60 per cent of organisations agree having the right channel partner is vital to meeting sustainability ambitions. Evaluating sustainability with accurate tooling, assessments and consultancy will be critical for organisations wanting to achieve their strategic sustainability goals and engage customers on the journey to net zero.
Moreover, channel partners' strategic insight and expertise into sustainable technologies has become invaluable to end-users - a trend which is set to continue long into the future.
To learn more about CRN's research into approaching sustainable business, read the full report here.
This article is sponsored by Schneider Electric.