Karlton Gray, Channel Director for Schneider Electric in the UK & Ireland, shares key insights into end-user decision-making regarding sustainability; key steps that businesses can take to begin on the path to net zero; and why building a sustainable partner ecosystem will be vital to the future of the channel.
Sustainability has never been more important to the continued growth of the IT channel than it is today. In fact, it's not just about focusing on what's good for the planet now; it's about preserving it for future generations - and businesses have a key role to play.
For businesses and consumers alike, sustainability has risen right to the top of the business agenda. New research from CRN and Schneider Electric has found more than 60% of IT channel organisations agree they are under increasing pressure from customers to provide and sustain Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) credentials. Moreover, decision-makers including customers, investors, and partners, expect the organisations they work with, or purchase from, to have at least some commitments to net zero.
For the channel, the customers driving environmental initiatives within their organisations want to partner with companies who have a similar ethos or appetite for sustainability.
The ability to help customers navigate their sustainability journey will, therefore, be essential. Most are clearly expressing a motivation to achieve better sustainability and net zero goals. Sixty percent of research respondents say they are proactively working to reduce emissions, and 25% strongly aspire to reach net zero.
There is also an urgency to achieving these ambitions. Organisations are under increasing pressure to reduce their energy consumption in the face of the current cost of living crisis. With customers bracing themselves for energy shortages and mounting costs, now is the time for partners to double down on sustainability.
The vital role of channel partners
The fact remains there are many organisations that don't know where to begin. This is where channel partners can play a crucial role - the same research report found more than 60% of respondents agree having the right channel partner is vital to meeting sustainability ambitions.
To a channel partner, this may seem a daunting task to start. While most customers admit that ESG credentials are paramount to their investors and customers, just 14% of partners say sustainability credentials are a leading consideration when procuring infrastructure. More than three-quarters of firms agree that prioritising sustainability over cost, resilience, and security is difficult.
The key will be balancing boardroom expectations with sustainable procurement. When asked how those in the channel can aid sustainability and environmental concerns, providing toolsets and frameworks are top on mind for customers. They want more information, more data, and actionable metrics on which to base and make decisions. They expect better reporting on sustainability targets, the embedded carbon and environmental impact of technologies, and methods to self-gauge.
High stakes around sustainability
Other analysts have also noted how the stakes are increasing when it comes to sustainability. Customers are urgently looking to reduce their energy consumption and improve efficiency. In other words, the need for sustainability is more than just an ethical argument; it's an economic necessity.
There is a significant opportunity for channel businesses to help customers manage IT in a way that reduces their environmental impact. From lowering operating costs via modernisation programmes, to minimising carbon emissions and enabling more efficient consumption of energy, having the right partner will be critical.
A sustainable partner ecosystem
In light of these changing market dynamics, business conversations defining strategic change must become regular, and partners should seek to help their customers determine and evaluate how to quantify a return on investment via sustainability programmes. At the same time, partners must also demonstrate that customers do not need to compromise on their sustainability efforts in favour of other initiatives, and IT vendors can help support partners in addressing these challenges.
At Schneider Electric, for example, our mission is to be your ecosystem partner for sustainability and efficiency, and we are committed to helping both customers and partners to reach net zero through in several ways.
We believe, for example, that partners can help customers to define their sustainability priorities by taking strategic action and build a baseline on which to establish a meaningful plan. Here audits, assessments and consultancy services are crucial.
Through greater digitalisation and the power of open and vendor-agnostic software, both customers and partners can harness the power of data to enable more granular and transparent reporting, drive new efficiencies, and reduce operational costs via predictive analytics.
Building a sustainable partner ecosystem is vital to the future of the channel. Acting as a trusted advisor to customers and helping them pursue their environmental ambitions will not only benefit the planet, but help build a more successful, sustainable future for everyone.
To learn more about CRN's latest research alongside Schneider Electric into approaching sustainable business, read the full report here.
This article is sponsored by Schneider Electric.