Green Data is the Next Environmental Challenge for Business

    By Mark Robison, Board Director

    Mark Robison

    This article originally appeared in Sustainable Business Magazine.

    The demand for data is growing exponentially and shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, we have seen a six-fold increase in data centre workloads over the past decade. But as demand for data grows, so too does the supporting infrastructure and energy needed to power it.

    Data storage poses significant environmental challenges. Data centres are inherently large consumers of electricity and water, used to both run and cool the servers, respectively. This level of consumption results in data centres contributing around 2% to global carbon emissions. And this requirement for data storage will only increase with time. In fact, projections indicate that by 2030, the demand for enterprise storage capacity could skyrocket by a staggering 23 times.

    As such, IT leaders must reassess their data storage technologies and embrace energy conservation initiatives to control costs and reduce their carbon footprint.

    Green Tech Practices

    Cloud infrastructure is arguably the most fundamental move a company can make to a more sustainable, less carbon-intensive future. By overhauling outdated systems and embracing cloud-based solutions, businesses can reduce storage needs, optimise resources and achieve an expected 80% reduction in energy consumption and associated carbon emissions. If cloud-computing usage continues its upward trajectory, market projections indicate an expected growth of nearly 18% from 2022 to 2027.

    But organisations shouldn’t stop at addressing storage concerns. Integrating environmentally conscious data handling and coding practices within an organisation can significantly mitigate the environmental impact of data. For instance, by analysing user activity, engineers can reduce data consumption by identifying redundant features within an application, enabling them to retire unnecessary components that no longer provide value.

    Manage Data For Good

    Proactively mitigating the impact of data can provide multiple benefits for an organisation. In today’s consumer and investor landscape, sustainability holds increasing importance, it directly affects an organisation’s reputation and revenue. After all, 66% of consumers consider sustainability when making a purchase.

    Moreover, adopting green data storage and processing practices has been proven to generate cost-saving benefits. For instance, BJSS teamed up with the NHS to digitally transform the e-Referral Service. This service is used by over 1,100 organisations, facilitating the selection, booking, and modification of more than 75,000 referral appointment requests every working day. By migrating this system to the cloud, it is estimated to have saved taxpayers £50.5 million annually.

    Given the growing significance of mitigating data impact, now is the time to invest in sustainable IT solutions or risk losing out.

    Start Taking Action Now 

    In our eBook, Getting Started on Sustainability: A Guide for Tech Leads, we outline practical recommendations for technology leaders to take action in their sustainability strategy.

    We anchor our recommendations for addressing the three core components we’ve discussed with an exploration of the following:

    • Data: The critical role of data in developing comprehensive sustainability strategies, from getting insights in front of decision makers so they can guide risk and identify opportunities, to balancing the need for data intelligence against the carbon intensity required for its generation.
    • Design: How to responsibly design employee interfaces, customer journeys, and technology solutions, and balance customer impact with environmental footprint. The importance of how and when information is presented for motivating end users to make sustainable choices and decisions.
    • Engineering: Ensuring the environmental impact of engineering the different systems and applications that underpin the technology strategy and sustainability goals is minimised by adhering to green principles, practices, and workflows.
    • Governance and culture: The importance of embedding a ‘sustainability-conscious’ culture and how this can be achieved by defining roles, incentivising and empowering employees, introducing key project controls, and holding individuals accountable for core success measures.

    Download the eBook now to explore how you can use technology to deliver actionable insights, empower and influence end-user choices, and reduce the carbon impact of your organisation.