The high-tech and telecommunications industries are under increased scrutiny for their impact on the environment. The fact is that technology is often ecologically abusive in its manufacture, operation, and afterlife. Organizations in every vertical must seriously consider their role in sustainability, as it has become an important criterion for customers.

The good news is that every organization in any vertical can take several measures on being sustainable. And many of these measures are synonymous with optimization and savings. Depending on who you are, you may be well positioned to pursue one strategy versus the other — such as procuring green energy for your operations or being part of the circular economy.

If data in any form touches your organization, you need to consider how efficiently your — or your partners’ — data centers operate and explore innovative approaches for energy savings.

To analyze the sustainability opportunities in a systematic manner, my new sustainability report proposes the following sustainability framework for companies that both produce and consume technology.

 

The various components of this framework are:

  • Procurement. Energy and water procurement are at the front and center of sustainability efforts for most companies. Apart from energy, it is also the procurement of sustainable materials for manufacturing and product development.
  • Operations. Under this is operational efficiency across the board — measures such as temperature maintenance in data centers, carbon-emission optimization, data management, and your corporate value chain.
  • Retirement. E-waste management and taking part in the circular economy not only ensures recycling but also a better customer experience. This includes designing products for reengineerability and dependability.

Cutting across these three tenets are:

  • Measurement and data. Accurate measurement of sustainability efforts and using the right parameters such as power and water-usage effectiveness are key. Often overlooked, this is the backbone of a good sustainability program.
  • Communication and partner enablement. Internal communication to strengthen your corporate culture as well as accurately communicating your efforts to customers, stakeholders, and investors can be not only differentiators in business but also enablers of goodwill.

Whether you are a technology provider or a technology consumer, elements within this framework offer opportunities to optimize further. This framework will also help in comparing the depth and breadth of various organizations’ sustainability efforts — such as green energy procurement alone versus participation in the full circular economy.

Read my report for a detailed analysis of the landscape and recommendations that technology companies can follow.