Gartner flags missed opportunities for enterprises to make cost-effective green IT gains

Gartner flags missed opportunities for enterprises to make cost-effective green IT gains

The market insight firm claims sustainable IT initiatives which represent the easiest wins are being underused by enterprises.

Published on 3rd July 2024

Enterprises are missing out on some cost-effective, easy wins when it comes to delivering on sustainable IT goals, data from market watcher Gartner has suggested.

According to the findings of a survey of 200 senior leaders from across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, it appears that despite embarking on a number of sustainable IT projects, companies are sometimes overlooking the more cost-effective initiatives.

So much so, its data shows that some of the most cost-effective sustainable IT initiatives have less than a 30% adoption rate by organisations.

Kristin Moyer, distinguished vice-president analyst at Gartner, said its research shows that senior leaders are making solid progress on their sustainable IT initiatives, but their approaches and strategies could use some refining.

“The survey found that executive leaders have completed an average of nine sustainable IT initiatives in the categories of datacentres and cloud, digital workplace, data, and software,” said Moyer.

“However, sustainable IT adoption patterns show that executives might not always be implementing the most cost-effective initiatives.”

The research’s aim was to assess the actions and impacts of enterprises as they seek to reduce their IT greenhouse gas emissions, and the resulting 12-page report is geared towards helping senior leaders work out how to make the budget allocated to supporting such initiatives go further.

IT initiatives

The report identifies six sustainable IT initiatives that enterprises can adopt that it claims are cost-effective, but are being overlooked by senior leaders, with two of them centred on the datacentre.

According to its research, senior leaders have completed an average of 3.2 datacentre initiatives that can have a positive impact on their wider sustainable IT strategies.

Most common among them is adopting renewable energy sources to power their sites, removing “zombie” equipment and migrating their applications and workloads to the cloud.

However, there are two further courses of action senior leaders could take that are less commonly adopted by their peers and could have a big impact, which are right-sizing their facility’s uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and revamping its cooling setup.

“Enhanced cooling is being underutilised,” the report stated. “The availability of enhanced cooling makes it more feasible for datacentre owners to move away from air-based cooling – since doing so does not have to involve increasing water intensity.

“The greenhouse gas [GHG] reduction potential is somewhat indirect, but it can still be significant. UPS rightsizing has the lowest level of adoption of all sustainable IT initiatives we surveyed, but it typically achieves moderate GHG reduction with low levels of investment.”

Another area where lower-cost changes could bring around sizeable sustainable IT gains is through championing the purchasing of refurbished IT assets, the report added. “Refurbished assets reduce the embodied carbon and energy impact, and halve the expense of additional labour and costs to decommission and procure new equipment,” it said.

Before these refurbished assets are obtained, the report also stated that senior leaders should consider undertaking an “analytics-driven” assessment of the devices and hardware they are replacing to ensure they are not getting rid of them prematurely.

“Prematurely replacing devices with residual useful life wastes money and time, and it increases e-waste,” the report continued. “Analytics, rather than life span, can determine the optimal time to replace laptops, PCs and servers.”

Another way that enterprises can make their IT more sustainable in a cost-effective way is through cultivating closer ties with their IT suppliers. “Engaging vendors on sustainable software, and sustainable IT more generally, is a critical but underutilised initiative,” the report said.

“From our work with clients, Scope 3 emissions from vendors often account for around two-thirds of IT-related GHG. The only way executives will be able to reduce scope 3 IT emissions will be through collaborating with vendors to make and use their solutions in more sustainable ways.”

And the final initiative executives should consider introducing is rolling out sustainable user experience (UX) changes to how their customer-facing sites and apps function.

“Sustainable UX is also an underutilised opportunity,” the report said. “For example, choosing not to put massive autoplayed video clips on a website is something executive leaders can do right now, without any trade-offs.”


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