CDW Blog

Why delaying action on net zero will cost you more in the long run

1 July, 2024 / by CDW


The need to consider carbon cost of IT initiatives ASAP

We all know that businesses must improve energy efficiency and reduce their carbon emissions, but is the environmental impact of trends such as Generative AI (GenAI) fully understood across your company's leadership? Similarly, remote and hybrid working models are now commonplace, but can you quantify their effect on your ESG targets?

Digital transformations provide opportunities for the whole organisation to improve performance, offering exciting new tools and increasingly customer- and employee-focused ways of working. But at what financial and environmental cost? What do such IT advances mean for your energy bills and carbon footprint? Does their power consumption overshadow the sustainability progress you're making elsewhere? The corporate carbon reduction conundrum is real and requires urgent attention.

Bringing the topic of IT energy efficiency to colleagues from other business disciplines is essential for progression of corporate sustainability initiatives. Meaningful discussions at the highest levels can prevent siloing and create the corporate alignment needed for Net Zero 2050 success. Gaining cross-discipline support for plans to optimise energy efficiency of the IT estate will help secure budgets and accelerate implementation. And there's good reason for acting as quickly as possible. Data.

We recently interviewed and surveyed senior IT professionals from a range of industry sectors, and we found that many were not confident in their organisation's data classification strategy. This is just one of the insights we share in our report here, and it's a big deal. Particularly considering the huge amount of information processed for GenAI activities, and the complexity of modern working environments which can lead to data being stored in multiple locations and devices. A suboptimal data storage strategy uses more power than necessary, wasting money and creating greater carbon emissions needlessly.

“Most people don’t understand their data well enough to make an informed decision on whether they should keep it or not.”

Rob Sims, Chief Technologist, CDW UK

While it may come as no surprise that the amount of data generated is set to increase significantly, with one forecast suggesting global data creation could increase from 64 ZB in 2020 to >180 ZB in 20251, the pace of this increase—just 2 ZB was generated in 2010—highlights the problem with acting on carbon initiatives too slowly. The amount of data that businesses are working with is growing exponentially. So, what does this mean?

If you don't make progress with energy reduction and carbon emissions now, the problem will rapidly get worse and cost your business more to resolve.

Our report, 'The Corporate Carbon Reduction Conundrum. Perspectives on the Impact of IT Advances on Energy Optimisation Initiatives 2024' here.

shares IT carbon reduction perspectives from a variety of organisations and suggests practical steps CIOs and other IT professionals can take to bring energy efficiency to the top of their corporate agenda. It also includes guidance on how to get other C-suite leaders on board with making sustainable choices for the IT estate.

With thought-provoking questions designed to help you consider your own unique carbon reduction conundrum, our report will help you move your IT strategy in a more cost-effective and sustainable direction.

Download your free copy of 'The Corporate Carbon Reduction Conundrum. Perspectives on the Impact of IT Advances on Energy Optimisation Initiatives 2024' here.


1Statista (2023). Amount of data created, consumed, and stored 2010-2020, with forecasts to 2025, published 16 November 2023.