Guest Column | November 3, 2022

The Importance Of Sustainability Best Practices To Closing Deals

By Christina Walker, Blancco

Sustainable development Green Business-GettyImages-1353967009

In the age of the climate crisis, businesses have an increasingly important role to play in modelling sustainable best practices. In 2021, the number of governments and large companies setting goals to reach net zero emissions by 2050 grew rapidly. ESG funds now account for 10% of worldwide fund assets with more than $600 billion pouring in worldwide throughout 2021, up from $285 billion in 2020 and 2019, according to Refinitiv Lipper. New global ESG-related standards will continue to evolve to curb greenwashing and guide best practices.

The channel community is taking note of how enterprises are now prioritizing their ESG objectives more heavily than ever before. This newfound customer focus on sustainability objectives affects how partners evaluate their portfolio of IT solutions providers. I’ve seen this change first-hand over the past year as I have noticed a significant uptick in inquiries, requests, and questions about how we as a technology provider can support ESG objectives. Many enterprises prioritize vendors who can show a serious commitment to sustainability best practices, and partners benefit from these proof points to help close deals.

As enterprise ESG objectives continue to ramp up, there are a few sustainability considerations for partners to consider when reviewing their technology solution supplier portfolio from a sustainability perspective. These areas are becoming increasingly important to enterprise IT decision makers and can help bolster key conversations in the sales process:

Customer Expectations And Vendor Sustainability Practices

For partners, understanding each customer’s philosophy and expectations toward IT suppliers is a critical first step in identifying whether there is alignment on this matter of rising significance to businesses. If an IT vendor has glaring sustainability missteps internally it may become a turnoff for the customer and affect the partner relationship. This is especially true if the vendor presents their organization as one that’s mindful of sustainability best practices but then turns out to be involved in “greenwashing” (an organization’s insincere display of concern for the environment). Such a situation can cause a breakdown in trust and even long-term reputation damage. John Oliver had an episode of his popular HBO TV show recently dedicated to greenwashing, and no company wants to end up an example on such a program.

Impact Of Vendor Carbon Emissions Status On Customer ESG Performance

It may be a lesser-known fact within the channel community, but carbon emissions calculations typically include third-party suppliers as an extension of an organization’s total carbon footprint. So, one element to consider in evaluating solutions in your portfolio is that IT suppliers with the smallest carbon footprint (or, better yet, carbon neutral) can offer tangible and quantifiable benefits to customers. With regulations tightening around ESG performance, partners can show customers value by referring solutions that consider their organization’s carbon emissions objectives.

Role Of ROT Data And ‘Cyber Waste’ In Sustainability Objectives

A report from Veritas Global Databerg found that at least 85% of stored data is either dark or Redundant, Obsolete or Trivial (ROT) data— to put that into context, the amount of data created every day is expected to exceed 463 exabytes by 2025. (An exabyte is one billion gigabytes.) These are some heavy-duty storage needs that take an incredible toll on the consumption of valuable energy resources! If even some of the 85% of the stored dark and ROT data is eliminated, it would significantly reduce the “cyber waste” we are seeing accumulate in “cyber landfills” and forge a course toward climate change. Looking at technology partners’ positions on cyber waste management (and energy use) also can be a helpful way to understand an organization’s true carbon footprint.

Attitudes Towards Reuse, Recycling, And Reducing eWaste

Businesses often resort to the physical destruction of IT equipment to address data security concerns related to the sensitive data that remains on end-of-life devices; however, physical destruction creates a major environmental challenge in creating avoidable (potentially hazardous) e-waste in our landfills. Technology companies with solutions supporting the reuse and recycling of equipment or otherwise contributing to the circular economy offer a great value add. Making piles of e-waste can be avoided through proper education, partner collaboration, and a better understanding of data sanitization options, thereby safeguarding the sanctity of an organization’s environmental practices and reputation.

Whether they are looking to improve their carbon footprint, seeking to align philosophically with like-minded companies, or wanting to steer clear of the potential for “bad” PR associated with environmentally unsound practices, organizations worldwide are prioritizing sustainability initiatives. As a result, channel companies are increasingly likely to view their solutions providers through this lens, and ultimately benefit from identifying environmentally responsible technology suppliers who can show value in closing deals.

About The Author

Christina Walker is Global Director of Channel Sales & Programs for Blancco.