How the IT channel is working to prove the supply chain’s sustainability credentials

Different green wavelengths going up and down
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Sustainability has been moving up the business agenda for several years, and is now the number-one priority for the channel. Today, environmental credentials are under the microscope as enterprises search for suppliers to help them meet environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) targets. 

VARs, MSPs, and MSSPs have always worked within a challenging procurement landscape. The question is, can IT channel suppliers illustrate and communicate support of environmental initiatives?

Businesses demanding sustainability credentials from every supplier are directly impacting the IT channel. Companies here are under pressure to deliver on each purchasing cycle: groups of technologies that have verifiable sustainability credentials across any given inventory. Also, the sector is increasingly being asked to ensure comprehensive IT Asset Management (ITAM) strategies are in place to help enterprises that rely on the channel to meet ESG needs.

Channel partners are also reacting to the wider environmental debate as Tom Archer, UK regional sales manager of Nerdio, explains. “The looming climate crisis has forced players in the channel landscape to put sustainability goals at the top of their agenda,” he tells ChannelPro

“There’s a growing sense of urgency from organizations to limit their carbon footprints and to change processes to decrease energy consumption.

"One of the key components that help organizations prove their credentials and their commitment to sustainability is using cloud-based solutions. There is evidence that cloud is helping reduce organizations’ carbon emissions while increasing energy efficiency.”

In practice, established relationships between VARs and customers, for example, have always been mutually beneficial. As the need to prove green IT credentials becomes a differentiator, the channel has had to step up.

How is the channel measuring sustainability?

Governments and regulators have cranked up pressure on organizations to show what they’re doing to protect the environment, moving ESG up the business agenda. Suppliers have also had to adapt to remain competitive. The multifaceted nature of the channel has meant vendors need to expand their networks and have closer working relationships with suppliers to ensure sustainable credentials can be verified. They’ve also often influenced those in their supply chain to change.

“As sustainability regulation becomes increasingly rigorous and new EU reporting directives take effect, it’s essential for companies that don’t prioritize sustainability to comprehend and operationalize their ESG commitments with each contractual relationship,” says Bernadette Bulacan, Chief Evangelist at Icertis.

Regulatory compliance has always impacted businesses and their IT suppliers. As Sheryl Moore, head of sustainability at the circular provider of IT solutions Stone points out, there must be standardized sustainability measurements.

“A lot of businesses are looking to organizations such as the United Nations Sustainability Goals (SDG) or the Global Reporting Initiatives (GRI), but many of these sustainability frameworks are considerably expensive and require numerous data analysts to collate the required information,” explains Moore. 

“Even so, if businesses are looking to explore these frameworks, does it really mean their products are sustainably produced? It seems that many still concentrate on the ‘E’ in ESG or are focused solely on their carbon emissions, but sustainability is not a singular challenge. There is not one sole solution.”

The multifaceted nature of sustainability – which includes the circular economy, for example – has placed challenges within the IT channel that vendors have been active in resolving. Often, this means closely inspecting their own supply chains, with customers demanding detailed sustainability reports to be available for every device and service. These efforts have forced a new sustainable ecosystem of digital tools to spring into existence.

Building environmental relationships

An integrated approach to environmental credentials within the IT channel is critical for the long-term profitability of channel suppliers, as Terry Storrar, managing director of Leaseweb UK, tells ITPro

“Industry commitments to the environment mean that sustainability is front of mind across the channel,” explains Storrar. “Every company has a responsibility to drive the sustainability agenda and create real worthwhile change. It is no longer acceptable to pass this down the road as something that someone else will deal with. It is very positive that everyone I speak with is buying into this.”


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Storrar adds customers are, inevitably, a key driver of sustainability initiatives, and it’s something they need during initial discussions. “What we find is that companies are not making their tech decisions based on sustainability alone – there are other criteria that come into play.”

The key to becoming more sustainable across IT is fostering closer working relationships between the channel and its customers. Buying cycles often measured in several years are also changing businesses’ relationships with their suppliers. The motivation to become more sustainable creates long-term partnerships and not just seller and buyer connections.

“I think investors and legislation is a driving force behind the sustainability agenda,” says Moore. “Many manufacturers are large organizations with numerous stakeholders to engage with, and with legislation being implemented on an international level, businesses are now facing pressure to be more sustainable. Not just from their customers, but from the financial sector who are insisting on risk planning and disclosure of their sustainability credentials.”

As the sustainability landscape continues to evolve, IT channel suppliers are at the vanguard of these changes. The sustainability credentials of IT have been increasingly under the spotlight. Enterprises understand their sustainability credentials must be comprehensive and clearly communicated. Increasingly, business leaders are looking to the IT channel to support them and even deliver detailed IT sustainability management across their IT estates. 

David Howell

David Howell is a freelance writer, journalist, broadcaster and content creator helping enterprises communicate.

Focussing on business and technology, he has a particular interest in how enterprises are using technology to connect with their customers using AI, VR and mobile innovation.

His work over the past 30 years has appeared in the national press and a diverse range of business and technology publications. You can follow David on LinkedIn.