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Reporting on Your E2E Sustainability

Author:

Tim Russell

Modern Workspace

•  Feb 28, 2024

When we talk about employment and cost, we often think about financial impact, but there is much more than that. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “fully loaded costs”, but I wonder if you have ever thought about your fully loaded impact? 

What Is Your True Cost?

A financial model of an employee is relatively simple; pension, pay, share of property lease, management, taxes etc. The modelling of an employee’s end-to-end environmental impact is somewhat trickier. We have the commuting to the office, device power consumption, share of building heating or cooling and so on. But what about the impact of applications, utilities, and tools such as AI, how do you measure these? 

When a user clicks on an icon on their desktop this seems innocuous enough, but the entire ecosystem that exists either on the device or in the cloud has an environmental cost. You are reporting on scope2 currently. Do you understand where you can optimise this outside of the large-scale changes most organisations are undertaking by moving to public cloud solutions, which move a lot of your data reporting into scope3? There are many things that impact your consumption of scope2 utilities, from inefficient coding to inappropriately sized data sets; all of which could be measured, reported on, and optimised.  

Outside of datacentre consumption, organisations have a responsibility to make their premises and the way their employees work as sustainable as possible. Here at CDW, I have been working with suppliers to understand how their solutions work towards this, but also how the culmination of capabilities can deliver efficiencies to all environments under the control of an organisation. 

One such example is the utilisation of smart tech to monitor building occupation, which in turn controls heating, lighting, and cooling. With this data being continually analysed by AI it is possible to also start creating trends to allow proactive adjustment of environmental variables. Front-of-room meeting equipment from most vendors now includes environmental monitoring, and this data is already being used to help enhance meeting experiences.  

Although there are several schools of thought, travelling to and from a location to do your job has an impact; businesses focus on the ability of employees to collaborate and work together regardless of location on an equitable basis. Again, a lot of suppliers are working on this from a technology angle, however, there is more than just technology in the equation. Company culture, room, and environmental setup can enhance the remote and physical experience to the point where the differences are almost seamless.

Back in my youth I remember the old analogue conference call pods on desks in meeting rooms; if you were on the other end of that connection, you had one of two roles; passive observer or overly loud, commanding the entire room of listeners. I have seen both scenarios along with all the technical issues suffered by users, and how this can quickly derail the goal of a meeting. Technology that is used to enable remote and physical parties to communicate must absolutely deliver the same level of interaction, individual awareness, and ability to collaborate that sitting in the same room should supply.

One of the phrases that Kyle Davies, Head of the Office of the CTO at CDW, uses is that “Hybrid meetings suck”, and in some cases he is correct, especially when you are the only remote participant, as it can lead to a 2nd citizen experience. However, there are answers to this depending on your work styles. 

An area that is often overlooked is the cost of data storage. If you look at your cloud storage or your email, is there a duplication of a document or an email attachment with a revision number in its title? Every bit of data that is stored has a cost, and every duplicated byte creates an unnecessary cost. Some vendors in the consumer domain are already releasing de-duplication tools for people’s photo;, one of the places in which duplication is most prevalent. Just imagine you have one photo duplicated, with recent phones and high-definition cameras you could have a Raw image file that is 25Mb in size. That 25 becomes 50Mb and with the global number of smart phone contracts in excess of 7 billion, you could equate every user having only one duplicated photo to approximately 20 terabytes, and that is just for one photo!  

There is a level of automation, policy and training required to help resolve this problem. With an explosive use of cloud services, the capacity limitations become trivial to users no longer concerned with the size of the hard drive in their desktop device or the storage on their mobile phone as it is all ‘in the cloud’.

When was the last time you shared a file with someone, did you send a link to a file in the cloud or attach the physical item? Items that have been attached physically deliver their own conundrum with version numbers and merging being just one of the administrative challenges, regardless of the insecurity of internet-based emails where insecure attachments can be read without security checks (unless protected). Cloud services are designed to share the same version of a file and to allow real-time collaboration. Businesses must see this adoption and use of this capability as addressing three critical needs: productivity, security, and environmental impact. Attaching a document should become as outdated as sending a full document by post because it requires a signature. 

Summary  

In the next 18 to 24 months I expect that we will see a significant shift in the way businesses and individuals use cloud services to store, share and collaborate on their data, and how individual environmental impact is monitored. The benefits of cloud-based solutions are clear: they offer greater efficiency, security, and sustainability than traditional methods of sending and storing files. However, there are also challenges and risks associated with cloud adoption, such as data governance, compliance, privacy, and user complacency around data storage capacity. Therefore, it is essential that organisations implement leading practices and policies to ensure that their data is protected, managed, and used effectively and efficiently. 

Next Steps  

If you would like to understand more about how you can create actionable data and insight into your application and users’ environmental footprints, please get in touch with us at CDW. We are eager to help drive environmental improvement schemes and apply best practices in your business to protect and improve the world around us.  

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