High-Performance Doesn’t have to Cost the Earth | The Role of Leading Organisations in Carbon Reduction
High-performance companies from every major industry form the backbone of the global economy. They are driven by a disciplined focus on progression, development and innovation, often resulting in exceptional financial success and influence. They often have the potential to influence consumer habits and culture by providing market leading, innovative goods and services.
High-performance organisations are defined by the HPO Centre (world thought leaders in high performance) as:
“An organisation that achieves financial and non-financial results that are exceedingly better than those of its peer group over a period of time of five years or more, by focusing in a disciplined way on what really matters to the organisation.”
In the majority of cases, the drive for companies to achieve success is greatly fuelled by investments in technology. In a recent article by McKinsey and Company, it was highlighted that, “Leading businesses are investing as much in upgrading the core of their business as they are in innovation, often by harnessing technology.”
Because of their drive for success and focus on progressive technology, these organisations, with a hyper-focused discipline on targets, can neglect wider issues in favour of optimising their operations, structure and assets. Sustainability and the carbon footprint are issues that have been historically neglected by many of these businesses.
However, to create a liveable future, carbon footprint reduction is now a necessity for companies around the world. The IPCC (the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) recently released their second report in a three-part series that outlines the impacts of climate change on society and the planet both now and in the future. According to Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of the IPCC Working Group II, "any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future.”
The reduction in carbon production for leading businesses, however, must align with the existing goals and targets of the organisation and not jeopardise the accelerated productivity and innovation of the company’s IT operations. By aligning carbon reduction with high-performance IT, leading companies can protect business development and productivity, whilst enabling a sustainable future globally.
The “Link” Between High-Performance and Carbon Production
Why has performance driven business become so aligned with high-carbon footprint?
Historically, industry-leading companies have not had a glistening record when it comes to sustainability and excessive carbon production. In 2017 it was reported that over 70% of the world’s carbon footprint was produced by only 90 companies. Two years later, in 2019, it was further reported that only 20 firms have produced over 35% of all energy related carbon dioxide and methane worldwide since 1965.
These shocking figures have put these businesses under increasing public and legislative scrutiny; according to a survey by Nielsen, 81% of consumers strongly believe that businesses should actively help to improve the environment. This in turn increases the pressures on leading organisations to reduce their environmental impact and aligns high performance businesses with excessive carbon footprint in the minds of the public.
It is undeniable that large organisations, fuelled by purchases from consumers, businesses and governments alike, have played an integral part in digging the hole of climate change that we now find ourselves stuck in. However, these businesses can and must now play an integral part in digging us all back out.
Rising Pressures for Carbon Reduction
With The Climate Change Act of 2008, the UK government has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050. As a result of this act, reporting on and working to reduce carbon footprint is increasingly important. It is already required by UK law that large businesses report on their carbon production as part of the Companies Act 2006.
Even as recently as 2019, the UK government committed to adding an additional milestone into its original pledge and has stated its intentions to reduce the UK’s carbon footprint by 78% by 2035. With the historical alignment between ambitious businesses and carbon production, it is easy to predict who will be most affected by upcoming legislation and wider commercial and societal pressures regarding carbon reduction as the UK government strives to reach this 78% goal.
It is also expected that the annual reporting on carbon production for companies will be disseminated down to smaller businesses as our country’s carbon reduction journey accelerates.
Therefore, as governmental and societal pressures grow, along with increasingly strict future legislation, it is important for high-performance business, both small and large, to be aware of, to understand and work towards a significant and accelerating reduction in their carbon footprints. It is, in fact, imperative for their own continued success and a more sustainable future for all.
However, ambitious businesses must also recognise that they can achieve major carbon reduction whilst retaining and, in the longer term improving, their business performance, efficiency and profitability through innovative technology.
Reducing Carbon Footprint in a High-Performance Organisation
Technology is a significant value creator and multiplier for leading companies and, as such, retaining the performance, scale, innovation and productivity of IT systems, whilst also adapting them to a more sustainable model, is essential for these organisations.
“Data is providing the fuel to power better and faster decisions. High performance organisations are three times more likely than others to say their data and analytics initiatives have contributed at least 20 percent to EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) (from 2016-2019).”
A capable IT system that allows the collection, storage, organisation, and dissemination of data is crucial to the financial performance of leading businesses. As such, investing in IT is a core strategy for financial growth in these organisations, and this cannot change to allow for continued development. Yet, technology is also a major contributor to a company’s carbon footprint, especially when experiencing accelerated growth.
IT systems can, however, be adapted and managed to retain performance and capabilities, whilst decreasing carbon footprint. It is this approach that industry leading organisations must take in order to protect business interests and reduce carbon production.
The word optimisation is an exciting concept for ambitious businesses. After all, their entire business models are designed for optimal commercial performance and output for continued company growth. However, what these organisations often do not realise is that IT systems can be optimised to provide not only higher performance, but also higher efficiency in power consumption and cooling.
Optimising the servers, computers and networking devices within a high-productivity organisation’s IT system through component level upgrades and hardware can result in significant reductions in carbon production from business IT equipment.
Utilising powerful, yet energy efficient components, such as NVMe SSDs, which drive productivity but also cut energy expenditure, are key to lowering carbon production. This is demonstrated in a study by Micron which states that:
“NVMe SSDs draw a maximum energy load of 25 watts compared to about 7.2 watts for a 15,000 RPM HDD. However, one NVMe can potentially replace many HDDs... Thus, the NVMe SSD has the potential to result in a significant reduction in energy use for that storage platform.”
And this is just one example of energy saving optimisation for a productive and efficient IT system.
By fully optimising an IT system, performance driven organisations can retain, and even expand upon, a powerful technological drive for their business, whilst drastically cutting carbon emissions.
IT System Analysis and Understanding
Understanding the weaknesses, strengths and potential improvements of data centre equipment for leading companies is essential to reduce carbon production. It is also important for companies to understand which metrics they need to be reporting on for a deeper understanding of their business and to aid optimisation. As stated by Peter Drucker, “what gets measured gets managed,” and so, understanding carbon production and the metrics behind this is essential for reducing emissions.
By analysing the performance of a server estate, recommendations can be made on IT hardware updates that will significantly reduce energy consumption, carbon emission and running costs for the data centres of high-performance business.
Interact is a non-intrusive, machine learning tool designed to analyse and report on server performance for entire data centres. The Interact tool makes vendor neutral, non-biased recommendations on IT hardware upgrades that produce a drastic carbon reduction and financial savings for businesses. On average, the Interact tool generates a saving of 2,800 tonnes of CO2e, $1,200,000 and 8.3MWh of energy for a business over the course of a five-year period.
Tools for server analysis and optimisation, such as Interact, are essential for carbon reduction and performance retention across entire data centre facilities. Most advanced-operation companies will run and maintain their own data centre for optimal performance. However, reducing the carbon production of this technology is necessary for a more sustainable future.
IT System Design
Carbon reduction and sustainability can be built into the heart of high-performance IT systems for progressive businesses. IT system architects can work with organisations on a one-on-one basis to offer highly advanced IT systems that are also energy efficient and designed to reduce carbon emissions.
This strategy allows these companies to design entire IT systems built around the specific needs of their business models, practices and goals for an entirely unique IT solution. IT design and implementation services also generally offer an extensive aftercare and maintenance option to protect the performance of a business's IT system and ensure that goals, financial, sustainable and performance driven, are met.
Techbuyer Enterprise Solutions offers technical expertise for the design, implementation and maintenance of bespoke IT systems for all businesses. Find out more about this service and what it can do for your business here.
High-performance does not have to cost the earth. In fact, with ground-breaking, innovative technology, ideas and practices being developed every day, high-performance is becoming increasingly aligned with sustainability.
Carbon production, in the not-so-distant future, will no longer be a consequence of optimised and productive operations, in fact, the opposite will be true. With efficiency and optimisation driving both carbon reduction and high-performance alike, it is clear that the two are already beginning to align.
High-performance and sustainability can be two sides of the same coin and it is the carbon neutral future that we are all striving for that this coin will fund.