Planes, trains, and automobiles.
No, not the movie with John Candy and Steve Martin.
We’re talking about what typically comes to mind when we think of greenhouse gas emissions.
Except we’re not talking about those “typical” things either.
Because today we’re talking about information and communication technology (ICT).
Did you know that the ICT sector is believed to produce almost twice as much greenhouse gas emissions as the aviation sector?
That’s based on estimations that aviation is responsible for roughly 2 percent of global emissions, compared to as much as 3.9% currently being contributed by ICT. (Keep in mind, however, that “apples to apples” comparisons are challenging when it comes to estimating emissions. Links to studies here and here.)
Regardless of how far down the rabbit hole you go to consider all the factors that go into emissions by industry, study analysts have concluded that “ICT emissions will not reduce without major concerted political and industrial efforts.” In fact, they provide all the reasons why they anticipate that “ICT emissions are actually going to increase without intervention” (italics in original).
We’d be silly not to admit that (1) data traffic will only continue to rise, (2) energy demand will only continue to grow, and (3) data centre and network service demands will only continue to increase.
The question is, what can we do about it?
The emergence of Green IT
The concept of Green IT has been around since the early 1990s and is a big umbrella term for initiatives, methodologies, and tools focused on environmental sustainability in information technology.
But even though the idea isn’t new, making it a priority in tech is going to take a big mindset shift from a business perspective.
“We have always associated digital with clean,” said Sanjay Podder—technology sustainability innovation lead at Accenture—at a Green Software Foundation event during COP27. He cites the simple example of our move away from paper to digital as being a “green” initiative.
In essence, we’re having to reframe the way we think about information technology in relation to climate change and sustainability.
Podder, who also serves as a steering member at the Green Software Foundation, cites research projecting that, if left unchecked, ICT’s greenhouse gas emissions will rise from 1.6% of total emissions in 2007 to 14% by 2040.
He also delves into the business benefits of going green. More on that later!
First, let’s look at some shiny new tech that’s actually doing something about IT’s carbon footprint.
It’s called Sopht.
What is Sopht?
Sopht is an end-to-end GreenOps platform that enables organisations to augment their FinOps and decarbonize their IT in an automated fashion.
A first-of-its-kind platform, Sopht believes that tech must “solve its own environmental impact.” Their mission is to make it easy for companies to pilot their own environmental responsibility.
Sopht was founded in 2021 by Jérémie Veg, Julien Rouzé, Gautier Levert. The startup, which is based in Lyon and Paris, France, has secured pre-seed funding.
How does Sopht work to decarbonise IT?
Sopht works in three main ways.
- It has an automated process to collect data through the entire IT value chain, such as IT assets, usage, cloud, network, and so on.
- Sopht evaluates the data collected against the most up-to-date environmental standards and frameworks, such as the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol, and the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME).
- It helps to define carbon reduction targets and allocates them to the appropriate IT teams or members.
Sopht can be used in a multi-cloud environment. You can use it to analyse and compare things like infrastructure costs between the different cloud providers in your environment.
Sopht has a “Simulator” on their website, where you can input details such as the number and types of devices so you can see a visual representation of your electrical consumption and hardware carbon debt.
What are the benefits of using Sopht?
Building a sustainability strategy into your technology roadmap and business strategy gives you a leg up in every way:
- You will position yourself to outperform competitors that are slow to adopt these priorities.
- Having a sound GreenOps strategy boosts your attractiveness to shareholders.
- You will be more profitable because of consistent reduction in costs and optimal efficiency.
- Your organisation will be seen as an industry leader to be emulated.
- You will attract top talent, as future-forward professionals want to advance their careers in workplaces that are aligned and compliant with environmental sustainability goals.
In January 2023, KPMG released findings from a UK study that “almost one in two (46 percent) of people want the company they work for to demonstrate a commitment to ESG [Environmental, Social, and Governance]” factors. In fact, they found that overall, “one in five respondents (20 percent) said they had turned down a job because the company’s ESG commitments were not in line with their values, rising to one in three for 18–24-year-olds.”
Clearly, companies that put Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) objectives on the back burner will lag behind, as slow adoption will have knock-on effects.
Conversely, companies that are championing the cause and taking measurable action will create a compounding effect of positive outcomes—in terms of operational efficiency, profitability, eligibility for special grants, investor attraction, employee perception, innovation, you name it.
And Sopht may very well become one piece of the puzzle in taking ownership of your GreenOps strategy and overall ESG goals as an organisation.
Sopht is still a new kid on the block, but it is well worth the watch!
At Devoteam, sustainability is a core value. It drives our own business model and is central to the solutions we develop for customers. We’re always keeping our finger on the pulse to help you move your business forward in a way that makes this world a better place for everyone. Get in touch with us anytime.
How can I learn more?
This article is part of a larger series centred around the technologies and themes found within the 2023 edition of the TechRadar by Devoteam report. To learn more about Sopht and other emerging technologies you need to know, please download the TechRadar by Devoteam.