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Article written by Paul Tyrer, Vice President Global IT Channels at Schneider Electric

Most IT partners are interested in pursuing sustainability strategies. Still, they need more support from vendors and enhanced clarity on how to implement them profitability, according to new research by Canalys commissioned by Schneider Electric.

The drive to sustainability opens opportunities for IT partners to offer environmentally friendly services to customers and adopt environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices in their operations. The Canalys report found that "energy optimization, energy efficiency, and managed power services are key partner opportunities."

IT solution providers are taking steps to invest in sustainability strategies. For instance, 61% of IT solution providers have at least one person focused on ESG. That's a positive sign, but there's a challenge: Fewer than a third of providers (31%) polled said they had set specific ESG targets.

Setting ESG goals

As with any business effort worth exploring, sustainability programs require specific ESG goals to produce meaningful results. To achieve sustainability goals such as net-zero emissions, organizations first should define a baseline that guides vision and strategy. Then they need to identify goals and define a roadmap for measures such as renewable energy procurement, efficiency programs, and supply chain initiatives. This should be followed by implementation and an effort to monitor progress and track results.

For IT partners, sustainability touches two areas – their own operations and the services they offer. Currently, 44% of partners expect to generate revenue from sustainability solutions. And as customers are increasing the focus of their RFPs on ESG, particularly environmental factors, partners say the ESG strategies of customers are influencing their IT investments.

This is not surprising when you consider that an increasing number of organizations across the globe have set ESG goals for themselves as they embrace the idea of a sustainable future. According to a recent global study, 88% of publicly traded and 67% of privately held firms have launched ESG initiatives.

The Canalys report says ESG strategies are driven by environmental considerations, government regulations, and the need to show ESG efforts to shareholders.

Fueling the drive to sustainability is recognizing that many natural resources are finite, which means new approaches are needed to power IT environments – and modern life as a whole. That's why a primary goal of sustainability is to digitalize industrial operations and switch power grids to renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind, and wave energy conversion (WEC), which turns the motion of ocean waves into electrical power.

Canalys found that 60% of IT solution providers see opportunities in government regulations and in offering take-back programs. Take-back consists of collecting and disposing of products that have reached the end of life. Also, 23% are expecting governmental regulations to have a very significant impact in customer IT solution decisions.

Sustainability help wanted

Despite the interest in sustainability, fewer than half of IT partners (45%) expect to derive revenue from sustainable solutions in the near term. This finding indicates partners may need some help with which offers to carry and how to sell them. Canalys reports that "64% of partners agreed that a vendor's sustainability badge would be valuable for demonstrating ESG credentials to customers."

Canalys has identified three investment priorities for IT solution providers in the next three years:

  • Moving to green energy solutions
  • Recruiting experts on sustainability
  • Switching to a fleet of electric vehicles

With the right help from vendors and a well-defined strategy, IT partners could add revenue streams from sustainability services in the coming years. Schneider Electric is committed to sustainability goals and is ready to help partners define their ESG strategy. Access the Canalys sustainability research findings in the ebook, "How can partners develop sustainability strategies?" to start evolving your sustainability strategy.

Technologies