Shaun Lynn, CEO of Agilitas

The channel’s sustainability roadmap: what’s next?

Shaun Lynn, CEO of Agilitas explores the current sustainability trends taking the Channel by storm

In the IT Channel, sustainability is no longer something to aspire to. It is an absolute necessity for the future of our planet. This past year has brought the issue of harmful energy consumption and its effects into sharp focus for both better and worse.

While global reductions in travel and tourism paved the way for reduced pollution and the recovery of natural life, the mass production of single use plastic products during the pandemic has led to more waste and potential for a harsh environmental impact. That said, there is hope for building a more sustainable future, and for the Channel, much of this work has already begun.

Fuelled by the Government’s targets to make the UK a net zero nation by 2050, many Channel businesses have spurred into action and committed more resources to sustainability than ever before. From internal people projects to wide scale technology-led initiatives, there has been a significant mindset shift towards greater efficiency and less waste throughout the IT Channel ecosystem.

Recent research found that almost one third of channel partners are confident in mobilising a workable sustainability strategy within 6 months to a year. While this is encouraging, there is still so much more to be done. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the essential steps in the sector’s sustainability roadmap.

According to some estimates, the carbon footprint of our devices, the Internet and the systems supporting them account for about 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions. With the European IT Channel predicted to get close to €100 billion revenue in 2021 through increased demand for IT hardware and services, we must find better ways to extend the life cycle of hardware, to minimise waste, reduce environmental impact and maximise resources. This is where the circular economy comes into its own.

Initiatives that convert inefficient, redundant stock which is often single-use into reusable technology spares inventory – either as complete systems or their associated component parts – will be crucial on the road to a more eco-friendly IT Channel sector.

Sustainability should be firmly ingrained across inventory management supply chains in order to truly support the circular economy. Wherever possible, partners should look to embrace a ‘repair, rework and reuse’ model to reduce carbon footprint and cost. Through this approach, partners can effectively extend the life of hardware beyond the typical manufacturer lifespan, whilst ensuring the necessary quality standards and warranties for peace of mind when delivering a first-class customer experience.

Vendors in the Channel and beyond are going to be under increased pressure from Government policy and customers to reduce their carbon footprint. If they need to extend the life of their products and embrace a product refresh cycle, businesses will need to work alongside their partners to find ways to match service with sustainability to ultimately retain the customer through these longer periods. This is no easy feat and will require close collaboration across the ecosystem in order to make true change.

We can anticipate new, eco-focused partnerships with strategic partners who are dedicated to supporting this mission for a circular economy. In essence, it is now about working smarter together and partnerships will have an important role to play in order to significantly accelerate decarbonisation and work as one towards the nation’s crucial net zero targets.

Not only are channel partners concerned with extending the lifespan of IT hardware, there is also a significant shift towards intelligent technologies that have the power to maximise resources and drive energy efficiency across the supply chain.

In an effort to achieve more with less, many initiatives that remove friction, waste and laborious tasks have been fast-tracked. Channel partners must utilise technologies that can alleviate previously energy-intensive processes and replace them with automated, real-time alternatives to optimise supply chains and alleviate the strain on resources.

As technology and people continue to converge, automation will be an undisputed cornerstone of any efforts to achieve greater energy efficiency and build more productive workforces across a fast-growing IT Channel for years to come.

While many channel partners are already taking avid steps to make their business more eco-friendly, maximum sustainability across the whole sector cannot be achieved in silos. To truly do things differently, partners must work closer together to drive innovation through sharing ideas, tools and tactics that will build a better future. It’s only the beginning.

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