Business Sustainability through Green IT
In this blog, we look at a step-by-step process for how cloud transformation can deliver positive change to the entire organization, leading to a win-win of reduced costs, higher operational efficiency and improved sustainability.
January 16, 2023
The first two blogs in this series looked at the urgency of meeting higher levels of sustainability within corporations, then considered the role of cloud in potentially helping to make enterprise IT greener and more efficient. In this final blog, we look at how sustainable cloud transformation can deliver positive change to the entire organization.
In our previous blogs we made it clear that moving to cloud does not automatically make your enterprise greener, just as it does not automatically reduce costs. Cloud creates the opportunity for radical and positive change, but to unlock the potential benefits requires a clear strategic vision, a roadmap that is always monitored and capable of amendment, together with the determination to carry through a major change process.
Cloud gives you the time and space needed to rethink key aspects of your current business, including culture, organisational structures, processes and methods. To build a truly sustainable enterprise is much easier to do in the cloud, but even then it requires expert support, specialised tools and agreed goals.
NTT DATA has developed a structured approach to sustainability excellence through cloud, and this is how it works.
Three stages of change
Moving to cloud requires a three stage adoption path, which connects closely with the path to sustainability.
Stage 1 is Optimization, in which we take the IT environment as it is now and identify every possible area of improvement, from quality of service to cost efficiency and then to risk reduction and security. This first stage delivers initial sustainability benefits through assured compliance and reduced demand for resources and energy as higher levels of operational efficiency are delivered.
Stage 2 is Agility, where we focus on using cloud to improve responsiveness, leading to improved and better targeted service offers, higher levels of resilience and further gains in energy use and resource reuse. At this stage, improved sustainability performance starts to deliver competitive advantage in a way that can be monitored and measured.
Stage 3 is Transformation, in which leaders and decision makers right across the organization are now rethinking the structure of the business. They will now be using platform and composability-based collaboration to develop new service offers, leading to further improvement in user experience and significant value enhancement. At this stage, management will be driving cost out of the business through automation, faster response to market evolution and a re-engineering of working practices and methods. Sustainable gains should now reach the point where it is possible to target decarbonization, in which not only does the business not impact the environment, but may even be able to remove carbon.
By the time we reach the Transformation stage, the enterprise will be acting and thinking like a "digital native" business. That means using IT in the cloud to reduce development cycle time, deliver much better and more targeted customer experiences, while drastically cutting the use of natural resources through enhanced efficiency and reuse. This will change every part of the enterprise for the better, but it is a complex process and managers must be committed and realistic about what it takes to be successful.
The key message we have tried to put across in all three of these blogs is this: moving to cloud does not automatically make you sustainable, but it does make it easier to transform your environmental performance for the better. It creates the context for improvement. So how to build a roadmap that will see all key indicators improving, from costs to operational efficiency to sustainability?
NTT DATA's vision for sustainable growth is all about engagement, measurement and evolution. It starts with:
- Consulting, to help build a practical roadmap, based on the specific needs and current realities of your organization. This is not a formulaic approach, as every business is different and needs a hand-crafted solution.
- System design, which aims to rethink some of the key building blocks of your operations. Sustainable Software Engineering places low carbon performance at the heart of application design; processes will be refined to enhance hardware operations and even reduce the distance data has to travel; while networked cloud will further reduce traffic.
- Platforms, which will enhance collaborative working, reduce duplication and more or less eliminate trial and error. This digital native approach to development and go to market will not only transform the cost base of many businesses but lead to immediate improvements in environmental performance.
All of this forms part of a transformational change to culture within the organisation. That's why we expect to use a great many "low-tech" methods, such as awareness meetings (to align decision makers), experience workshops (to build multi-disciplinary delivery teams), Adoption workshops (to facilitate roll-out) and innovation teams (permanently changing the ways in which ideas are refined and turned into monetizable assets).
This is a pragmatically designed, proven model for engagement that is based on hands-on joint working, enabling issues to be brought up, problems identified and achievable goals to be delivered. Use of dashboards enables stakeholders at every level to monitor progress and also identify upcoming issues that require further debate and decisions.
And finally… We like to be realistic and honest about all transformation activities. When you start any programme that affects organisational structures and culture, it is obvious this will be a significant process of change and will have the potential for cost and disruption. The keys to success are simple and, we believe, entirely logical. They are:
Don't wait to target benefits and deliver better sustainability. You can gain measurable benefits from day one of your cloud transformation. You cannot start this process too early, but make sure your programme is flexible. Costs can be taken out and emissions slashed from the earliest stages, and every benefit you can deliver will make the rest of the programme easier. It reassures those taking part and enables your management to invest in success.
Know where you are starting from. Every organisation is different and unique. Nobody starts from the same level of maturity so invest time in appraising your current status- and make sure this is done with complete honesty. A lot depends on it.
It's a win-win. Going green is necessary to be compliant and to operate as a responsible corporate citizen. But always remember: it is excellent business for you, and that is nothing to be ashamed of. Cutting energy use cuts costs. Cutting emissions improves efficiency. Cutting waste and pollution reduces operational costs. Becoming more sustainable adds value to your brand, products and reputation as a good employer.
Sustainability is the key to long-term success. Let's start now.