CIOs gather to address IT and sustainability

IT

ESG is growing in importance to IT buyers but CIOs are cautioned against investing in tech that fails to deliver on sustainability goals.

The 2023 CIO Summit – themed Forging a Digital Path to Sustainable IT – revealed that CIOs are increasing investment in technologies that help drive ESG performance and business value and highlighted growing trends such as linking executive pay to ESG metrics.

The summit agenda was designed to give CIOs insight and inspiration from experts driving sustainable innovation in their industry. The event highlighted the vital role of IT as an enabler for sustainable transformation and the importance of CIOs actively getting behind business-wide sustainability goals.

Keynote speaker Bjoern Stengel, global sustainability research lead, IDC said: “ESG is becoming a competitive differentiator for businesses as well as for practitioners. From reporting to procurement, we’re seeing sustainable and digital transformation converge. Increasingly, they enable each other, so it’s absolutely critical that CIOs and other IT professionals play a central role in the whole digital and sustainable transformation process.”

The event was hosted by Logicalis CEO, Bob Bailkoski who said: “While everyone is at a different stage of their sustainability journey, no one can do it alone. We’re all dependent on the visibility of our downstream emissions to achieve our carbon reduction goals. We have to work together and partner on this.”

Bjoern Stengel advised the CIO audience: “You need to assess your IT vendors on their ESG enabling capabilities and team up with the right partners that can accelerate your journey, whether that’s IT infrastructure vendors, software firms, services firms, or other partners. There’s a lot of technology out there, but there’s also the risk of overspending or investing in technology that’s just not suited for the very specific ESG challenges that your company is facing. This is a critical responsibility for IT practitioners to help their organization overcome these challenges.”

Other speakers, including Cisco and CIOs from global brands, addressed some of the challenges organisations face, such as quantifying scope 3 emissions and integrating with operational business processes, as well as the opportunities that can come from IT prioritising sustainability.

Denise Lee Yeh, VP sustainability engineering office, Cisco said: “In most organisations, we’re increasingly seeing two workstreams when it comes to sustainability. There’s the regulatory and compliance side, but there’s also the go-to-market workstream, by this I mean sustainability as a source of innovation or competitive advantage. In both cases technology plays a pivotal role, starting with measurement but then as the facilitator for major environmental and business advancement.”

Nigel Townley, CTO, UK Research and Innovation, “The users of our services are becoming more vocal about what they want from us and stakeholders have an expectation that we demonstrate progress against our sustainability strategy. Beyond reporting on sustainability, we’re now playing a more pivotal role in the procurement process so suppliers will need to really demonstrate the environmental value they can deliver. Sustainability is no longer an option, it’s an absolute requirement.”

Logicalis has pledged to become carbon neutral in scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2025. In December 2022, the company announced its commitment to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), through which Logicalis joins the Business Ambition for 1.5 degrees C campaign – the world’s largest group of companies that are actively driving the reduction in global emissions. 

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