by Christine Horton
As consumers we are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of the choices that we make – especially when it comes to choosing the goods and services we use.
Businesses too are starting to adapt their purchasing behaviour to take issues like sustainability into account. In fact, a growing number of organisations now say the environmental impact of their purchasing decisions is as important as traditional considerations such as pricing – something that was unheard of a few years ago.
There are several reasons for this. Organisations in many cases will be looking to get ahead of legislation introduced to try to stem the effects of climate change. For example, in 2019 the UK set a net zero carbon emissions target by 2050, in line with its commitment under the Paris Agreement. For others, it is a case of reputation and pressures from customers, investors, and employees.
The changing demographic of tech buyers also can’t be ignored. A 2019 report from Forbes notes that 62 percent of Generation Z, who will begin entering the workforce in 2021, prefer to buy from sustainable brands, on par with its findings for Millennials. Further, the majority of Generation Z (54 percent) said they are willing to spend an incremental 10 percent or more on sustainable products, with 50 percent of Millennials saying the same.
We’ve previously talked about how the events of 2020 inadvertently caused a surge in demand for circular – or refurbed – devices. But these tech decision makers are increasingly taking issues like sustainability into account, with many investing in the idea of the circular economy.
Sustainability as a business priority
The shift is confirmed by IDC, which surveyed 700 IT buyers and executives across Europe as part of its practice, European Technology for Sustainability and Social Impact. It found that six out of 10 European businesses cited sustainability as a very or extremely important business priority.
Importantly for the channel – those selling technology to customers – sustainability is increasingly becoming a competitive differentiator. Close to 60 percent of organisations in Europe are now including sustainability objectives into RFPs.
Moreover, 41 percent of companies are seeking assistance from their IT services partners to incorporate sustainability targets into products, services and solutions they deliver. Sixty percent see them as playing a critical role in helping them achieve their sustainability goals.
And despite COVID-19, commitments to their company’s ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) strategies remain high on the agenda for the supply chain. One recent survey shows that despite a fifth of supply chain executives reporting loss of sales and supply chain disruption, 45.2 percent said their environmental sustainability plans would remain on track, while a further 26.9 percent said they were more likely to invest and implement further green initiatives.
But what does this mean for channel partners? The good news is that sustainability sells.
Last week HP introduced a sustainable impact programme for partners “to extend impact on climate change, human rights and digital divide.” Crucially for partners, HP’s annual Sustainable Impact Report shows that a commitment to sustainability isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also good for business. In 2020, HP won more than $1 billion in new sales where sustainability criteria were a known consideration in the deal.
For some partners, taking sustainability into account when responding to an RFP may seem daunting. But HP won’t be the only manufacturer pushing sustainability into its partner ecosystem – we already know vendors that write ‘green’ targets into partner agreements.
Given how much of a role sustainability is now playing in tech purchasing, those selling IT need to not only ensure it is a part of their own business, but they need to adapt their conversations with customers to reflect the shift.