Liam O’Brien
27th January 2020

It’s much easier being green

This is a blog about climate change. I don’t want to break from my usual, jolly tone too much, so don’t worry – I’m not going to ram the science down your throat that you already know about. What I want to talk about is how IT resellers can start making a difference, and improve their sales at the same time.

Sound too good to be true? I don’t think so. It’s not impossible to do what’s right for your customers, your bottom line, and your environmental impact at the same time. The fact is, businesses need to do their bit to reduce emissions and cut down waste as much as anyone else – and technology can help us to do that.

Increasingly, public pressure surrounding the climate crisis is leading companies to put social and environmental action into their strategic plans. It’s a board-level discussion at many businesses, which likely includes your customers and sales prospects.

So, if you’re able to offer solutions to your customers which make them more energy efficient, help them develop a greener supply chain, and reduce their carbon footprint, it is a win-win scenario.

More digital trials, fewer paper trails

It’s not hard to see why businesses are setting green targets – efficiency often goes hand in hand with cost savings. Digitising paperwork, for example, can save a hell of a lot of paper. Think about the amount of bureaucracy in finance, legal, shipping and logistics, public sector, and so on, which is still done manually. I recently heard about one print company which produces more than eight billion sheets of paper every year, just for the financial services industry.

Getting that paperwork online is a huge win for employees, for the procurement team, and for the planet. It’s not difficult to transfer those processes to online forms and information portals, especially in Dynamics 365. All the extra benefits of digitising records (searchability, security, instant global access, disaster recovery) are secondary to the massive cost savings on print and supply purchasing.

Equally, I heard from a manufacturing company recently who were using AI and Azure to weigh and redistribute plastic offcuts from their supply chain. That’s less wasted material and bigger savings. I’m sure there are hundreds of other use cases in all industries.

Stockholm savers

In another example, data analytics can help improve a company’s energy efficiency. Microsoft piloted a scheme last year in Sweden, using analytics from Dynamics and Azure, to measure energy usage in finer detail. Where previously it had been gauged on an annual basis, now companies could measure their usage by the hour. For large companies with lots of buildings, this could cut tonnes of carbon emissions from their annual footprint – as well as the associated cost.

That’s a forward-thinking case study – but there is plenty of relevant stuff you may already be doing for clients. Think about using e-conferencing and flexible working to cut down on business travel, or reducing the need for physical infrastructure through e-commerce. These are good examples of the incremental opportunities out there. If you can identify areas where clients are wasting money and causing unnecessary emissions, then offer solutions to plug the gaps, it’s a straightforward sale.

🎵 Chain, chain, chain… chain of fuels 🎵

Let’s not forget that your carbon footprint doesn’t just include direct emissions – it also includes your supply chain. Businesses are looking more and more for suppliers who can prove their environmental creds. So if someone asks you what you’re doing to be greener, do you have the answers ready?

One of the good things about reselling Microsoft solutions is that they are very ambitious with their environmental pledges – which makes it easier to justify them as a more ethical option. For example, they are investing in sustainable datacentres for cloud services. Overall, they have been carbon neutral since 2012, and already this year they’ve announced a plan to be carbon negative by 2030. By comparison, Amazon are only aiming to become carbon neutral by 2040. Not bad.

To wrap things up…

I think we need to talk about environmental impact as authentically as possible – we should be trying to do the right thing first, and hopefully profits are a secondary benefit. This would be really cynical blog otherwise. But I genuinely think we can achieve both of those things, hand in hand, with the right thinking and solutions.

That means easier sales conversations for you. It means cost savings for your clients. But most importantly of all, it means a positive change for the environment.

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