Canalys Forums Asia Pacific 2023 Unveils Insights on Sustainability in Business

A recent panel discussion at the Canalys Forum Asia Pacific 2023 shed light on the imperative need for organizations to embed sustainability into their core corporate objectives.
Canalys Forums 2023 on sustainability
The panel comprised esteemed industry experts including Elsa Nightingale, Principle ESG Analyst at Canalys; Manoj Kumar, WW Indirect Sales – HPE GreenLake, Hewlett Packard Enterprise; Patrick Aronson, Chief Marketing Officer and EVP APAC, Westcon-Comstor; Peter Stein, Associate Director Strategy, Product Solutions Group, Datacom; and Wendy Wong, Product Marketing Director, AP Services Sales & Marketing, Solutions and Services Group (SSG), Lenovo.

Some of the topics discussed at the event:

What is vendors next steps in 2024 for supply chain sustainability?

What are partners’ biggest requirements from vendors when it comes to sustainability? How do vendors react to these request?

It costs a lot of money to be sustainable, it is definitely complex and has a lot of uncertainty and doubt. Are customers really prepared to pay more money for it?

Small businesses suffer financially when they want to implement sustainable measures. How can the ecosystem really help us? Can you give an example please?

Sustainability costs money. How can vendors be compliant without adding cost to its products and services?

Norm Jeffries, one of the participants at the event, wanted to know: “Are vendors working on shared standards like EPEAT. It is complex to help organisations make informed decisions to purchase sustainable vendor products.”

Andy Yeo, one of the participants at the event, raised a question: “When tech vendors introduce new technology how does this equal to sustainability? And how refurbish keep up with new technology that supposed to help on sustainability?”

Raghu Chary, one of the participants at the event, opined: “We heard a lot about the AI opportunity this morning. AI is enemy no.1 for sustainability. The smallest AI hardware has 4 times the footprint of non AI hardware. How does the panel feel about these conflicting priorities? How do we grow in and with AI while being sustainable.”

Masuo Narikiyo, one of the participants at the event, raised a question: “Many storage venders, like PureStorage, NetApp and Dell, emphasize their solutions advantage these days, do you think those venders are more sustainable friendly than cloud storage venders like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or Wasabi?”
Canalys Forum 2023 on SustainabilityKey takeaways from the discussion emphasized that while global enterprise customers increasingly prioritize environmental criteria in their requests for proposals (RFPs), only a third of partners have established concrete Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategies. This significant gap signifies the impending need for robust sustainability measures within organizations.

Panelists underscored the far-reaching impact of a holistic sustainability approach, not only in attracting and retaining customers but also in recruiting top-tier talent and securing investor support. The panel stressed the golden opportunity for partners to monetize sustainability initiatives and position themselves as trusted advisors to C-Suite customers on their sustainability journey.

Furthermore, the discussion highlighted the necessity for collaborative efforts among organizations to uncover best practices, set clear sustainability goals, integrate them into strategic planning, and create collaborative opportunities that redefine the future of business.

Despite progress in setting long-term sustainability goals, the 2023 Canalys Channel Sustainability Survey reveals that 45 percent of partners have yet to establish targets. Moreover, on a global scale, efforts to combat climate change are falling short of the objectives outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

However, encouraging trends are emerging. Public companies are increasingly transitioning toward sustainable practices as investors factor in ESG risks, and similar movements are observed in the loan market. Notably, in the IT channel, a significant portion of partners in the EMEA region (37%) tie executive compensation to sustainability Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), signaling a shift towards more incentivized sustainability strategies.

The panelists also raised concerns about the prevalence of greenwashing within IT companies, cautioning against the superficial promotion of sustainability commitments without substantial change. With emerging regulations like the EU’s Green Claims Directive and growing stakeholder skepticism, companies are urged to communicate their sustainability efforts transparently to avoid greenwashing accusations.

Addressing the circular economy, the panel emphasized the IT channel’s progress in supporting circular IT models, with an increasing number of partners offering take-back services. However, challenges persist due to discrepancies in vendor calculation methodologies, hindering accurate tracking of product sustainability data.

Notably, the panel highlighted the value of adopting the as-a-service model to enable circularity, particularly through Device as a Service (DaaS) approaches. This method allows partners to handle the refurbishment and resale of used IT equipment, promoting sustainability by extending the lifespan of devices.

Another critical aspect discussed was the role of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in the sustainability landscape. Larger partners and vendors recognized their responsibility in supporting SMBs, often lacking dedicated resources for driving sustainable change. Leading partners highlighted their role as indirect consultants, aiding both enterprises and SMBs in making sustainable decisions in IT procurement and circularity strategies.

In conclusion, the panel underscored that sustainability must be a priority across all companies, with concerted efforts required to bridge gaps, establish transparent practices, and facilitate a collective move towards a more sustainable future.

Baburajan Kizhakedath @ Canalys Forums 2023 in Bangkok

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