Sustainable channel ecosystems: how partners can meet customer expectations

Sustainable channel ecosystems: how partners can meet customer expectations

Sustainability continues to rise up the corporate agenda, but resellers can help to meet customer expectations by working with vendors, says Dale Smith, channel director EMEA and CALA at Juniper Networks.

Sustainability continues to be a significant agenda point for organisations worldwide, alongside the rapid advance of digital transformation. Organisations have become fully reliant on efficient IT systems and networks for the completion of daily tasks, with the industrial automation services market forecasted to reach a size of
$264.69 billion by 2026.

In the IT industry, effective sustainability practices have gone from being a ‘nice to have’ to a critical priority. ESG government targets, brand reputation and employee satisfaction are making organisations increasingly conscious of the carbon footprint products and services can leave behind. Sustainability efforts should be focused on sensible priorities, such as decarbonisation, sustainable technology and circularity. 

There is now an increased drive to design and operate in-life equipment as efficiently as possible to reduce energy consumption and slow the pace of producing e-waste by extending the timeframe that companies rip-and-replace infrastructure. The more society relies on the network and IT, the more power it will require in the years ahead. Some industry forecasts even show IT power usage tripling by 2030. 

With the overriding prevalence of technology, and to meet the sustainability agenda, partners should align with vendors that are focused on meaningful sustainability goals, becoming part of a sustainable channel ecosystem to reduce wastage and energy consumption, while also helping customers to do the same.

In a Corporate Social Responsibility Report, Juniper Networks revealed its commitment to fulfil vendor responsibilities when it comes to areas such as sustainability. Juniper is showing its commitment to being ‘Green to the Core’, with recognition from Ethisphere, which named Juniper as one of its 2023 World’s Most Ethical Companies. Through these channels, Juniper is showing the vision and know-how to empower change. Partners must look to vendors that can prove they are working toward and reaching sustainability targets. Partners can work closely with their portfolio vendors to enhance their own sustainability objectives, taking advice from vendors who are successful in doing so. 

In order to foster fruitful relationships within the channel ecosystem and with customers, partners must find a way to continue the development of digital transformation in a way that aligns with the target of excellence in sustainability and which appeals to customers. To achieve this, high environmental standards are being promoted and filtered throughout the IT industry in various ways.

Upholding regulation

In Europe, regulations are beginning to come into play, which require organisations to demonstrate and uphold due diligence across their business lines and value chains. This involves giving more detail in sustainability reports on environmental matters such as climate change and how they impact the organisation. 

It can be daunting for businesses to align with various regulations. However, organisations like The Science Based Targets initiative drive ambitious climate action in the private sector by enabling organisations to set science-based emissions reduction targets. Science-based targets provide a clearly defined pathway for companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, helping prevent the worst impacts of climate change and future-proof business growth.

Targets are considered ‘science-based’ if they are in line with what the latest climate science deems necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement – limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

In a sustainable channel ecosystem, partners should consider the types of products and solutions they invest in with these standards in mind. Vendors with IT products and solutions that demonstrate good environmental design and operations are more desirable for partners in terms of meeting their own sustainability goals, and helping their customers reach theirs. If partners work with vendors that are aligned on their sustainability mission, creating science-based targets to reach aligned goals, this can lead to more effective partnerships and more open, transparent ecosystems that are better built for the future and are working toward the greater good.

Reducing unnecessary equipment

Increasingly, digital processes and operations are casting a spotlight on equipment that may no longer serve an organisation’s needs. Automation for workflows and daily tasks, as well as devices connected through the internet, are making certain types of equipment less crucial.

In recent years, the World Economic Forum found e-waste to be the fastest-growing waste stream in the world. As up to 90% of decommissioned enterprise IT equipment is believed to be re-purposable, finding an alternative use for otherwise unnecessary kit can also play a key role in promoting sustainability. Demonstrating commitments to reducing waste, at a time when organisations are being increasingly pressured to do so, will help partners meet customer expectations. 

If partners can facilitate repurposing e-waste for customers, it helps customers on their sustainability journey and takes the complexity out of reducing waste when upgrading their IT infrastructure. For example, the Juniper Certified Pre-Owned program has helped more than 1,000 Juniper customers avoid 3,629 metric tons of CO₂ emissions and prevent 66 tons of e-waste from going to landfill to date. Partners should reach out to their vendors to join a recycling program or facilitate their own to support customers’ sustainability journey. 

In addition, offering a trial for products and services before ensuring customers fully commit is a great way to ensure that the solutions work well for the customer, meaning they will not swap out services and contribute to more e-waste. Similarly, Juniper offers a ‘Try and Buy’ scheme to customers with this aim in mind, offering a 60-day risk-free trial, which ultimately reduces e-waste as the customer can return network solutions hassle-free. 

Reducing carbon footprint 

A key challenge facing customers is balancing digital transformation with sustainability efforts, raising both while not derailing either. Though digitalisation brings many benefits for organisations, a digitally enabled world is consuming more power. Partners must consider this when assessing their product offering and how these products are delivered throughout the channel. 

Green initiatives prioritise technology with above-average environmental credentials, and that can be disposed of or recycled with less negative global impact. This type of technology will have an energy-efficient product design, maximised power and space consumption for customers and sustainable packaging to reduce emissions. Offering products from vendors that adhere to these standards will not only be desirable to environmentally conscious customers but will help partners stand out in an increasingly competitive market.  

Aligning sustainability ethos

Within the channel ecosystem, partners and vendors have a shared future direction. Ensuring this can be achieved involves investing in each other, strengthening partnerships and collaborating effectively. Due to big environmental targets set by governments and evolving consumer expectations, partners should be increasingly mindful of the vendors they work with, and subsequently, whether their policies and products align with their own ethos. At Juniper, we believe businesses should take sustainability targets and CSR actions seriously, as a shared global responsibility and as a wise investment in a long-term, sustainable business future.

Partners should opt for products and solutions that are inherently sustainable from the development stage. This includes long-lasting technology that is energy efficient through design, intelligently built to easily scale, adapt and update, and which will aid and sustain further organisational change.