Digital Transformation is Making the World More Sustainable

Choosing the right digital supply chain partner is key to success

Jennifer Ruch

Digital transformation is reshaping every industry across the globe. According to the World Economic Forum, by 2022, over 60% of global GDP will be digitized and an estimated 70% of new value created over the next decade will be based on digitally enabled platforms.[i] At the same time, our planet is facing critical challenges such as climate change, natural disasters and other environmental risks. These risks, along with increasing pressures on the world’s resources, are driving sustainability mainstream.

Customers and partners want to purchase solutions from companies that can demonstrate sustainable operations and help them “green” their own supply chains. Investors and financial indices are shifting investments toward companies with higher Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) ratings, and those organizations are outperforming their peers. And when it comes to recruiting and retaining a high performing workforce, sustainable businesses are having an easier time because people want to work for companies who are creating positive social and environmental value.

These trends have evolved so quickly in the last decade that it’s no surprise that 86% of Fortune 500 companies published sustainability reports in 2018, compared to 20% less than ten years ago.[ii] And, as the twin forces of digital transformation and sustainability continue to accelerate, businesses will look to partner with industry leaders who are championing sustainability innovation and corporate responsibility.

See How Equinix Connects with Purpose

Equinix is proud to approach our sustainability efforts in the same agile way we solve our customers’ business challenges and are committed to a path of long-term sustainable growth

Read More
green-sustainability
70%

of new value created over the next decade will be based on digitally enabled platforms.

How digital technologies advance sustainability

As the pressure for greater environmental responsibility mounts, digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), the internet of things (IoT), and cloud computing are helping organizations achieve sustainability goals in a number of ways. Some examples include:

  • AI with contextual awareness is interconnecting smart cities, improving disaster response, reducing air pollution, conserving natural resources and critical species, making renewable energy more affordable, and helping to make buildings greener/more efficient.[iii]
  • Analytics and ML models are advancing precision agriculture/irrigation and automating processes with environmental impact, such as methane leak detection or renewable energy forecasts for solar and wind power.[iv]
  • Robotics and Iot ecosystems are helping manufacturers unlock value from recycling by automating e-waste sorting.

Equinix predicts that digital and technology innovations like these will provide businesses with the opportunity to overcome barriers such as the geographic dispersion of supply chains to the complexity of product materials. IoT sensors, machine-to-machine (M2M)/data analytics in the cloud and digital ecosystems will enable companies to automate the supply of assets and products based on demand, ensure supply chain resiliency and stay ahead of rapidly changing environmental regulations.[v] As a case in point, just last year Europe announced the European Green New Deal which aims for the region to be climate-neutral by 2050 and three European countries (Sweden, France and the UK) have already set the target into law.[vi]

Equinix 2020 Prediction: Digital Transformation is making the world more sustainable.

Choosing the right data center partner

Whether a business is looking to stay ahead of regulations, extend sustainability across its operations or supply chain, raise the bar on environmental responsibility, or address climate change and resiliency as a core strategy, choosing the right partner is key. And, with 70% of new value over the next decade coming from digitally enabled platforms,i long-term success will depend on vendor-neutral colocation data center providers like Equinix who are committed to growing sustainably.

Here are some questions to consider when selecting a data center partner:

  1. Do they have a sustainability program and is it aligned with our goals?
  2. How could they help us achieve (and even advance) our sustainability goals?
  3. Do they publish an annual sustainability report?
  4. What reporting frameworks do they use and does it align with our reporting frameworks?
  5. What is their track record and how transparent are they?
  6. In what ways are they leading the industry in advancing sustainability?
  7. What innovations or actions are they pursuing to further sustainable growth internally or externally?

 

86%

of Fortune 500 companies published sustainability reports in 2018.

Why Equinix is a sustainable partner

Equinix is committed to protecting, connecting and powering a more sustainable digital world. We were the first company in our industry to publicly commit to a long-term goal of 100% clean and renewable power five years ago, and we achieved 90% of that goal last year, as well as 100% in the U.S. We were also the first data center company to transparently measure and report our environmental footprint, including our global energy usage and carbon emissions.

As one of the largest data center companies, our global reach, scale and buying power enables us to drive positive environmental impact and move the needle on renewable and clean energy faster and more efficiently than our customers could on their own. Our scale also enables us to deploy cutting edge innovations in our data centers that benefit all our customers, such as machine learning to identify new energy efficiencies.

By pioneering green data center innovations and building/operating the most resilient and energy-efficient data centers in the world, we are helping to protect worldwide energy resources and direct address key business pressures like climate change. And, looking ahead to our collective future, we are partnering with like-minded companies to drive a low-carbon energy future while greening supply chains worldwide.

Learn more about how Equinix is championing environmental innovation and responsibility in our interactive sustainability report.

You may also be interested in reading our previous Earth Day and sustainability blog posts.

 

[i]World Economic Forum, Shaping the Future of Digital Economy and New Value Creation.

[ii]Governance & Accountability Institute, FLASH REPORT: 86% of S&P 500 Index® Companies Publish Sustainability / Responsibility Reports in 2018, May 2019.

[iii]Greentech Media, Artificial Intelligence Pushes ‘Commoditized’ Wind and Solar Power Into the Money, Aug 2019.

[iv]IBM, Protecting the environment: How cognitive technology is helping sustain the natural world.

[v]CXO Communication, 5 Reasons Why Sustainability Can Make or Break Your Brand, 2019.

[vi]European Commission, A European Green Deal; 2050 long-term strategy; What is carbon neutrality and how can it be achieved by 2050?, Dec 2019.

Jennifer Ruch
Jennifer Ruch Director, Sustainability & ESG at Equinix Director, Sustainability & ESG