Five ways IT can help heal the planet

IT can play a critical role in driving sustainability for their organizations — and beyond. Cisco can help.
Five ways IT can help heal the planet

Our planet is in trouble. And we all need to help get it right.

That includes IT. Especially IT.

From energy to e-waste (and more), IT leaders can play a critical role. Because in a hyper-digitized world, their decisions impact everyone.

That’s why Cisco is empowering IT with technologies that are more efficient, observable, circular — and thanks to AI — smarter. Because supporting organizations’ sustainability targets may prove to be IT’s most important mission yet.

“Cisco’s own goals for sustainability are among the highest in any industry,” said Mary de Wysocki, Cisco’s chief sustainability officer. “But given the vast, global scope of our customers and partners, our biggest impact is in helping other organizations reach their goals. Supporting IT teams around the world with great technology is critical to that effort. Because the stakes for our planet are high. And we all need to work together.”

Here are five ways IT teams can help organizations improve their sustainability — and some Cisco solutions to help them do it.

Smarten your buildings. Building operations account for a whopping 26 percent of energy-related emissions globally. So, lessening those demands is essential. With solutions like Power Over Ethernet (PoE), Cisco — and IT — can play a major role. By consolidating electric power and data networks, PoE prevents the energy loss from converting lighting, environmental systems, cameras, and other DC-powered devices to AC power. PoE is also great for optimizing renewable energy sources like solar panels, which can send DC power directly into the network, with minimal energy loss. And by deploying lower-voltage POE, IT can consolidate power and data networks, while also eliminating substantial quantities of heavy steel and copper wiring, along with their embodied carbon.

At the same time, Cisco enables the network to become an Internet of Things super sensor. Especially when combined with AI, it can constantly monitor and optimize energy usage, temperature, lighting, air quality, and other factors. All of which can empower IT to transform even older buildings into great spaces for workers — and the planet.

Modernize your data center. Data centers are notoriously power hungry, often representing 10 to 50 times the energy per floor space of a typical office building. By modernizing their data centers, IT leaders can go a long way towards supporting their organizations’ sustainability goals. For example, along with supporting growth, security, and performance, Cisco’s UCS-X Series is 54 percent more energy efficient at the processing (CPU) level than previous generations. Of course, traditional data centers also generate heat, so the cooling efficiency of the UCS-X series can lower OPEX, improve equipment longevity, and enhance system performance.

Observe your impact. In order to optimize your network, data center, and other assets, you need real-time observability into their functions. So, a Cisco network upgrade includes solutions like Nexus Dashboard and Cisco Intersight, which add acute visibility into energy consumption across networks and devices. And Cisco’s Control Hub, which monitors and optimizes applications like Webex, includes a feature called Carbon Emissions that empowers IT with real-time insights on energy demands. AI is making all these features that much more intuitive, predictive, and automated. And the trend will only accelerate with Cisco’s acquisition of Splunk, whose cutting-edge analytics will supercharge Cisco AI.

Get circular. Today, the volume of e-waste cluttering landfills and leaching dangerous chemicals is rising five times faster than documented e-waste recycling. So, it’s imperative that IT leaders embrace circular economy principles around product use, reuse, and recycling. Cisco makes it easy. The company facilitates product returns for end-of-use gear at no cost. And it reuses or recycles more than 99 percent of returned equipment. Much of that returned product is remanufactured and sold through Cisco Refresh, which for more than 20 years has offered fully refurbished Cisco products at competitive pricing.

Galvanize your goals. In recent years, the private sector has upped its commitment to sustainability as never before. And beyond helping the planet, many organizations know that the efficiency, power savings, and other advantages that come with sustainable practices make smart business sense. But according to an IDC study, while 63 percent of companies view sustainability as a business priority, only 37 percent have formulated clear targets and goals. Again, Cisco — particularly its Customer Experience (CX) group — can help. The Cisco CX Sustainability Priority Assessment Service sets goals tailored to each organization’s unique needs and capabilities — along with the concrete strategies to reach them. This includes designing a sustainability transformation roadmap; identifying key initiatives, risks, and dependencies; mapping priorities and relevant use cases for IT; and defining what a potential, more sustainable future state would look like, and what relevant capabilities and technologies would enable it.

IT has come a long way from its days as a back-office “department of no.” Today IT supports growth, innovation, and employee satisfaction. And with a bit of help from Cisco, IT can go even further — by supporting a healthier future for us all.