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Can A Data-Heavy World Be Lighter on The Planet?

Marcus Maddox
Global Alliance Manager

May 15, 2024

Data Deluge, Lighter Planet? Exploring Sustainable Storage Solutions

Our planet is facing unprecedented challenges. Extreme weather events are becoming commonplace. Businesses have a critical role to play in addressing these issues, and increasingly, consumers are demanding sustainable practices. This presents new challenges, but also a unique opportunity: not only can responsible data management contribute to a healthier planet, it can also drive business growth. Let’s explore this further.

Extreme weather conditions are increasingly becoming the norm, with February of 2024 being named as the ninth consecutive hottest month on record, and global temperatures during this month surpassing critical climate thresholds. The impact of conditions like these can escalate quickly and become costly in many ways – and if these trends continue, the world will undoubtedly face catastrophic events.

This provides just one example of the ethical obligations pushing businesses to invest in sustainability initiatives to prevent negative global impacts. There are several driving forces behind this shift – firstly, companies are conscious that more than 85% of customers have changed their buying behaviors in the last five years to become more sustainable. For businesses, this means that they are being held accountable for their environmental efforts and as such, any brand ignoring this responsibility will be taken to task.

Organizations are also facing growing pressure from regulators, with many regulations today focused on making data and progress towards sustainability goals standardized and more transparent. One example is the EU’s corporate sustainability reporting directive, which this year asks more than 50,000 new companies to report their sustainability performance with the same level of integrity and security of financial reporting. This change will provide long-term benefits for enterprises, who will no longer need to navigate sustainability data blindly thanks to the promise of enhanced transparency and reliability in ESG data across the board, ultimately resulting in more informed decision-making.

Once again, data has proved itself as a crucial business tool – but many enterprises are struggling with how to navigate data-driven sustainability and successfully measure whether they’re on track with their initiatives.

Read Our Insights Article: Taking Your First Step Toward Achieving and Maintaining Sustainability.

Driving Sustainable Business Practices and Growth with Data

Many challenges around driving sustainability through data come from the simple fact that often, firms don’t have the right data. They also might not trust the data that they do have to properly build sustainability metrics, or to accurately report on the performance of their programs.

Alongside the element of social and environmental responsibility, it’s also important that organizations get this process right as sustainability provides huge opportunities for company growth. The right measures in place can enable opportunities such as the formation of production processes, reconsideration of logistics, optimization of strategies, and implementation of new business models.

This journey is one that we ourselves are on at Hitachi, where we are implementing a green strategy across the business. As part of this strategy, we’re working on our business goal of achieving carbon neutrality in our offices and production plants by 2030, and then across our full value chain by 2050. We're also heavily focused on improving our production processes and design our products with an eternity design mindset, which results in an extended lifecycle of up to ten years. Here, we use methods such as replacing the storage controller so that data does not need to be moved, which reduces the need to move products back to the factory after three to five years – in turn extending the product lifecycle. Read our Sustainability Report for FY2023 to learn how we are Creating a Sustainable Future for All.

The impact of practices like these can be seen in our work with Turkcell, a leading mobile phone operator, was seeking to reduce their data footprint and improve performance. Hitachi's storage solutions enabled Turkcell to slash disk and system count, significantly reducing floor space and power consumption. This led to performance gains, improved response times, and enhanced monitoring capabilities.

Acknowledging the Downside of Data

While on the one hand data plays an essential part in supporting sustainability initiatives, it also has a notable impact on the planet. According to IDC Worldwide, data is expected to hit 175 zettabytes by 2025, representing a 61% CAGR. As a result, Data and Digital Technologies now generate an estimated 3.9% of global carbon emissions, putting it ahead of other industries like aviation or chemicals .

Amongst all these changes, it’s becoming ever more critical for digital leaders to adopt the proper sustainability strategies to help transform our industry. Tackling climate change is no easy task, so it’s important that businesses play their part. There are several key focus areas they should bear in mind in doing so, including eco-friendly data center solutions, sustainable management solutions, and ensuring they select the right sustainability partners.

Building a Sustainable Future Together

There’s a lot to consider, but organizations can – and will, with the right tools – get there.

First, they must build their own industry- or even company-specific metrics aligned with their corporate sustainability strategy. Then, they need to ensure they have the proper framework to collect the right data that can be used for those metrics. And underpinning all this needs to be the right internal culture where organizations clearly communicate their sustainability goals.

It is only through open dialogue and acknowledgement of the work that needs to be done that progress can be facilitated. Ultimately, cross-collaboration across business units and companies alike will play a crucial role in achieving shared sustainability goals that will positively impact our planet.

Hitachi is committed to sustainability throughout our entire value chain. We're not just developing innovative data solutions – we're using them to make a positive impact. By adopting the right strategies and partnering with the right organizations, businesses can harness the power of data to create a more sustainable future.

Visit our solution page to explore how data can lead the way to a sustainable future.

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