How do we drive digital growth while investing in sustainability? A contribution by Adel Al-Saleh, Member of the Board of Management of Deutsche Telekom AG and CEO of T-Systems.
A few weeks ago, a Twitter data center in California had to be shut down. The reason was the persistent heat in the region, which not only pushed people and nature to their limits, but also the technology. More and more, it is becoming clear that sustainability is not only essential for survival, but also critical for business. But how can companies drive digital growth while investing in sustainability?
CO2 is being saved both privately and professionally. According to Gartner, the relevance of sustainability is also increasing for companies: with a 292 percent plus in 2023, it is in the top 10 priorities. In addition to economic developments, there are political regulations - including the EU's European Green Deal - that will require significantly more companies to monitor sustainable actions in reports from 2023 on. After all, the European Union wants to cut CO2 emissions by 55 percent by 2030. Not possible, without firmly anchored sustainability goals.
Digital growth, sustainable business
While the "what" is crystal clear, the "how" is more complex - individual solutions are required. As an IT service provider with sector and industry expertise, we don't just act sustainably ourselves. With our solutions for sustainable digitalization, we also rethink the status quo of our customers. In doing so, we enable them to combine progress and profit while achieving their ecological goals. Two examples:
- Sustainable water management in agriculture: to irrigate fields, farmers rely on wells fed by groundwater. Until now, the amount of water consumed has been recorded by hand. Ground Water Monitoring for Smart Farming shifts water counting to the Internet of Things (IoT) and transmits water data automatically and digitally. This enables, for example, real-time control of meter readings regardless of location and more efficient irrigation of fields.
- Digital ecosystem for more sustainability in the automotive industry: Together with over a hundred partners, we are focusing on standards for digital data exchange as part of Catena-X. This will enable manufacturers and suppliers to oversee their complete value chain. Manufacturers and suppliers can thus seamlessly trace their value chain from raw material supply to vehicle recycling. The transparency shows the complete CO2 footprint - allowing the right adjustments to be made in order to achieve CO2 neutrality.
Rethink the system
We have also set ourselves the goal of achieving net zero by 2025 for our own emissions and by 2040 along the entire value chain. To achieve this, we are, among other things, converting our entire business vehicle fleet worldwide to electric cars, focusing on green IT and recycling, and working on projects and services for greater sustainability.
And there's another starting point, which takes us back to the beginning. Perhaps you have also thought it: Data centers and Sustainability doesn’t go very well together. Data processing, storage and exchange, information technology generates high power consumption. Therefore, it's crucial to invest in sustainability in this area. We already have done some progress consolidating our data center landscape by over 60 percent in the last 10 years. The electricity for our own data centers comes to 100 percent from renewable energy sources, and we are looking at investments in in-house production and solar and wind energy opportunities. In Munich, we optimized our well water cooling using artificial intelligence. Another example that shows how digitalization supports climate protection.
Digitalization, sustainability and growth are only harmonious if we think about digital transformation in a holistically sustainable way. Our biggest task is to provide you with the solutions that let you grow digitally in order to do business sustainably. It's time: Let's rethink the system together and walk the path to net zero collectively.