IT Brief Australia - Technology news for CIOs & IT decision-makers
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Tech leaders increasingly influenced by environmental impact
Mon, 3rd Apr 2023
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Australian consumers are threatening to abandon businesses that pollute by hoarding unnecessary data, new research from Veritas Technologies has found. 

According to the report, nearly half of Australian consumers said they would stop buying from companies wilfully causing environmental damage by failing to control how much unneeded data they are storing.

The research found almost half of Australian consumers (46%) think it is the responsibility of the organisations that store their information online to delete it when its no longer needed. 

They are also prepared to vote with their feet if businesses don't cut back on data-related pollution. The research found nearly half (41%) said they would stop buying from a company if they knew it was wilfully causing environmental damage by failing to control how much unnecessary or unwanted data it is storing.

The research, which polled 13,000 consumers around the world including Australia, also found that nearly half (40%) said it concerns them that 2% of global energy-related pollution emissions are caused by data centres. In response, three-fifths (57%) of Aussies said they would like to see more focus from local organisations on controlling the negative impact of online data storage on the environment. This could include organisations encouraging their customers to close unused or inactive accounts and guidance on deleting obsolete information they no longer need or want. 

"Beyond the costs of storing data, the hidden costs of its environmental impact should be at the top of every business leaders agenda," says Rags Srinivasan, chief sustainability officer at Veritas Technologies.

"Data centres run 24 hours a day and by 2030 are expected to use as much as 8% of all electricity on the planet. It is easy to forget that data centres are mostly fossil fuel-powered and generate about the same amount of CO2 as the airline industry," he says.

The new research also found that almost half (47%) of consumers globally said it concerns them that online data storage wastes energy and produces environmental pollution when, on average, half of the data enterprises store is redundant, obsolete or trivial (ROT) and another 35% is dark with unknown value, that according to separate Veritas research in which IT decision makers reported the percentages of ROT, dark and business critical data within their organisations. 

Pete Murray, managing director of ANZ at Veritas Technologies, says, "Filtering data that is not needed should become a moral imperative for everyone to reduce the environment impact. 

"Besides the cyber security concerns related to unnecessary data hoarding, many consumers also feel passionately about reducing their carbon footprints," he says. 

"Australian companies should consider the environmental impact of poor data management practices, even if they outsource their data storage to public cloud providers. 

"With half of Australians saying that they would stop buying from companies that fail to address environmental challenges, the risk to businesses of ignoring this issue is too significant to ignore any longer."