Gartner Digital Workplace Summit 2024 Unveils the Future of Sustainable IT

Gartner Digital Workplace Summit 2024

The Gartner Digital Workplace Summit 2024 recently wrapped up in London, gathering over 850 attendees and 50 exhibitors from leading technology companies. This year’s summit was a hub for enterprise innovators, IT leaders, and digital transformation enthusiasts, offering a deep dive into topics critical to shaping the future of the digital workplace. Here’s a roundup of the key sustainable IT outputs from this summit.

Autumn Stanish Advocates for Sustainable IT Practices at The Digital Workplace Leaders Guide to Sustainable Technology’ Keynote

The keynote presentation, “`The Digital Workplace Leader’s Guide to Sustainable Technology” delivered by Autumn Stanish, Director Analyst at Gartner and Author of the CIO Guide to Net Zero, was particularly impactful. Stanish highlighted the importance of using tools like Nexthink & Reverbed to identify devices suitable for performance-based refreshes. This approach extends device lifecycles, saves money, and crucially helps avoid e-waste.

She passionately argued against recycling as a primary solution, stating, “Recycling is the least preferred method that we have. What we want is reuse, repair, and remanufacturing. Only then can we get more sustainable.” Stanish also noted that ITAD providers are now advising customers on which devices can be reused and which should be recycled based on their repairability.

She urged companies to help their employees opt into more sustainable solutions, revealing that “over 80% of employees said they would take a used device over a new one.”

Talking about vendors that can help enable CIOs with their sustainable IT strategy across different themes of energy, e-waste, and employee engagement, Stanish mentioned, “…some speciality providers coming in, one kind of cool one is Circular Computing, doing a lot about trying to get not only the end of life thought about but how to make devices really strong to bring them back into the circular economy, breaking down that stigma against reused devices that we have always had, so some really great innovation happening…”

The presentation elaborated on the current state and gaps in workplace sustainability:

1. Energy Efficiency:

Current State: Use of eco-labels, reliance on product carbon footprints report, point-in-time modelling, and periodic data collection.

Gaps: Real-time performance, insights dashboard, and autonomous management.

2. E-waste:

Current State: No waste mitigation process at the forefront, recycling as an umbrella term, reliance on ITAD reports.

Gaps: Consumption-based life cycles, disposal hierarchy, end-to-end visibility.

3. Employee Engagement:

Current State: Employee awareness events, recycling days, and no individual recognition for sustainable behaviours.

Gaps: Recurring nudges, learning bites, and gamification.

Recommendations:

  • Use your emissions baseline to prioritise investment in sustainable technology.
  • Estimate the ROI in terms of both cost savings through efficiencies as well as emissions and waste reduction.
  • Leverage employee gamification tools and techniques to drive a sustainable culture in IT.

Action Plan for Digital Workplace Leaders:

Immediate: Engage existing suppliers to identify any sustainable technology solutions they offer that can be taken advantage of today.

Next 90 Days: Use the data and insights provided by these solutions to make a strategic plan for improving overall digital workplace sustainable performance beyond the quick wins.

Next 12 Months: Continuously reengage vendors about improvement efforts for data quality.

Stanish’s address was a call for embracing sustainable IT practices, reinforcing the pivotal role of companies like Circular Computing in driving the shift towards a circular economy.

Sustainable Workplaces Study of Circa 30 Million Devices

The session “Sustainable Workplaces: 5 Key Takeaways from the Largest Usage Study” was a collaborative presentation by ATOS, National Grid, Tier1 and Nexthink on their main takeaways from this usage study. Highlights include:

David Welling, Head of IT Sustainability at National Grid, set the tone by emphasising the strategic implications of the study’s data. He noted, “One of the key things we are looking at is to use the data from this study to drive some specific changes in strategic behaviour. For example, 76% of all the devices in that study can be remanufactured by a remanufacturer like Circular Computing. So, rather than looking at a 3, 4, or 5-year lifespan, we’re looking to flip that on its head and say, why don’t we have a primary life, remanufacture or refurbish, and have a secondary life. We are looking at an 8, 9, 10-year lifecycle investment, which has significant cost savings and massive environmental reduction impacts. It’s not reinventing the wheel; it’s doing what we should have always done. If we were to waste an asset that cost that much in any other area, we would be viewed as a wasteful industry.”

Welling continued: “We are doing a proof of concept at the moment with Circular Computing to compare their remanufactured devices with new devices. What we are really focusing on is the user experience because most people just want to come in, do their job effectively, and they want to have a good workplace experience. We are using the DEX scoring from Nexthink to peer compare a remanufactured device with a brand-new one, and what we are finding is that they are pretty much the same. In fact, in some areas, Circular Computing is leading, and there is not really any justification to keep buying new; it’s a real waste of money.”

Ines Settler, Global MSP Account Manager at Nexthink highlighted employee sentiment: “One of the key findings we wanted to share was that 75% of employees would be happy to keep their device for more than a year compared to what was in the original refresh plan.”

Sebastien Vibert, Head of Sustainable Workplace at Atos, summarised the discussion by highlighting the wastefulness prevalent in the IT industry: “If you have a car, you wouldn’t keep it running all night just to have it warm in the morning. We accept second-hand cars as normal, so why is there so much negativity attached to buying a second-user laptop?” By drawing these comparisons, Vibert urged the audience to reconsider their choices, advocating for a shift towards more sustainable practices.

Conclusion

The Gartner Digital Workplace Summit 2024 offered invaluable insights and actionable strategies for digital workplace leaders. From AI applications and employee experience to sustainable practices, the summit highlighted the critical areas where organisations must focus to remain competitive and responsible in the digital age. By leveraging these insights, CIOs and IT leaders can drive meaningful change in their organisations, fostering a more sustainable and efficient digital workplace.

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