Tech buying decisions are complex and finely balanced. Commercial considerations of efficiency, productivity and the ultimate impact on bottom line must be balanced with vendor and partner relationships, integration with legacy infrastructure and security.
However, many technology departments and organisations now include sustainability considerations (and often wider ESG criteria) when issuing tenders and also at the earlier stages of building strategy. Is supplier sustainability policy more important than cost? Almost certainly not. But it certainly ranks among purchasing criteria such as functionality, speed of delivery and vendor history, partly due to consumers, investors and other partners making sustainability part of their decision-making process.
The challenge that tech buyers have is that reading ESG reports is quite the undertaking. Microsoft's 2022 report runs to 80 pages, and Amazon's more than 100 if you include separate documents detailing framework, calculations etc. Most vendors provide summary documents and pull out some key statistics on their sustainability websites, but this is the data they want you to see. It is cherry picked to show the vendor in the greenest light possible. Graphics and photographs can be used to suggest that a vendor has made more progress in decarbonising their business than is actually the case. Vendors aren't necessarily guilty of corporate level greenwashing, but the increasing meshing of ESG and marketing can make it difficult to extract the full picture.
To try and help tech decision makers and buyers find a shortcut through the large and hard-to-navigate field of sustainability reporting, Computing has compiled our learnings into a list of ten questions tech buyers can ask prospective suppliers which, whilst not as detailed as our head-to-head analysis and reporting, should provide a genuine and useful measure of sustainability.