15 October 2021

Innovation needed to lead us to carbon neutral digital transformation

By David Dzienciol, Chief Customer and Commercial Officer

Being successful in business isn’t just about reducing costs and growing revenue. Similarly, innovation shouldn’t just be measured by productivity, cost efficiency and customer experience improvements.

In trying times where change is omnipresent, we all want to celebrate innovation that advances humanity and makes the world a better place; now and for future generations. Every business also needs to have a single, noble purpose because increasingly customers, teams, partners and investors all want to work with organisations who strongly advocate for things that matter on a broader scale.

Ultimately, the brand value of businesses boils down to quality but there is also now heightened scrutiny on social responsibility activities that, at face value, don’t have a cost impact on the balance sheet. However, in the big picture these are critical to achieving success and an honourable mission.

Our commitment is to act as a lead change agent, and very easily enable our customers to come along for the ride. This is why we were so proud last week to have our NEXTneutral carbon neutral data centre services acknowledged by Australian Financial Review/Boss Magazine’s Most Innovative Companies (AFR MIC) awards. We scored a Top 10 finish in their assessment of Australia’s most innovative tech companies.

Drawing a line in the digital sand

With COP26 in Glasgow looming as a “last chance saloon” for world powers to lead a charge to preserve the planet, drawing a line in the sand around sustainability is something the data centre industry is going to have to own, foster and invest in.

Sustainable economies are becoming a hot topic in its wake and when you consider that research has affirmed that data centres’ share of global electricity consumption is set to balloon to 20% by 2025, drastic change is needed.

The need for sustainable data centres

Digital transformation cannot and will not stop accelerating because of its inherent value to the way we live, work, trade and drive positive change – but it shouldn’t come at the expense of our natural surroundings.

Organisations of all shapes and sizes are adapting to a digital economy where data is the most precious of commodities and the volume of it – accelerated by cloud, IoT, AI etc – compounds with every innovation cycle.

As computers get bigger, faster and are employed in ever larger numbers to deal with this explosion of data, the amount of energy required to run them increases proportionately. That means data centres need to be as efficient as possible and organisations need to take responsibility for the carbon footprint of their I.T operations.

What comes NEXT?

Sustainability isn’t a line item on someone’s spreadsheet, there’s no one thing that an organisation needs to do to demonstrate they operate sustainably. It’s equally not just about someone’s personal passion or desire to change the world. The upside to operating sustainably has largely been proven.

This is why we devoted ourselves to launching NEXTneutral, an innovation that signifies an important sustainability milestone in this country. In its simplest form, NEXTneutral is a low-cost, zero-complexity solution that enables our customers to offset the CO2 from their IT operations housed in our facilities.

Whilst a not-for-profit program for NEXTDC, NEXTneutral is hugely important because we know how meaningful it is to our customers and to the future of the data centre industry all over the world as we all target carbon neutral economies. It’s a powerful tool that helps our customers take responsibility for their technology carbon footprint, do their bit for the environment, and connect better with what’s important to their customers – without any of the overhead or complexity.

On the innovation and sustainability wagon

NEXTneutral isn’t the start of our sustainability story and it isn’t the sole focus of our innovation agenda. We are so proud of our superstars who bring their brightest ideas and curious minds everyday so we can continue to deliver more reliable and sustainable solutions for customers. But our strong customer response to NEXTneutral since launch is an indication that this kind of service will only accelerate as companies respond to targets set later this month in Glasgow.

NEXTneutral is the next step in our ongoing focus on doing everything we can to minimise the impact technology and digitisation has on future generations. More importantly, it enables our customers to meet their own carbon reduction objectives.

Our focus on sustainability starts with designing, building and operating data centres that set new benchmarks for energy efficiency. It extends to investing in renewables such as wind and solar. And ends by offsetting the carbon emissions that couldn’t be avoided.

We also invest heavily in machine learning while developing frameworks and processes that ensure continual energy efficiency improvement is embedded as operational philosophy. For two years, NEXTDC’s corporate operations have been carbon neutral, complying with Government audited Climate Active requirements for procuring carbon offsets. NEXTneutral now allows us to welcome our ecosystem in and leverage the benefits of our own program – without having to reinvent the wheel themselves.

Partnering with market leaders

Carbon auditing is a complex task that involves strict compliance and reporting cadence that’s beyond most organisations. Which is why partnering strategically is more critical than ever when it comes to organisations meeting their own objectives.

Enabling our customers and partners to join us on this journey is something we feel very strongly about, but we have to do so without any of the complexity or overheads. We’ve simplified the process down to simply ticking a box to offset the carbon, like you would your airline ticket, and paying less than a cup of coffee to achieve it. That in a nutshell is why AFR MIC chose to recognise this innovation.

If we can help you accelerate your digitisation priorities and drive growth, efficiently and sustainably reach out to our team.