The goal of creating a sustainable organization is a key priority of senior executives across the country, as more and more companies commit to achieving Net-Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, says the chief technology officer for Cisco Canada.
Rob Barton was responding to a theme that is expected to be prevalent in the 2023 federal budget, which will be tabled later today – namely, how best to not only aim for certain goals regarding the environment, but achieve them.
In fact, one of Cisco’s key predictions for 2023 is that responsible innovation will move quickly toward building a better, more inclusive future for all.
Organizations, it said late last year, “are expected to put their good intentions into action – being purpose-driven is now a corporate requirement. Trust in our institutions and in companies has been tested over the last few years.
“This has brought us to an inflection point, and we are on the edge of generational change that will become evident through technology in 2023. Ultimately, organizations will have to define a purpose that goes beyond profitability.”
According to a document outlining the predictions, Net-Zero will drive common standards to meet sustainability goals, with advancements in Power Over Ethernet (PoE) design and hardware to transform data centres for a more sustainable future.
“Networking and APIs will become more advanced within data center platform management, to monitor, track, and change the use of energy. IT vendors and equipment partners will be more transparent in their reuse of hardware (circularity) to move the needle with the sustainability processes,” it said. “Ultimately organizations will have to define a purpose that goes beyond profitability. While there have arguably been benefactors of the collapse of trust, the new scope of innovation is bending fast toward public good – with responsibility, sustainability, equity, and inclusion as guiding themes.”
Barton said that the Paris 2050 Agreement, which most countries in the world have signed on to, represents a “massive undertaking that requires a massive fundamental rethink of almost everything.”
His advice to any organization embarking on a Net-Zero initiative in order to achieve sustainability goals, is to certainly be cognizant of the threat of security lapses as more and more systems are connected.
In order to make a building more efficient, said Barton, “the systems have been tied together, from the heating, ventilation, the electrical systems, and we’re tying them very closely to the IT system.
“One of the initiatives that we’ve been working on is how do we track live occupancy in the building through Wi-Fi, to automatically control the airflow into different spaces. We can achieve tremendous reduction in energy consumption just by creating middleware between the HVAC system, the Wi-Fi system, but now I’ve just connected the operational system of a building with an IT system in some way. A threat actor could now have a vector into the operations of a building.”
He added that what it means is that organizations doing “something good for the environment,” also need to think differently about security strategies.
That need for more security innovations, Cisco pointed out, is because the attack surface is widening at an accelerating pace: “In the billion-dollar race to protect, detect and respond to an expanding attack surface, we will see risk management melding with business innovation capabilities.”
Innovation, said Barton, is key, and an example of that occurred earlier this year with the launch of Carbon Emissions Insights in Webex Control Hub, announced at Cisco Live in Amsterdam, which it said “delivers actionable insights to help organizations to meet their sustainability goals.
“The first of its kind in the collaboration industry, the tool provides scope 2 emissions reporting and recommendations for optimizing energy consumption and usage of Webex devices.”
The offering, the company said, allows companies to:
Estimate energy usage and related carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions from Cisco collaboration devices. The calculations are based on formulas from recognized governmental authorities such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
See emissions trends over time to track progress towards sustainability goals
Guide IT administrators to enable features like Webex’s Office Hours to reduce their energy usage.
“We have built in this AI capability where we can start to learn the patterns of usage of all of our Webex equipment, and put it into low power mode when it’s not in use,” said Barton. “We can report back through our Webex control hub portal, not just the energy reduction, but also the cost savings. It starts to build on that whole sustainability story.”
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