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Sustainability Increasingly Influences Technology Partnerships, But Hurdles Remain

June 15, 2023 by Joe Panettieri

Despite ongoing macroeconomic uncertainty, sustainability remains a priority for many technology partners in 2023, according to a Canalys worldwide survey of 545 channel partners across 76 countries.

Among the market shifts to note: 41% of partners say sustainability has frequently influenced their vendor selection process in 2023, up from 23% in 2022.

However, trends vary greatly from region to region. Among the regional nuances to note: 55% of North America partners and 48% of Latin America partners are not yet tracking sustainability KPIs (key performance indicators), compared to 29% in EMEA and 34% in APAC.

Sustainability and Technology Partners: Key Research Findings

Here are 10 takeaways from the comprehensive Canalys report:

1. ESG regulations affect customers' IT decisions and procurement: 69% of partners in EMEA say ESG is having some impact or very significant impact on IT procurement. That figure is 67% in APAC, 47% in North America and 40% in Latin America, the Canalys research found.

2. Are there revenue opportunities for partners?: 53% of EMEA partners say it's extremely likely or likely that they will experience revenue opportunities from sustainability. The figure is 50% for APAC partners, 25% for North America partners, and 24% for Latin America partners.

3. Are customers asking partners about their sustainability strategies? 10% of partners hear that question all the time, and 38% hear it sometimes -- but 52% of partners rarely or never hear such inquiries.

4. Why are customers focused on sustainability solutions?: The typical answer involves government regulations (49%), followed by overall business strategies (47%), and improving energy efficiency (44%), the Canalys research found.

5. Which circular economy IT services do partners offer? The top circular economy services offered by partners include:

  • Takeback and recycle: 51%
  • Product repairs: 51%
  • Refurbish and resell: 39%
  • Energy optimization: 39%
  • Energy assessments: 35%
  • Procurement advice: 25%
  • Electric Vehicle (EV)-only deliveries: 7%

6. How do partners manage IT hardware asset take-back, recovery and recycling services?: The top responses from partners included:

  • We use vendors' services: 53%
  • We use a third-party ITAD (IT asset disposition) firm: 53%
  • We offer our own services: 47%
  • Distribution runs this for us: 28%

7. Are partners interested in product sustainability data from vendors? The short answer is generally yes. 49% of partners are interested in such data and would share it in customer proposals. Moreover, 45% of partners say such data affects their hardware procurement decisions.

8. What sustainability KPIs do partners track?: In EMEA, the top answers included:

  • Number of devices taken back: 41%
  • percentage of renewable energy used internally: 37%
  • Deals that have sustainability requirements: 31%
  • Waste recycling rates: 29%
  • Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions: 27%.

9. Staffing: Only 30% of partners have dedicated sustainability staff. EMEA channel partners lead the way (39%), followed by APAC (23%), North America (12%) and Latin America (10%).

10. Most partners have set their own goals: For 32% of partners, the business strategy is "fully aligned" with sustainability goals. Another 23% of partners have just set such goals. What about the remaining partners?

  • 23% have started to think about sustainability goals
  • 6% will think about such goals in 2023; and
  • 17% have not thought about such goals at all.

Can Partners Achieve Their Own Goals, And What Are The Challenges?

Rachel Brindley, senior director, channels, Canalys

Most partners expect to achieve their sustainability goals: Indeed, 49% expect to meet their sustainability targets. Another 16% is even more optimistic -- stating that they are "firmly on target" to achieve the goals within a stated deadline. Still 32% are unsure about their ability to meet deadlines, and 3% think they may not or definitely won't meet the goals, survey participants said.

Still, partners see multiple challenges on the sustainability front. The top inhibitors include inflation (33%), lack of control over vendor supply chains (30%), and prioritizing sustainability across teams (27%) are the top three issues that threaten progress on the sustainability front, survey participants said.

More Insights: Here are more research findings and insights from Rachel Brindley, senior director of channels at Canalys.

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