Consumers abandon firms that waste energy storing data 

A power plant.

Consumers abandon firms that waste energy storing data  Duncan is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years experience in journalism. Having launched his tech journalism career as editor of Arabian Computer News in Dubai, he has since edited an array of tech and digital marketing publications, including Computer Business Review, TechWeekEurope, Figaro Digital, Digit and Marketing Gazette.

Almost half of consumers (44%) in the UK think it’s the responsibility of the organisations that store their information online to delete it when it’s no longer needed. This is according to new research from Veritas Technologies, the leader in secure multi-cloud data management.  

And these consumers are prepared to vote with their feet if businesses don’t cut back on data-related pollution: 42% said they would stop buying from a company if they knew it was wilfully causing environmental damage by failing to control how much unnecessary or unwanted data it is storing. 

The research, which polled 2,000 consumers in the UK, also found that 43% said it concerns them that 2% of global energy-related pollution emissions are caused by data centres. In response, over half (56%) said they would like to see more focus from organisations on controlling the negative impact of online data storage on the environment. This could include organisations encouraging their customers to close unused or inactive accounts and issuing guidance on deleting obsolete information they no longer need or want.  

Ian Wood, head of technology UK&I at Veritas Technologies, said: “If you’re a stakeholder in any kind of business, data centres should be the most important item on your agenda since they are mostly fossil fuel-powered and operate 24 hours a day. In fact, data centres are pumping out around 1 to 2% of all global carbon emissions – that’s about the same as the airline industry.

“By 2030 data centres are expected to use as much as 8% of all electricity on the planet. As data centres become an increasingly integral part of the UK’s digital economy, it’s important to recognise the hidden environmental costs that come with them and prioritise the environmental impact of data storage and explore alternative, more sustainable options.” 

The new research also found that almost half (48%) of consumers in Britain said it concerns them that online data storage wastes energy and produces environmental pollution when, on average, half of the data enterprises store is redundant, obsolete or trivial (ROT) and another 35% is “dark” with unknown value, that is according to separate Veritas research in which IT decision makers reported the percentages of ROT, dark and business critical data within their organisations.  

Wood added: “In today’s digital age, many organisations rely on public cloud providers for data storage, but they must not overlook the environmental impact of poor data management practices. While consumers in the UK increasingly prioritise reducing their carbon footprint, businesses are still causing significant pollution by storing unnecessary data. In fact, just 15% of data on average is deemed business critical. This is hugely damaging for both the company and the environment. UK businesses must prioritise sustainable data management practices to minimise their carbon footprint and preserve the environment.  Consumers in the UK are starting to vote with their feet as half of customers indicate that they would stop purchasing from companies that fail to address the issue.” 

“The rewards of identifying and removing redundant business data far outweigh the potential costs and risk of keeping it. Eliminating data waste not only helps strengthen regulatory compliance and reduce costs, it can also help reduce emissions and help protect our planet.” 

Survey Methodology  

The survey, conducted by 3Gem on behalf of Veritas, polled 13,000 consumers across Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Singapore, South Korea, UAE, UK, USA and Japan between February 1-16, 2023. 

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person? Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.

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