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Working with Our Customers to Build a Sustainable Future

Written by

Natalie Billingham

January 27, 2021

Natalie Billingham

By now, we hope you've our blog posts announcing the release of our annual sustainability report, our sustainability program, and the technical innovation behind this initiative.

While it's clear Akamai has made great strides on sustainability, in this post I will discuss the importance of sustainability to our customers -- how I've seen buyer behavior change over the past five years, and how we can work together to build a sustainable future. 

If you were to ask me about the relevance of sustainability in purchasing habits five years ago, I'd laud the foresight of niche B2C companies like Kiehl's and Lush (while also enjoying their products), but would consider the approach of skin care companies far from relevant in the high tech space. Sustainability was a "nice to have," and the idea of a company adjusting business-as-usual to meet a preference seemed unlikely.

Fast forward to today, and that could not be further from the truth. Many different kinds of customers demand sustainability. Both business-to-consumer and business-to-business customers seek products and brands that align with their values. In fact, according to a 2020 IBM study, nearly 6 in 10 consumers surveyed are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact. Furthermore, almost 8 in 10 respondents indicate sustainability is important for them.

To meet these changing demands, companies are putting pressure on their operations and supply chain to be inclusive of sustainability. As these companies are paying closer attention to the impacts of their value chain, questions emerge: "How sustainable is the way we're working? What are the impacts of what we're doing? How can we change to be more sustainable?"

Just because these are the right questions to ask doesn't make them any easier to answer -- we, as an industry, have our work cut out for us. Forrester says it best: "Tech leaders must do their part to save the planet. This responsibility lies not just with technology providers but also with the industries they enable. Tech leaders of all kinds can collectively reduce technology's carbon footprint."

We are not in this alone. Our customers, partners, and others in the industry inspire us with their creativity and collaboration in making more sustainable business decisions. Furthermore, they empower us with their support by making this a measured factor in why we continue to work together. 

I've learned that the best answer to this seemingly insurmountable problem is collaboration, transparency, and accountability. The best we can be is a partner to our customers in their sustainability journey. In the process we have also established some genuinely meaningful customer connections, as a result of unified sustainability goals. One way we do this is by offering customers reports that show their allocated share of emissions on our platform as a result of their server and energy usage. By providing these reports, we help to demystify their environmental impacts so we know where our mitigation efforts should start. The discussion and feedback from our customers on these reports have opened up interesting new strands of engagement, as well as affirmed commitments to a shared purpose.

By demanding a more sustainable supply chain, our customers have ushered in a new generation of partnership, where everyone wins -- even the planet. I can't think of a more exciting way to build a better future.  

To learn more, check out our sustainability report



Written by

Natalie Billingham

January 27, 2021