Tech Show London: The Dawn of Sustainability

eWeek UK attended the event last week to capture some of the discussions and views.

A green dream is alive and well with the theme of sustainability’s genesis forming part of the discussions at the Tech Show London event last week. 

Amidst the 100 hours of live expert content sessions at ExCeL London, the issue of a green tech world perhaps unsurprisingly popped up.

The entertaining show encompassed five co-located events including Cloud Expo Europe, Data Centre World, Big Data & AI World, Cloud & Cyber Security and DevOps. With hundreds of stands, delegates and things to do and see, what follows below is a mere snapshot of what went on.

The New Digital 

At the session ‘How can your Technology Adoption support sustainability’, Dr Murray Simpson, Global Director – Sustainability CoC, IBM, believes “sustainability is the new digital”.

According to IBM, 70% of sustainability “trailblazers” are using hybrid cloud to advance their objectives. A welcome sign for cloud providers.

Tech Show London 2022

That percentage is a notable number, but he points out that for sustainability in the tech sector – “it’s happening but at an early stage”. We have a long way to go, and where it goes remains to be seen.

Dr Simpson naturally mentioned COP26, and as eWeek UK reported last year the Chancellor talked about his plans to “rewire the entire global financial system for net zero”. To make this happen, there will be “better and more consistent” climate data, sovereign green bonds, mandatory sustainability disclosures, “proper” climate risk surveillance and “stronger” global reporting standards.

Many UK tech startups have sensed an opportunity here. In a variety of scoops, eWeek UK has recently discovered ReforestPay’s tree-loving launch; carbon insurer Kita; sustainability data platform Supernova; and Expect’s decarbonisation management platform.

Anyway, there were plenty of stats on show from Dr Simpson to demonstrate the matter in hand. For example, 100+ countries are committed to net zero emissions, while 54% of consumers are willing to “pay premium for sustainable brands”. The latter figure might be a bit disappointing but with more awareness this number could rise.

On top of that, 59% of investors expect to buy or sell holdings based on environmental sustainability factors; while 68% of the workforce are more likely to accept jobs at environmentally responsible organisations.

Dr Simpson also discussed the technologies that help capture, analyse and report on such data. IoT, mobile, analytics, AI, blockchain, robotics and geospatial data layering all got a mention – and it will be intriguing to see how UK tech firms prosper in these fields.

While the startups mentioned above will be aiming for glory in the sustainability sector, the big names are also looking to excel.

As reported recently, BT moved to the next phase of its Green Tech Innovation Platform as it seeks to make new friends and profit from the race to net zero. In addition, Microsoft was calling for UK startups that are tackling environmental challenges to join its new accelerator programme.

The Future of Data Centres

Elsewhere, a session held by the Uptime Institute discussed some data centre predictions.

To keep it brief, the Uptime Institute reckons Intel is set to find its “mojo” again, while NVIDIA, AWS and Alibaba will outsource manufacturing. The reckoning is that a more diverse supply of chips is on the way.

Someone’s going to get a parking ticket

There are concerns over cloud concentration risk, as the Uptime Institute believes this means companies lose control and insights, while organisations and regulators are worried about transparency.

In a rebuff to the big names, the Uptime Institute notes that using a big cloud provider could lead to “a single point of failure”. Based on its research, the Fortune 500 brigade is simply not keen on moving “mission critical stuff” to the cloud.

There was a sense of doom and gloom as supply chain issues will be even more problematic. The shortages and delays are due to an increased data centre demand. The worry for smaller firms is that they will not be able to compete with the larger companies as the latter have buying power. The Uptime Institute noted delays of up to three to six months for some organisations.

The question of sustainability also reared its head again and it seems the industry consensus on sustainability in terms of data centres looks “fragile”. Data centres will ponder the “nuclear option” – meaning a near zero carbon energy source. However, the stark warning from the Uptime Institute is that trust in regulators is low.

Conclusion

For big names and small, Tech Show London demonstrated that the sustainability sector could offer great opportunities to the UK tech industry. It’s not a revelation as there had been plenty of activity prior to the event. But when a theme is on the agenda and a company like IBM is showing great interest it’s certainly worth keeping in mind.

It’s something that eWeek UK has already discussed in the feature ‘Sense and Sustainability: How Tech Is Mobilising for a Climate Change Future’.

When the Tech Show London event returns in March 2023, it will be good to see how much progress has been made.

Antony Peyton
Antony Peyton
Antony Peyton is the Editor of eWeek UK. He has 18 years' journalism and writing experience. His career has taken him to China, Japan and the UK - covering tech, fintech and business. Follow on Twitter @TonyFintech.

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