BIG CORPORATIONS, within and beyond IT, have been broadcasting environmental sustainability commitments for years. So when Cisco joined in last fall with an ambitious pledge to reach net-zero emissions on everything it makes and ships by 2040, it was hardly blazing new trails.
What it introduced this April, however, is a different story. Called the Environmental Sustainability Specialization, it’s designed to drive partner participation in the company’s Takeback and Reuse program, an earlier initiative that lets buyers of new gear return their old hardware for refurbishment and recycling—on Cisco’s dime—instead of dump it in a landfill. Earning the designation takes just 15 hours of training for two people, and all enrollees must do to retain their status is complete one deal involving exchanged hardware per year.
All of that sounded pretty good to Core BTS, an IT consulting firm and MSP headquartered in Indianapolis, and one of the first Cisco partners to sign up. “We thought it was the right thing to do for our customers and quite frankly for the environment,” says John Samz, senior vice president in charge of the company’s Cisco alliance.
Somewhat to Samz’s surprise, however, the program has proven to be rewarding in more tangible ways. Partners that earn the still-young specialization are eligible for up to seven points of incremental discount on new products, which they can factor into lower-priced bids. Those price cuts have helped Core BTS earn green cash along with green street cred.
“We have a competitive advantage, not only in the eyes of our customers because we’re providing them some environmental sustainability, but also in hard dollars and cents,” Samz says.
It’s a dynamic an increasing number of channel pros are discovering. In multiple (sometimes unanticipated) ways, embracing sustainable IT is turning out to be a form of corporate responsibility that supplies hardcore ROI as well.
More Money, Less Anxiety
Brand appeal is just one example. As more and more end users get serious about sustainability, they’re looking for comparably serious IT providers. “The commitment a company has is important to customers who want to work with companies that have similar values,” says Andrew Sage, Cisco’s vice president of global distribution sales.
Indeed, sustainability has become a bigger influence on purchasing behavior over the last five years for 85% of respondents to a global 2021 survey by consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners. “Partners are in some cases losing deals if they haven’t implemented their own sustainability strategy,” says Rachel Brindley, senior director for channels at analyst firm Canalys.