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Avoid being a sustainability support outcast

Avoid being a sustainability support outcast

Canalys has heard of several occasions in the last few weeks where vendors have misunderstood partners’ sustainability needs. So how can you avoid being the next vendor to incur the wrath of the partner community?


Over the last few months, Canalys has noted increasing numbers of channel partners telling us that their vendors are not providing them with enough support on sustainability.

This comes at a time when customer awareness is growing, particularly in light of governmental regulations, which are driving behavioral change. Couple this with the commitments many governments have made around net zero and carbon reduction, it is evident that organizations are focusing increasing efforts on their own operations.

These events are having a knock-on effect on partners as customers look to their suppliers and partners to assist in measuring, monitoring and reducing their carbon footprints.

Recent Canalys quick polls highlight the increasing challenge that the partners (and vendors) face. 83% of customer RfPs now have environmental sustainability criteria built in, up from 75% in 2022. However (a disappointingly low) 16% of channel partners state that all of their vendors have dedicated partner sustainability criteria resources and support. Worse, over 40% of partners say just a few or none of their vendors have dedicated partner sustainability resources. Furthermore, according to Canalys research, 42% of partners consider sustainability in their choice of vendor partners. 

For many vendors, a partner requesting help has come as a surprise. Almost every vendor has made substantial progress with their own corporate sustainability plans and objectives, but many have not translated this to support their supply chains. This is despite the fact that for most vendors more than 90% of their carbon footprint comes from their partner ecosystems. Schneider Electric’s CEO, Peter Herweck recently stated that “more than 99% of Schneider Electric’s carbon footprint is under the shared influence of our ecosystem. That means that to meet our net zero commitments, we need to engage our full value chain". Most frequently, vendors are yet to recognize that they need to support their downstream partners.

Canalys has observed that PC vendors are generally further ahead than many of the infrastructure and software vendors, especially hyperscalers. Device vendors have been forced to act more quickly, as customers have become more aware of their used equipment. As regulations come to the fore, more attention will be placed on hyperscale and software vendors. Some vendors can be nervous about discussing their progress with partners, often driven by concerns over greenwashing or that they may not be doing enough. However, not communicating with partners risks the loss of confidence in their activities.

So how can you avoid being the next vendor called out by your partner?

  1. Ask what your partners are hearing from customers
    • What are the most frequent requests customers make of partners and what are you doing to support this?
  2. Discover how many of your partners have their sustainability strategies in place
    • Make this part of quarterly business reviews, what is your ESG strategy and how are you measuring it?
  3. Engage with corporate sustainability teams; make them aware of what your partners need
    • Use the information partners share to drive corporate sustainability teams to better support your entire ecosystem.
    • Lobby for dedicated resources and investments to support your partner ecosystem.
  4. Do not be scared of communicating with your partners
    • Recognize partners' need and want to know your strategies and your resources.
  5. Be prepared and ready to answer granular questions on your data.
    • Especially around product carbon footprint, sustainability benefits of cloud and others.

As the sustainability landscape rapidly evolves, it is crucial for vendors to stay ahead of the curve and be ready for their partners and customers. Canalys, with its extensive expertise and innovative Sustainable Channels Analysis service, offers a comprehensive solution for vendors looking to navigate these changes effectively. This service aids IT vendors in assessing key sustainability channel trends among competitors and across the channel and customers, ensuring they are well-positioned to meet the growing demands for environmental responsibility. Get in touch for more about our 2024 research agenda. 

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