At Cognition Cloud, we’re on a mission to make IT more sustainable. In many ways, being more sustainable is just about identifying and eliminating waste. Few businesses can afford to waste money and this is particularly true for smaller businesses.
Below is a summary of just a few ways businesses can save money and reduce IT waste.
Office Productivity Suites – Premium Subscriptions
According to a 2022 report by Gartner, around 75% of businesses worldwide use either Microsoft 365, or Google Workspace.
Microsoft 365 is a subscription-based productivity suite that offers cloud storage, collaboration tools, and security features as well as popular applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Teams.
Google Workspace is a cloud-based platform that provides a similar feature set to M365, with applications all running in a web browser.
Both platforms offer a range of packages and price points. M365 Business Premium and Workspace Business Plus will offer the best set of overall features and security. If you use these, they do represent pretty good value for money.
The most used applications are Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams, OneDrive and SharePoint. Web and Mobile versions of these applications are available in the Business Basic package, which costs almost four times less than Business Premium. The equivalent Business Starter package from Google is three times cheaper than their Business Plus offer.
There are some legitimate justifications to opt for the premium packages, not least the advanced security and compliance features, such as data loss prevention, threat protection, and information rights management. These features enhance data security and help to meet regulatory requirements.
It is worth considering though whether all or some of your users would get just as much value from a cheaper plan. Downgrading 10 users from M365 Business Premium to Business Basic will save a business over £1,500 a year. If you’re getting everything you need from the Basic package, then clearly it doesn’t make sense to pay for more.
Video Conferencing/Collaboration Platforms
The popularity of Zoom has grown significantly in recent years, due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. As more and more businesses have shifted to remote work, Zoom has become an essential tool for communication and collaboration. According to Zoom’s own website, half a million businesses worldwide use Zoom for their critical communications.
However, as mentioned above, 75% of businesses use M365 or Google Workspace and both of which come with powerful collaboration and communication tools similar to Zoom. This presents a clear opportunity for businesses looking for ways to save money and reduce waste.
Teams seamlessly integrates with other Microsoft 365 apps such as Outlook, SharePoint, and OneDrive. This integration allows for smooth collaboration and document sharing within the Microsoft ecosystem. If you are already using Microsoft 365 applications, you may find it more convenient to use Teams since it is part of the same suite. You can use a single login and have all your tools in one place.
Google Meet offers similar benefits in terms of integration with other Workspace applications.
Whilst Zoom has its own strengths and advantages, do any of them justify spending at least £119 a year per user? There is a free tier with Zoom, but that is pretty limiting, so if you already have Teams, or Meet, why Zoom? Getting booted out of an important business call after 40 minutes can be pretty embarrassing.
End User Devices (Laptops, Phones, Tablets)
According to a report by Canalys, the average price of a high-end business laptop in the UK is £1,300 to £1,700. The sort of tasks that most business users need a computer for are general web browsing, document editing, and email. These users will never come close to utilising the resources on these high-end machines. As a result, the capacity and the cost of buying them is largely wasted. This wasted spend is compounded by the fact that most businesses replace their computers every three or four years.
A virtual desktop service like Azure Virtual Desktop makes it possible to eliminate overspend on your end user devices. Windows is streamed from the Cloud so you only need a basic and fairly low-spec machine to use it on. Yet, you have the flexibility to increase processing power and memory for those users who need it for activities such as video editing or 3D rendering. You can also save money by reducing resources, applying autoscaling, or simply switching things off when you don’t need them.
With Windows in the Cloud, your requirements are future-proofed as you can easily upgrade when new versions are released without worrying about hardware compatibility. Windows machines in particular tend to run slower over time (see this article to learn more). With Windows in the cloud, you don’t need to have it installed on your computers, making it more secure and you don’t have the risk of it running slower over time.
If you’re seriously looking for ways businesses can save money, you’ve got your golden opportunity right here. Pretty much all businesses could spend half as much on their computers and keep them for twice as long. There is a lot of waste to reduce here and hence lots of money to save.
Tablets and phones are also replaced much more frequently than they need to be. Both individuals and businesses typically purchase a bundle from their mobile operator that includes voice and data services as well as the device. With this model, the device is effectively leased. When the lease term ends, the tendency is just to replace the device with a new one. This can work out to be costly when compared with buying a device outright and using it for a longer number of years. You could save a lot of money by sourcing high quality refurbished phones and tablets from sites like Doji or the iOutlet.
It’s worth noting that despite their high cost, the most popular mobile devices are not designed to last long, and some are made in a way that makes changing a battery or a screen very difficult. New alternatives, like Fairphone, employ a modular design that makes their devices easy to repair and upgrade. Fairphone say their sustainable smartphones can be used for up to 10 years, making them an economic alternative for businesses to invest in.
In theory cloud computing helps businesses to reduce waste. Workloads can be collocated on servers that are shared across multiple applications and customers. Capacity can be used more intensively, making it potentially more efficient. In reality though, many businesses have been caught out with excessive cloud costs.
It isn’t a case of cloud computing being more expensive, rather that many businesses lack the skills and resources to manage it efficiently and effectively. According to Flexera’s 2022 State of the Cloud report, 32% of cloud computing resources are typically wasted. This means that businesses can save money by identifying the resources that they are not using and reducing their resource allocation.
The average business spends $50,000 per year on cloud waste. The biggest contributors to cloud waste are overprovisioning and unused resources. Cloud waste is a growing problem, and it is estimated that it will cost businesses $100 billion by 2025.
By taking steps to right size your resources, monitor your usage, and optimise your costs, you can save money and improve your cloud efficiency.
Waste = Cost
According to Jonathan T Scott, the founder and director of the Center for Industrial Productivity and Sustainability, waste is defined as not obtaining 100% from purchases and investments. Based on this definition, most businesses have significant waste in their IT spend. It’s worth taking some time to look at where your IT spend is going and whether you are really getting value for money.
Profit equals Revenue minus cost. Therefore, less waste means more profit. Who doesn’t want more profit?