TUESDAY 11 FEB 2020 12:38 PM


Every time you browse the internet, stream a television series, use social media or log in to your internet bank, a process starts in a data centre. If that data centre is a powerhungry, coalfired one you are contributing to climate change – most likely unknowingly, says Fredrik Jansson. Digiplex has been shortlisted in the 2020 Corporate Content Awards

Sustainability is high on the agenda of marketers in the IT industry, and so it should be. Data centres, the vital infrastructure needed to share your selfies, stream movies and deliver your social media likes, consume 3% of the world's power and contribute 2% of carbon emissions. By 2025 these figures could increase to 20% of global power consumption and 5.5% of carbon emissions. Sustainability has quickly become a key marketing message as more organisations seek to burnish their green credentials.

But with so many brands jumping on the bandwagon how can marketers ensure that they are not only differentiated, but credible? The charge of ‘greenwashing’ is frequently levelled at those seeking to hide less than ideal environmental performance behind a veneer of green messaging.

DigiPlex designs, builds and operates sustainable data centres in the Nordic region, which support the digital infrastructure of the biggest brands, including those behind online services used by billions of people around the world. It is therefore at the heart of the issue and many would have chosen to avoid the ‘difficult’ questions about IT’s 'dirty little secret:' the environmental impact of data centres. Instead, the company made the bold decision in 2016 to put sustainability at the heart of its marketing and communications.

Fundamental to DigiPlex’s sustainability messaging is that it is not a message: it is the message. Since 2016, all of DigiPlex marketing has been dedicated to communicating, educating and providing insight on the importance of environmental sustainability for data centres. The company overhauled its website, social channels, PR and marcoms outreach to focus on this one issue. It has been unflinching in its desire to lead the industry and initiate discussion, action and change towards environmentally sustainable solutions. The company has commissioned research, written reports, presented and spoken at events across the Nordic region and internationally, constantly reiterating the need for cleaner data centres.

When it embarked on this journey in 2016, DigiPlex’s own research showed that environmental performance was bottom of the list of purchase considerations. Two years later it had become the fourth most important consideration. Further research in 2019 found that 69% of consumers wanted digital service providers to minimise their digital environmental footprint.

Sustainability is not only central to DigiPlex’s marketing, but to the operations and mission of the company overall. In 2016, DigiPlex was among the first to talk about these issues, but it had already built a strong track record that provided a credible foundation for this positioning. Whilst many are just now addressing sustainability, DigiPlex has been using renewable energy since 2004. It has invested in innovations that reduce the carbon footprint of its facilities and contribute to more sustainable communities. For example, 15,000 homes in Oslo and Stockholm will be heated using ‘waste’ heat from DigiPlex’ nearby data centres.

The bold decisions of 2016 have paid off. Not only does DigiPlex consistently win awards for its sustainability, but it has seen brand awareness grow by over 350% in three years from under 12% awareness among c-level audiences to a market leading score of over 56%. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, which is one reason why DigiPlex is pleased to see so many others in the sector add sustainability to their marketing campaigns. More importantly however, is that the whole industry is now waking up to the importance of this issue and joining DigiPlex in talking about and acting upon this topic with their stakeholders. Real change is happening.

Fredrik Jansson is the chief strategy & marketing/communications officer at DigiPlex

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