Interview: Security and Sustainability Belong Together

In addition to security, IT solutions must also be able to demonstrate sustainability. Analyst Simon Mingay, Research Vice President, Gartner Research, explains why.

We know that digitization has to be secure. But it also has to be sustainable, for the climate and the environment. But does this also have economic benefits?

Simon Mingay: Environmental sustainability is one of the biggest challenges facing society, business and the economy. Improving sustainability requires a rich and diverse range of technologies in different areas. Companies with the best capabilities to leverage these technologies will create significant value for their stakeholders and for society.

What role should sustainability play in emerging technology purchasing and management conversations?

While technology is a double-edged sword when it comes to its relationship with sustainability, technological innovation will play a critical role in helping companies survive and thrive in a circular economy.

Executives and CIOs who can best integrate and leverage the multiple sustainable technology options into their transformation strategy will be more successful in achieving their goals and remaining competitive.

Sustainability is a complex issue, and because of the multitude of related technologies, many paths often lead to the same goal. Leaders must not only find appropriate solutions, but also be prepared to explain the big picture to illustrate why they chose the technologies they did and how they align with the organization’s overall sustainability goals

How would you describe sustainability in secure IT? What sustainability criteria do you see in IT security?

I’ll give two examples: First, there is the availability of support, both for hardware parts and support for operating systems and bug/security fixes for drivers and firmware. This should ensure that the original vendor provides software and firmware updates to address security issues for the expected life of the solution.

But it’s also about security policies: Many organizations have security policies that require media (such as hard drives and SSDs) to be shredded, destroying reuse potential. More sustainable software cleanup options need to become available.

So where do sustainability measures need to pay even more attention to security?

For example, in the future, data exchange between companies must include greenhouse gas emissions data so that industry partners from insurance, real estate development, banking, and logistics and supply chain organizations can model their impact to avoid business risk. But this also includes consideration of data security.

Or with digital twins: Organizations are using digital twins to create virtual representations of previously opaque entities or activities for processes, costs, revenues or other business goals such as sustainability. But user organizations here should also incorporate IT best practices for software asset development and management, security and integration.

For IoT projects, such as those in the environment and climate: User companies should ensure teams focus on both IT and operations architecture to address key technology complexity, security and integration challenges.

Simon Mingay

Simon Mingay

is a research vice president at Gartner Research. He currently conducts research in several key areas, including sustainability and sustainable IT, IT operating models, and shadow IT. Prior to joining Gartner, Mr. Mingay worked in the semiconductor industry in various roles within the IT organization, from IT service management to IT strategic planning.