#Service design
27 May 2022

Sustainability as a crucial aspect of Service Design

It will take you to read the article4 minutes

Projekt bez tytu艂u
Katarzyna M艂ynarczyk
Co-founder | Service Design Lead

Each year, more and more companies consider the impact of their activities on the natural environment and climate change. This is the result of not only EU regulations, e.g., in the field of carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere, but also the growing environmental awareness of customers. As a result, sustainability has become one of the key market requirements.

As Socjomania, we are widely experienced both in optimizing existing digital services to be more sustainable and designing new ones. The number of our clients that are interested in the subject of sustainability grows systematically. Some companies even create new positions, such as sustainability officers, or entire departments, whose task is to look for a balance in the offered business services. However, people who are keen on introducing changes often lack knowledge and tools. Therefore, let鈥檚 briefly explain how digital services can affect the environment, how to introduce small but significant changes in your own company, and where to look for help with their implementation.聽

Every click leaves a mark

We all know that every digital activity leaves a mark, but we usually mean a digital footprint. However, the carbon one is equally important – and today, rough estimates indicate that what we do on computers, smartphones and tablets is responsible for 4% of global carbon dioxide emissions. Although it may be surprising to many, leaders in the world of new technologies have long realized it. Such as Elon Musk, who resigned from accepting Bitcoin cryptocurrency payments when buying Tesla cars. Why? Because Bitcoin is based on blockchain technology that uses the power of thousands of computers, which has a significant impact on the environment – experts argue that it can even raise the earth’s temperature by 2 degrees Celsius.

Does this mean that digital activities should be assessed negatively? Not at all! Thanks to the use of artificial intelligence (AI), we are able to respond faster to challenges related to natural disasters, e.g., thanks to data collected and analyzed in the Azure cloud, it is possible to predict the limits of fire or flood spreading. New technologies, also based on AI, make it possible to optimize energy consumption in modern buildings and thus reduce the carbon footprint. Thanks to the use of loT (Internet of Things) systems, it is possible to collect and analyze data to better understand the impact on the environment in production, agriculture, and other industries. These are just three of many examples showing that we do need digital services. So how to make their design and use more sustainable?

The method of small steps

First of all, it should be remembered that it is worth starting with small steps, for example, establishing that online calls are the preferred form of meetings, which we have been doing in Socjomania for a long time. Then, of course, we agree to face-to-face meetings if the planned training should include an integration element, which is particularly important after the pandemic isolation. The issue of creating materials is similar – we offer digital materials much more often. We also run other sustainable projects alongside Socjomania, such as Rebread –聽circular economy startup saving bread from being treated as waste and turning it into valuable products and services. Rebread is now in the process of obtaining financing for its dynamic development.

What solutions do we recommend?

(Only) really valuable data – most companies collect far too much of it, and its storage generates a vast energy consumption. Therefore, it is worth reviewing the existing databases, removing obsolete and unnecessary data, and in the future, creating new rules that will clearly define what data and for how long it should be stored. The most prominent players such as Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft, have even committed to using only renewable energy to power their data centers.聽

Take care of your digital infrastructure – optimize it to leave the lowest possible carbon footprint. This solution was introduced by Volkswagen on the website promoting the ID.4 SUV – two versions of the website were designed, one standard, the other with an interface displaying a simplified version of the text and black and white images. Result? The second website effectively generated about 50 percent less carbon dioxide.聽

Employee education is essential聽

Designers and programmers designing digital services should take into account the environmental impact of the final service at the stage of working on the idea and creating prototypes. If you know that they may lack knowledge and tools, organize a lecture, a training, or provide materials from which they will learn the basic principles of design in the spirit of sustainability.聽

Sustainability in ESG initiatives – what is ESG? It is an abbreviation of the words environment, social responsibility, and corporate governance, which, in short, deal with the impact of the company’s activities on the environment in which it is located. This trend is becoming more and more popular, so it is worth joining by focusing on the sustainable development of the digital services offered.聽

Little successes on the way to green business聽

Becoming truly sustainable takes time – it’s a marathon, not a sprint. It is worth setting big goals that will cause our company to be called “green” in some time, but also regularly, e.g. every quarter, to celebrate even small successes, such as reducing the amount of data stored in the cloud. If your organization is in the process of introducing such solutions or you think they should be introduced, but you lack the tools or arguments to convince others – we invite you to contact us at Socjomania. We can start by auditing the organization in terms of sustainability or equip the leaders with appropriate knowledge that they will be able to use in their daily work.聽

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