Consumers turned off by data hogs

Tuesday, 11 April, 2023

Consumers turned off by data hogs

New research has found that nearly half of Australian consumers (46%) believe that organisations should delete information stored online when it is no longer needed. The report suggests consumers are willing to vote with their feet if businesses don’t cut back on data-related pollution, with four in 10 (41%) saying they would stop buying from a company that is wilfully causing environmental damage by failing to control how much unnecessary or unwanted data it is storing.

The research from Veritas polled 13,000 consumers around the world including Australia and also found 40% are concerned that 2% of global energy-related pollution emissions are caused by data centres. In response, 57% of Australians said they would like to see more focus from local organisations on controlling the negative impact of online data storage on the environment. This could include organisations encouraging their customers to close unused or inactive accounts and guidance on deleting obsolete information they no longer need or want.

“Beyond the costs of storing data, the hidden costs of its environmental impact should be at the top of every business leader’s agenda,” said Rags Srinivasan, chief sustainability officer at Veritas Technologies.

“Data centres run 24 hours a day and by 2030 are expected to use as much as 8% of all electricity on the planet. It’s easy to forget that data centres are mostly fossil fuel-powered and generate about the same amount of CO2 as the airline industry.”

The research also found that almost half (47%) of consumers globally said it concerns them that online data storage wastes energy and produces environmental pollution when, on average, half of the data enterprises store is redundant, obsolete or trivial (ROT) and another 35% is ‘dark’ with unknown value, according to separate Veritas research in which IT decision-makers reported the percentages of ROT, dark and business-critical data within their organisations.

“Filtering data that is not needed should become a moral imperative for everyone to reduce the environment impact,” said Pete Murray, managing director of ANZ at Veritas Technologies.

“Besides the cybersecurity concerns related to unnecessary data hoarding, many consumers also feel passionately about reducing their carbon footprints. Australian companies should consider the environmental impact of poor data management practices, even if they outsource their data storage to public cloud providers. With half of Australians saying that they would stop buying from companies that fail to address environmental challenges, the risk to businesses of ignoring this issue is too significant to ignore any longer.”

Image credit: Alija

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