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In this exclusive interview, Eusebi LLensa, CEO of Outvise, talks about how his company is helping ICT companies source skilled Business Tech talents—experts in business and technology— and the importance of sustainability as a recurring theme in the industry.

Please tell us a bit about Outvise and its mission in the sustainability and technology space.

We are an innovative talent-sourcing platform where businesses can access top ICT talent on demand in a very flexible and efficient manner. We do this through a community of thousands of certified Business Tech experts located globally. We are proud to have many of the leading industry players, with a strong focus on ICT and telco, as our clients.

Within our network, we can locate over 2000 senior freelancers with relevant experience in the fields of smart cities, sustainability and energy efficiency. Because of this, we have a privileged view of the work and intent to improve sustainability in the telecoms and ICT sector. Also, thanks to our presence in the GCC, where we have an office in Dubai, we are sensitive to this theme, especially since Dubai will host COP28, and we are collaborating with the Fiber Connect Council MENA (previously FTTH Council MENA) on topics such as this one.

Why is sustainability a core theme for telecom companies today and what steps can telecom operators take to incorporate sustainability into their operations?

The ICT industry in general and the telco industry specifically will increasingly become part of the sustainability discussion and focus. Among the many reports available on the topic of sustainability, one by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) states that currently, ICT itself represents about 3-4% of all CO2 emissions, and about half of it is telecom.

With the huge increases in data usage, this could reach 14% of total emissions by 2040. Something must be done to transport, process and store all this data in sustainable ways. Moreover, data centers alone could represent 8% of electricity consumption worldwide by 2030.

ICT and telecoms are relevant players in making our economies and lives more sustainable. It is not just the direct impact of the industry but also the way it enables new ecosystems, business models and lifestyles on the path to sustainability.

According to Daniel Danon, a senior data center consultant and interim manager in our network, sustainability is a critical concern for telcos due to limited natural resources and the increasing emphasis on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) regulations. Embracing sustainability not only aligns with ethical values but also opens strategic opportunities for revenue growth, margin improvement and establishing a competitive edge. Demonstrating a commitment to sustainability can attract eco-conscious customers, enhance the brand's reputation, and appeal to potential employees and stakeholders.

Telecom operators can start by conducting energy audits to identify areas of energy wastage and optimize expenditure. Integrating energy and resource consumption criteria into product development and operational redesign can also contribute to sustainability. Moreover, leveraging ESG compliance not only as an obligation but as an opportunity can align with forward-looking regulations and enhance the telco's market presence.

What are the biggest sustainability levers in telecommunications today?

When we talk about sustainability, we dive deep into our community, and we can find multiple examples of how telecom companies and the ICT industry in general can benefit from reaching out to our experts from all aspects of the value chain.

Telcos have a relevant impact on what is called scope 2 and 3 emissions: sourcing energy directly and through the energy consumed by their upstream and downstream partners (2/3 of their emissions correspond to partners).

A telco’s holistic approach should be:

  • Embedding sustainability in an organization
  • Helping reduce emissions, for example, in the data center space
  • Focusing on enabling sustainable ecosystems and communities

According to Larissa Gleich, a senior sustainability business consultant, there is a huge focus on reducing the carbon footprint in telecommunications, but in addition to doing the obvious to reduce emissions by using less and greener energy overall, she mentions five areas to consider:

  1. Reducing waste by increasing the “life span” or longevity of products: The longer one can use something efficiently, the less one needs to re-produce or manage it as a waste product. Avoid going for the cheapest in short-term cost but do a full-cost analysis with suppliers over the usage, including guarantees, after-sale support, duration of spare parts availability and interchangeability — essentially, aiming for life-cycle approaches instead of one-offs.
  1. What applies to large network setups also applies to devices and every smaller component: Opting for devices whose batteries, displays, etc. can be replaced and repaired individually rather than having to throw away the whole device.
  1. Collaborating with suppliers and/or sustainable startups, as they know what is best that complies with the companies’ expectations: Instead of being conscious of the cost alone, watch out for alternatives that are available to be beneficial in the mid- to long-term. Sustainability starts with product design and supply chain, with many great innovative and green initiatives that can take telcos to the next level of sustainable telecoms.
  1. Making recycling a core business proposition and benefiting from all those parts being reused: Lobbying with local governments and talking to competitors to find ways to create a win-win deal for you while preserving nature by reducing waste and re-using what is already there.
  1. Integrating the principles of “5R” — refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and rot — should be a part of all departments, especially the product-related ones. Anything from packaging (compostable, renewable or reusable) to transport (more local production, less carbon emissions) and waste management, there are a lot of opportunities that will reduce overall costs and benefit productivity and the environment.

All of these are just examples of opportunities waiting for companies to implement on a large scale — leaving room for establishing your company as a sustainability leader, adding brand value to keep customers happy and loyal, and keeping the environment clean. Sustainability needs to be a real and actual effort for stakeholders to be willing to support it - and potentially also spend more. The time to act is now.

How does sustainability lead to more customer loyalty and overall business success?

According to Larissa, while efforts to reduce CO2 emissions and cost reductions are made continuously, sustainability efforts are becoming more and more the focus of customer perception and subsequently their loyalty to a provider. In her experience, one way this is successfully achieved is by making your customers part of your efforts — providing them with greener alternatives (e.g., tariffs powered by green energy), offering circular products (e.g., Fairphone) or simply making recycling easier (e.g., the collection of old phones for recycling).

Studies have shown the significance of sustainability to customers and their willingness to spend up to 10% more if the efforts lead to a tangible impact. In addition, people have wants and needs for alternatives, which leaves the market with a huge opportunity to differentiate from competitors by not only reducing the carbon footprint but also using proven methods towards a more sustainable business.

How can telecoms draw inspiration from the progress made in the data center industry toward energy efficiency?

According to Daniel Danon, the telecom industry can learn from the data center industry's advancements in energy efficiency. Innovations in cooling technologies and power supply systems have led the way, but scaling them and developing further innovations are necessary. Step changes such as immersive cooling and direct-to-chip liquid cooling technologies with Power Utilization Efficiency (PUE) as low as 1.05/1.07 set new standards. Heat reuse is another essential piece of the sustainability steps. Yet they all remain on the fringes.

The transformative drive will come from growing customer demand for low-PUE data centers, motivated by their customers and ESG commitments. A data center is in almost every company’s scope 2 or scope 3 (scopes covering indirect energy and resource use). These types of KPIs and measurements could be translated to all the telecom services provided to consumers.

Sustainability and energy-efficient smart cities are important topics on many city councils' agendas. How do you see telecom operators contributing to this scenario? Why are they necessary?

As enablers, ICT and telecoms can shape new lifestyles and ecosystems. Smart Cities are an obvious application. According to Peter Kamp, a smart city and data senior expert in our network, 5G and near real-time operations are something telco operators excel at, and that can be the "glue" to make a list of already existing, stand-alone technologies into a large-scale smart city scenario. As a possible future use case, there are more and more electric cars with a growing share of reverse-charging capabilities. Sustainable cities can have photoelectric and wind energy generation at a certain scale, but the two do not often mix.

If we look at the total fleet of reverse-charge-capable cars in a city rather than just a single car, we get a formidable power source and storage capability. Individual power sources may be benefiting single buildings. Connecting all the city-wide power sources with all the storage capability and making it available for the city community is a technologically challenging task where near real-time switching is required. The solution must bring together power suppliers, private and professional, allowing them to quickly switch to a 5G-enabled electrical network, and let the city set the rules for making this a mutually profitable project for all involved parties. A natural lead role would fall to a telco provider to bring in that near-real-time capability.

To conclude, how does Outvise empower telcos by connecting them with specialized talent?

Outvise contributes to new sustainable ways of operating by providing a new way of talent sourcing through socializing access to the best talent to help ICT businesses deliver the best to their clients and stakeholders.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, this access has expanded as remote work can now be managed very well, and there is no need to move people to different locations and generate unnecessary waste. In addition, we facilitate the work of experts to access clients anywhere, accelerating the way knowledge is shared and distributed.

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