Season 3, Episode 098: Phil Clark

Embedded IT | ​IT Services | August 17th 2020 | 39:49

The Story

Phil Clark

Phil Clark is the owner of Embedded IT, a group of experienced consultants who have lived through IT Services complexity, and understand the impacts that these changes will have on everyone's business. They advise clients on how to buy IT stuff, or how IT companies can work with each other. 

Highlights of Phil Clark

  • Embedded IT works with all aspects of the IT portfolio.
  • Phil and Clark talk about people's decisions when it comes to buy technology and how buying behaviour is slowly changing.
  • Phil goes through why equipment is not made locally and what we could to tackle this.
  • Apple and Lenovo companies and the longevity of their products.
  • How switching off equipment can have a big impact.


"There is a consumerist view of the world now, where I chuck my iPad in the bin every two years, I'll get a new laptop every three years. I don't think anyone's really asking the question, if you look in the corporate world, do you really need a new phone? Do you really need a new laptop?".

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Will Richardson - 00:02

Hi Phil, welcome to the green element podcast. You work for embedded it, would it be possible if you tell us a bit more about who you are and what embedded it is, please?

Phil Clark - 00:11

Yes, of course. So, Embedded IT is my own consultancy. We're very small companies, only three of us but we do IT commercial management and procurement consultancy for some fairly large clients and some IT companies as well. So, a niche is really to advise clients on how to buy IT stuff, or how it companies can work with each other. And that's all context.

Will Richardson - 00:35

Okay. And when you say stuff, is that hardware and software or is that just hardware alone?

Phil Clark - 00:39

It's all aspects of heart of the IT portfolio. So that's hardware software. We're doing a lot around services at the moment. Obviously, people there's a lot of skills gaps in the technology space, so there's a big market for that. But also, we get involved in telecoms, so voice and data type connectivity services, to do the full l stack of IT from connectivity right up to applications and software.

Will Richardson - 01:03

And you're obviously on this show because of sustainability and environmental management, and bringing what you've just said into context around services, hardware, software, and connectivity, etc. How does that how does sustainability fit into? Either any of them, all of them? I mean, for example, software, like does it does it come into it just do? Do people think about where things are held or...

Phil Clark - 01:36

People think about where things are held, but not necessarily from a sustainability perspective. And this is one of the reasons why I'm really keen to get my head around how all this works in a bit more detail. So, if you position me as a procurement person, the people who buy IT staff are under a lot of pressure from generic procurement processes to assume or consider sustainability practices. Part of the CSR goals. But I think in the world of IT and it supply chain, it's not as transparent as it could be. And I think as people get more into using IT both hardware and software, it could we could do some really good things and have a profound impact on the environment. Or we could do some really bad things and have a profound impact on the environment in the other direction. So I think it's really just trying to understand how we can help the technology industry, leverage the technology skills they've got and the capers they've got to add goods to the environmental impacts of day to day businesses.

Will Richardson - 02:38

I know one of the questions we're asked quite a lot at the moment when we call them an organisation, they obviously they actually do tend to be the larger organisations, but it's where our data is stored. And so, for example, one of the big ones that also has a shop haven't been able to answer any of the environmental questions that we put to them. And I think, for me, it's not necessarily that they're not answering, it's actually more that people are asking. That's actually quite interesting. And it's becoming more normal to ask as well.

Phil Clark - 03:10

Hmm. And I think, originally, so those sort of questions about the cloud and where data is stored. Originally, were driven by the GDPR angle. So, you know, data privacy and data sovereignty. But I think you're right, that sustainability and the environmental agenda is rapidly increasing in pace. And as a result, some of the impacts of moving things to the cloud are now having to go right through the supply chain to understand what the where a data centre is located, but not just that, how's it called? How's it powered? Is it using environmental means to do so? And there's some really interesting approaches being taken to those sorts of services which, you know, I can elaborate on if you like, but fundamentally it's, it's a really interesting area to be in.

Will Richardson - 03:56

Yeah, bags. Yeah, that's and you've actually been a few helpful hints on questions around the environmental impact of your industry. And I think one of the things that I'd quite like to just explore at the moment is the rare materials. There was a report that came out last year. That's everyone has been talking about. Do you think that's made an impact on people's decisions? 

Phil Clark - 04:26

I think the raw materials pieces is interesting, in the context of fat is a very physical manifestation of the environment. And clearly, that's one aspect of the consideration for buying technology. But I think that the whole industry has quite a broad range of impacts. And I say we touched on things like the cloud and the use of power. The fact that very few items are recycled at the moment from a hardware perspective makes it difficult. There's a lot of plastics used in IT, so you know that that has an impact. The fact that the bulk of IT assets are manufactured in Asia or a long way away from where the bulk of the buyers are, means there's a lot of supply chain overhead to the environment in environmental impact as well. So there's lots of considerations that I think people are slowly waking up to, but we lack any real structure by which we can ascertain the impact of a particular product or a particular company, on the environment in the context of buying technology. And certainly from procurement standpoint, it would be really good if we had a bit more focused on IT companies to your point that the large retailer stroke IT company should really you know, be under pressure to announce their environmental impacts in the same structure that everyone else's so it becomes part of the assessment criteria when you're looking to buy technology.

Will Richardson - 05:55

Because one of the one of the when we buy laptops, we buy refurbished, and then we also go for Lenovo. And we're only going on, you know, what Greenpeace and other people have highlighted as better products. I mean, is there anything out there that week that you know of that would help people understand what products to buy?

Phil Clark - 06:25

Not that I'm aware of I mean, so there's a number of layers to the market, which is probably worth just exploring, then there's a lot of focus on the manufacturing aspect. So, if you think if you think of the technology market in sort of two main layers, that there's a manufacturers of hardware and software, and they create products that then goes to end users to be consumed. And I think most of the major manufacturers have got some semblance of environmental and broader CSR policies and statements which they publish, which can be accessed if requested. I think the if requested point is that some point you need to do a lot of digging, and a lot of investigation to get some of that information out of those manufacturers and in some cases those manufacturers don't want to share. So, the hardware manufacturer side of things is could be done better in my view. Software development is a slightly different conundrum. Obviously, people who are developing software, there tend to be big bunches of people in buildings, there's not a lot of manufacturing is virtual, if you like nonphysical manufacturing, and therefore, the environmental impact is a bit different. And if anything, software, I think, will allow us to use clever techniques to reduce environmental impact on some of the requirements for IT going forward. That that's definitely a thing that is worth pursuing. And things like automation, which we can talk about potentially later. But imagine that's the vendors you know, they've been Microsoft and HP and IBM to Lenovo as of this world. Now they have the whole business is about making stuff that people want to consume. And there's a layer in the middle, which most people know is the channel in the technology world. And that is the thousands of resellers and people who add services and add value to those products to make them work on behalf of the buyer. Those companies tend to be the default route for most people to buy their technology. And I think if anything, it would be really useful to incentivize and assist that channel layer to do that investigation about environmental impact on behalf of the buyer. So, in the same way you'd ask a Lenovo reseller for a price for a laptop, you should also ask, again, what's the environmental impact of this laptop? Know what ratings that come with in terms of carbon footprint? Where's it being shipped from all the sort of things that informed buyers, mostly corporate buyers are asking at the moment, they should be asking those questions and the channel should be in a position to answer those questions. Now at the moment, I don't think that channeler has a clue where to start.

Will Richardson - 09:03

And going on to the you know what you you've the one company you didn't actually mention just then was apple. And I mentioned Apple because I don't know. And I actually don't know whether it's that people who own Apple are very proud of owning Apple products. So therefore, they're much more likely to be vocal about the fact it's been around for five years or their computers lasted for seven years. And I am but my gut feeling is Apple products that do last longer. That's my gut feeling just because otherwise people who own the Lenovo would be going off my back they may not be as proud, but you just don't hear it enough. So, but you must have embedded energy within making a product. So, although Apple on that and they are actually getting better now as well, they I mean, Greenpeace massively we're on at about five or seven years. ago, and they were very much at the bottom of the list with regards to ethical and environmental, you know, building their machines, but now they have got definitely got a lot better. But that should almost be taken into consideration as well the fact that their computers do last a very long time. But like, for example, a car is a third, a third, a third, a third in manufacturer a third in use and a third and disposal.

Phil Clark - 10:28

Yeah, I think you're right. It's an interesting, so typical longevity of a laptop in a business is three to five years. Yeah. And that's pretty much across the board. I think you're right to say that Apple's products tend to last longer, not necessarily, because their manufacturing process are wildly different. But fundamentally, I think they've got a very loyal fan base, and they know that they're good bits of guy. You know, I don't want to pass judgement on individual manufacturers but fundamentally, you know, that they're, it's a sensible product to use it If the Apple products will support whatever you're trying to do with that piece of hardware, I think the interesting thing is you could then flip that on its head and say if you look at the iPhone, and they bring out a new phone that that iPhone every, every year, and everyone wants the latest one. And so, they Chuck their old iPhone in the bin after a two-year contract, that's clearly not an environmentally good thing to do. And it's, it's not necessarily the manufacturers, they've got a lot of control over this. There is a consumerist view of the world now, where I check my iPad in the bin every two years, I'll get a new laptop every three years. And I don't think anyone's really asking the question. Certainly, if you look in the corporate world, do you really need a new phone? Do you really need a new laptop? And it's you're right? It's a whole different dynamic, but the longevity of a piece of kit, especially in current times where people are potentially a little bit more cash constrained and a bit more environmentally aware. Now I think it needs to go up the agenda, but can you really cope with, you know, that laptop for another two years because actually He's still doing the same stuff. And fundamentally, you're only opening spreadsheets and reading your email. While you're new to Carlos Fandango, super quick, you know, high end graphics card. When you all you're doing is mucking about in Word, it's so it's those sorts of things, I think the consumeristic behaviours are driving a lot of the downside. I think the other thing is clearly all the manufacturers are very much focused on revenue growth and their own expansion as a business. It's not in their interest to allow people to use laptops for more than a period of time because their revenues drop off a cliff. So, bringing out new chipsets, new features, new functions, is all part of their sales pitch. And on that basis, you know, there's a whole industry that is now geared up to sell more stuff, it's just all about consuming and selling more stuff. And without that churn of equipment, we're in a position where people's profit margins or revenues will drop out quite dramatically. So it's a big problem is that the industry is not an ideal place to be supporting environmental footprint, where we need to get to is to change buying behaviour, such as people are more aware of the impact of each of these decisions they're making. And at the moment, as I say that it channels and it manufacturers are not 100% transparent on some of those things,

Will Richardson - 13:20

Or renting it similar to what you know what you do with Office three, five, and a lot of combat with our own software that to you, you're not renting it, but you kind of your service, isn't it?

Phil Clark - 13:29

Yeah. And so, I mean, certainly, renting hardware is enormously sensible. But again, that probably drives me like renting a car. You know, it drives buying a new car every three years. Fundamentally, it's just a different financial model. If you could extend the life of the product is obviously better. And so, it's really just trying to work out how best to achieve that. And I think it’s a lot of IT departments in corporate in the corporate world, where they have a policy that says we're going to refresh laptops every three years. Now is that She asked the question, do we need to refresh laptops every three years that they want. And, you know, again, it's behaviour driven. A lot of the people in the IT world are slightly geeky by nature, I'll put myself in that camp as well. And so, you like shiny new toys, you know, like the latest, greatest gadget. And on that basis, you know, every three years, three years seems like a long time in technology. So how do we change those behaviours to make sure people consider the impact of those policies and those attitudes to try and drive better environmental footprint for the technology? Well,

Will Richardson - 14:32

It's not consumer behaviour. Just it's quite interesting what you just said about, you know, if you own an Apple Mac, it will last you 10 years if you own an iPhone, and the chances are they own both. You're right. They get rid of them every two years or one year, but it's the same person with that same value. And I had an iPad, I've had it now for it's going to be 10 years. It's as good when I got it. As when you know, and so therefore, their iPhones and I know Laura, my other half has got an iPhone that's lasted, God knows how many years. And so, their products still last. So that's funny, isn't it, the consumerism and the difference in that it's that behaviour change as well. So multi levels and multifaceted this whole conversation.

Phil Clark - 15:22

And for the for the non-Apple consumers new laptop users or Android phone. There's a whole different dynamic there. If you're a, if you're a Windows laptop user, you will be familiar with the every five minutes you get an update from Microsoft, which slowly clogs up your machine, which means that in half to three years, you need to change your laptop because you need deep thoughts or whatever the biggest greatest computer is to cope with all of the updates is going to have to process that week. I mean it. So, I think you're right. It's a combined, it's an industry problem. It's not a hardware manufacturers problem, because they're using software that causes a problem. It's a consumeristic problem there's a problem with a channel. So, it says, is trying to work out how we structure that. So, everyone's a bit more aware and a bit more savvy to ask the right questions when they're buying stuff or if they're churning their IT assets.

Will Richardson - 16:16

We've, you've touched upon where manufacturing takes place, Asia and the travel aspects of equipment and that's going to play its parts. How likely would it be that we start to make equipment more locally? I mean, there are nice manufacturers I know of in the UK. And there must be a fair in the UK that would imagine that all around the world in different countries. And I guess it's a bit like a nice shop that is on the high streets that you need to go and visit I wonder how likely we could get that to start to work more again?

Phil Clark - 17:05

Yeah, I mean, the problem we've got now is that all of the major technology vendors are so far ahead of everyone else, you know, for anyone to build a brand new piece of it, that could overtake the major manufacturers. It's almost it's a monopoly split across probably 10 major vendors. So, the likelihood of moving manufacturing, or sorry, a new company, creating a local manufacturing, alternative to your big brand IT vendors is pretty slim, I'd say. Clearly, you know, the manufacturing in in Asia and other countries is driven by a number of factors, labor being one of them, low cost labor, but also access to natural resources and rare metals, which, you know, probably aren't abundant in the UK or certain countries. So, a range of factors. I think, if anything being a bit more sensible about shipping methods and shipping efficiencies would be quite interesting dynamic. You know, we're in a position where, obviously, quite a lot of IT assets get shipped by ship by sea. And that's not quite as bad as shipping by plane. But it's still got an overhead, there must be other ways of doing it. And again, it's all a supply chain question what could we do to make that aspect of the environmental impact of technology more effective and lower impact on the environment? And I think, certainly, you know, if we're looking at this holistically, buyers need to understand that. The problem is if you think about the layers, I just described in terms of the technology supply chain, an end user will buy from a company in Brighton, who's going to sell them a laptop. That company in Brighton has bought from a distributor, who will probably be based in Basingstoke, and they are getting stuff shipped from China. There’re so many layers to the supply chain, that no one feels any accountability or responsibility to announce the impact of their specific area. And so it takes quite a persistent perseverant buyer to actually channel or drill all the way through those four or five layers of supply chain impacts to understand the full environmental impact of the prices they're making, because their contracts fundamentally is with the guy in Brighton, and he probably doesn't know where it came from.

Will Richardson - 19:20

Yeah, that makes sense. So, what can we do? You know, I know, it's a huge question. Well, what can we do? I mean, what have you got any ideas about how we can tackle this?

Phil Clark - 19:34

Yeah, I think I mean, clearly, there's a lot of environmental frameworks out there that we could layer onto the technology industry quite easily, I think. And just the sheer process of, of asking the question will start to drive the right behaviours. I think as you say, there's quite a lot of facets to this that the hardware manufacturing and shipping aspect is one aspect and that's something that is the same with any other product being shipped and manufactured, and therefore, those quickly the environmental impact of that manufacturing process could be quite easily analysed. In the same way that any other product is, I think the broader nuance of technology is the stuff we start the conversation around, it's the impact of not just the manufacturing process, but what people do with that asset. So, we talk about the cloud data centres and how they, those processes impact the environment. And then fundamentally, I think all the data centres in the world currently using 3% of the electrical capacity of the use of the globe. So people should really start to favour data centre providers and cloud providers who you know, have a good Environmental record on usage of energy and when there's a really cool technology has been around for a while, where you know, there are data centres in the Nordics and Iceland that use hardly any cooling power, because they just open the windows simplistically, and let the natural cooling happen that brings the IT equipment back to operating temperature. And it's those sorts of things where people need to think a little outside the box about buying a computer or on buying a cloud service. It costs two pence per minute. That will cost me x hundred thousand pounds over the course of the year. You know, what's the environmental impact of that? You know, am I buying although it might be the cheapest thing in the world, because it's from a well-known retail retailer has got, you know, an IT presence as well. But actually, is there a better way of doing it both an equivalent cost but also a lower environmental impact? Because other companies care more about the environment than maybe others do? Yeah. But I think the key action number one is asking the question, encouraging buyers to ask the question, encouraging the channel or anyone who's in the IT world to be able to answer the question and to ask the question of their suppliers to go right the way through the supply chain. And ultimately, we'll get to the manufacturing process, which is probably the easiest bit to measure anyway.

Will Richardson - 22:05

Yeah, I mean, not a lot of behaviour. A lot of the change will happen through when you see it in supermarkets. I mean, Tesco is, for example, about five or six years ago, were massively hemorrhaging money, that profit margins were going down and down. People were just not buying from them. They, they, you know, they, they were in a downward cycle. And it was largely because they had become so big that every single one of us knew someone in their supply chain, whether they worked Tesco, whether they were a farmer, whether they were in the supply, distribution, with you know, at some point, and they treated their staff so badly and everyone so badly that everyone was went well, I'm not going to shop at Tesco I've got the choice, another one or Tesco. I'll just go to the other one. As easier, and they got a new CEO that came in, and they massively changed everything around, their profit margins are now going up. And it wasn't rocket science. All they did was treat people nicely and just go, actually, we will talk to our farmers and go, we will pair will pay a bit better price and a fairer price. And we will. And that's all they did. Everyone started going, Oh, I remember going and meetings or going to parties and talking to people and it would come up in conversation. And it was Yeah, well, I wouldn't go there. But now it's Yeah. Okay. And that I'm guess I'm using that as an example for how behaviour can be changed within the IT industry.

Phil Clark - 23:49

Yeah, and it's, it's a good example because Tesco is a big brand. Yeah. And in in the IT, like I say there's probably 10 major brands. There’re a gazillion little brands or b2c brands. But everyone knows the big American acronyms that are used to support the IT industry. It would quickly change behaviour if someone said I'm not buying laptop maker x, because they are, you know, spewing stuff into a river in China. And we found out about it because we've analysed the supply chain properly in the manufacturing process. And, and I think the we're just asking the question, in terms of what can we do, we as a buying community and the complex supply chain that supports it just isn't, isn't asking the question and we don't have the reporting capability. We don't have the audit capability to go right the way through the buying cycle and say, Hey, do we need this and be is it the right thing to buy in the context environmental, rather than just commercial attributes?

Will Richardson - 24:54

I wonder if one of the reasons why people why we've never really done it, as People, it's because we really, we're all secretly in love with gadgets. Yeah. And so therefore, we know that actually we need to change our behaviour.

Phil Clark - 25:12

Yeah, this, it affects everyone. I mean, we can sit there and blame individual companies or individual sector sub sectors of the technology well, but in reality, it everyone should be taking responsibility for this. I'm as bad I am one of these people who charges iPhone every three years, you know, shoot me now. And it's not necessarily because I need to, it's actually because the commercial construct of my phone contract says that I should change my phone every certain number of years. So, you know, it's we're talking about fairly profound stuff, but it's not all doom and gloom. And I think the fact that we are even having this conversation and you know, the top down procurement pressure is starting to open people's eyes to some of the impacts of some of these acquisitions in its own right means that we you know, Things are moving. I think all the excellent work has been done by people like Greenpeace and some of the other environmental activists is raising the age to cook the agenda, generically across everyone's viewpoint. With all the COVID staff, clearly IT actually is done a good job, you know, we've, we've managed to keep a lot of industry sustained, because people have the technology to have zoom calls, and, you know, talk without you having to go to the office. And on that basis, actually, the technology that we're using right now, will support a reduction in travel to the office and commute times. So, there's some benefits, but there's a whole raft of things that technology could be used for the positive. And at the moment, there's still a lot of negatives that we need to address by ticking the balance a little bit we could actually make quite a substantial change quite quickly.

Will Richardson - 26:50

Yeah. Yeah. And they, I'd like to just look at the certification and If you are a buyer and we want consumers to buy, is there any Is there any certification or anything out there that kind of says this is an a more environmental product or?

Phil Clark - 27:14

No, I've been in technology procurement world for a number of years. I don't I'm not aware of anything, I'm happy to be proven wrong. But I don't believe there is a an easy to acquire and commonly used metric or standard or certificate that you can pick up and say, right, these guys are, are environmentally friendly. Clearly, there's a lot of ISO, supported green standards, environmental standards, which some of the bigger guys will do, that the issue that we've, we've got in the channel, if you like is a very fragmented world. So, you've got about in the UK, that's about 150,000 companies who claim to be IT companies, according to the owners. So, the bulk of those are very, very small and then If you're turning over 30 million quid, you're in the top 100. So that gives you an idea of the fragmentation. So, in that context, very few of those companies are either had the time or the cash to invest in securing ISO standard environmental accreditation for, for the business they perform. And so, on that basis, I think there is a market for a certificate or an auditing process, which is a quick start job to get to the ISO. And basically, to just get people to ask the questions around what they could be doing to offer more environmentally friendly technology solutions to their client base. Okay, the problem we've got as per this conversation, it's enormously complex, because within that channel layer, you've got potentially manufacturers, you've got people who offer consultancy advice, you've got cloud providers, you've got people offer refurb technologies, and they've all got slightly different environmental attributes and I think the clever thing is trying to tie up someone who's got deep environmental understanding with someone who understand the technology supply chain to get to a position where that package of questions can be answered in a consistent way and scored. So, people start competing you gamify the process. And you know, different providers can get a league table of how environmentally friendly they are. A classic example. Absolutely gets my goat I'm getting on a bit of a rant here. Well, sorry about this mate. But in the IT industry, obviously I mentioned the top 10 vendors that everyone's aware of, generally speaking up until probably this year, they hold annual partner conferences. So all the hundred and 50,000 companies that I talk about the IT companies will jump on a plane and fly to Las Vegas and sit and listen to a load of corporate technology guys talk about how great their product is. I'll get drunk for three or four days they'll fly back in. And so rather than that being a verb event which actually this year had to be largely there historically, it's been the jolly to look forward to in the summer. If you think of the environmental impacts of those hundred and 50,000 companies in the UK, and the rest of them all around the world, being summoned to Mecca, Las Vegas, big hotels, to listen to someone talk about how great their latest iPhone is, then that just strikes me as utterly bizarre, and why don't why should we, if, as a buyer, I would dearly love to be able to recognise the people who don't think oh, maybe I shouldn't go on that plane. You know, maybe I should assess what I'm doing from a travel perspective more intelligently, because the environmental impact is enormous. It's just a, it's just a thing. And that whole culture needs a bit of reassessment, which is why I think we need to start asking the questions.

Will Richardson - 30:49

Yeah, I think, but then again, it comes down to that consumer behaviour again, doesn't it? Because you've got someone that they know that they don't necessarily need to go to Mecca, but they want a jolly away from now, husband or wife, and kids. And it's three or four days away where they don't need to think about anything. And it's an excuse. It's an easier excuse than to go. I'm going to go off kite surfing with a bunch of mates. Because Well, do you really need to work? Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And so, you can see why, why it happens as well. And there, I would imagine that there's an element of suddenness as well, because the people that work in that world actually want to see the light. Well, obviously can't see Steve Jobs now. But you know that what he wants to see these people that they know so much about? So? Because it happens in the medical world as well? Well, I've got friends that go off to conferences in I mean, I've got one friend you go to a conference in a ski resorts, I called him someone like WBA for a week, every year, and he's a doctor, and actually really does sound like a proper conference. And he was justifying it to me. But they go skiing every day. This is the whole thing is around the fact that you can also go skiing.

Phil Clark - 32:21

Yeah, but it's also it's cultural. If you're not there, and also sympathising a little bit with the company on Dogon Bell, if you're not there, you're not either, there's a pressure from the vendors. If you're a real partner of mine, you're going to jump on a plane, first class and get really drunk for five days, because that's how we value our partners. Yeah. How does that work? And so, I think we need to start injecting, questioning into a lot of these decisions. We're picking on this one specific but there's a whole raft of things that we could do in, in the technology supply chain better, where people just rather than sitting there thinking, this is the way it's always worked. We ask the question; do I really need to go to Mecca to listen to someone talk about the latest phone? Do I really need to, you know, fly someone in for a meeting, when actually zoom will do it? Or do I need to buy that asset that's three years old to replace that asset or three years old, when actually I'll do for another two years. All these sorts of things, you know, are just simple questions that we could be asking which we're not because we've always operated like this, largely driven by Consumer ism and the, the need for gadgets. So, it's, there's a big cultural shift we need to take. I mean, there's so many things we could do. And I was talking to someone earlier on about a company I was chatting to last week actually about recycling of hardware assets. And there's a whole industry around asset recycling and making sure you're stripping all the appropriate materials out of those assets. And it's really cool. So the stuff that's going on, again, is a geek, I think it's really clever and you know, they have products where they can use natural enzymes and what they call bio leaching to convert IT assets to the raw materials that are reusable elsewhere. So rather than just, you know, extending the life of something, you're actually extracting the benefit of the raw materials that are in the IT asset to for reuse. Those are things that I think very rarely done. I'd love to know, I have no idea, but I'd love to know what portion of IT hardware ends up in landfill, because people don't know what to do with it.

Phil Clark - 34:29

Like I ran over, sorry about that.

Will Richardson - 34:31

That's right. anyone that wants to ask us or tell us if they know any answers, that'd be brilliant. Come and talk to us podcast at Green element. Yeah, I think we are in a really interesting space at the moment because extinction rebellion Greta thumb Berg. And people on the whole are becoming more aware of sustainability as a whole. And what it is they're buying, we've just either coming out of, or right in the middle of a time in a period of our lives that were stuck geographically in quite local areas. Therefore, that's going to make an impact on people's behaviour and thought processes. It's already seen knock on effects with people with landlords and businesses working therefore, it's unknowing from talking to peers in our industry. Our with sustainability consultancies aren't doing too badly. Because even though we're business to business, people are still talking to us and going we need to do more. So that For, that's a positive change in itself, which means stuff's going on, stuff's going on around. And I think this is a really pertinent podcast for a particular reason.

Phil Clark - 36:11

I think the other thing to consider is that, you know, we've talked so much about the downside of technology, some of the software and automation bits, will have some really interesting changes to society overall, which could bring some really good environmental benefits. We'll see, video conferencing is one very small aspect of it. But that, you know, there's a number of artificial intelligence and automation type solutions where you can switch things off when you're not using them as stupid as that sounds. No, actually, the process of switching something off manually is a bit of a pain. So, you know, there's loads of software products out there that can automate processes to switch things off and on and on. It's so stupid, but that could have a massive environmental impact. And if you think of things like most corporate IT companies, large end IT companies Got their own data centres will leave their computers on all night. If they're not being used to leave on all night, one of the big benefits of using the cloud is that you can automate some of those processes to reduce your power consumption associated with when you're not using the assets. And so, your technology has got a role to play in fixing the problem as well as being the problem. It's just all about trying to find out how to find that balance.

Will Richardson - 37:24

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And so where can we find out more about you?

Phil Clark - 37:30

So, my website is www.embedded-it Or by all means, you have a look at me on LinkedIn, I can't remember my URL because it's a bit long, but I have one of about a billion Phil Clark's on LinkedIn, but if you

Will Richardson - 37:44

Everything will be on the on the page anyway, the podcast page, so absolutely.

Phil Clark - 37:51

I think I mean, in terms of this specific topic, I would like to say I'm a broad-brush technology procurement guy. So you know, there's a lot of things that we consider, but In terms of this specific technology we're looking to embedded are looking to launch over the next couple of weeks the questionnaire that we've been talking about, you know, one of the questions that we should ask it companies that will drive these sorts of conversations. So, look out for that. And obviously, well, we're working with that with you on that anyway. So, you know, ensuring that we can get that message and that discipline out to the companies I'm talking about, with quite an interesting step forward. be interested to see if people's feedback as well, I think that we use a lot.

Will Richardson - 38:29

Yeah. And I think if you're listening to this, and you have any burning questions that you would like to be included within that, it'd be really interesting to hear those because I think it is a crowd sourced type of piece of work because as we have now just discussed for the last 40 odd minutes. It's multifaceted, and the ramifications are huge, but also incredibly hard to decipher.

Phil Clark - 38:55

Yeah, it's a complicated world, but I think it's all about getting the right structure in place, and Less than one question.

Will Richardson - 39:01

Yeah. Perfect. Thanks so much for today. Thank you very much. Good, sir, take me.


Welcome to this week's green element podcast. I'm really hoping that you're going to enjoy this conversation, it's actually a bit different to what we usually talk about where it's all about an actual business. This is about an industry and how we can change that industry. We talked to Phil Clark from embedded it, and he is a he's a fascinating individual that really is trying to embody his character but has one thing to understand more and I'm wanting to green up his industry, and we explore how we can look at the IT world and how we can make it more sustainable. Hope you enjoy it.

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Hi! I'm Will Richardson. I'm the host of the Sustainability Business Podcast and the founder of Green Element. With over 20 years of experience, my team and I can truly help your business become more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Book a free consultation to have a chat about how your organisation can embrace the change towards sustainability.