IT Sustainability is a fundamental part of the Allianz business model
As Global Head of IT Sustainability at Allianz Technology, Rainer Karcher’s role is to drive the decarbonization of the IT operations of the Allianz Group, one of the leading integrated financial services providers worldwide. He is further responsible for the integration of Sustainability according to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into all parts of Allianz.
Rainer will speak at a fireside chat at the CLIMATE TRANSFORMATION Summit 2023. Today we are happy to meet with him to discuss together the urgency of climate action, and the role of digitalization in the successful implementation of climate targets. Don’t forget to book your Summit ticket to meet Rainer at #CTS2023 in May!
IT Sustainability is crucial for the business model of Allianz. We are a digital company – our products and services are mainly digital; we do not have factories or production sites. Therefore, the digital part represents about 30% of Allianz’s greenhouse gas emissions. With the increase of digitalization, this percentage can easily go upwards.
When speaking about the role of digitalization in achieving climate targets, there are two aspects: it can be part of the problem, if we don’t act responsibly, but there is also a huge opportunity that it is part of the solution. The more we get digitalized, the more we can get automated, creating an efficient digital world and reducing energy consumption.
Allianz is a large corporation, with operations in more than 70 countries. So, the chances that there are redundant applications, software or services are quite high. All our entities act independently, and this is why our main goal is become more efficient together. Transparency is where we need to start: We must know exactly which energy is being consumed, where and why, and also understand what we can to do to make things better.
We can gain this transparency once we have a fully automated treatment of data, and with the help of AI solutions we will understand how we can create more synergies and become more energy efficient.
Another principle we apply is ‘following the sun’. We are trying to place the IT systems in a way that there is always renewable electricity available. At the moment, a lot of IT processes are handled at night, and the problem with that is that, if there is no wind blowing or sun shining, you don’t have renewable electricity. So, we are reconsidering all this in order to always allow possibility to have climate neutral solutions.
We do have two main targets: to achieve net-zero operations by 2030 and to reduce energy consumption from IT and communications by 2025 by 20% compared to the pre-COVID values, in 2019.
As long as digitalization increases energy consumption, we can only achieve our targets by a good understanding of how to handle data more efficiently and responsibly.
In procurement, we are facing the challenge of having around 90% of the emissions coming from external third-party partners. This challenge can only be tackled in a close collaboration with our partners. And this is why I think that for Allianz Group the SDG number 17 – Partnership for the goals – is key.
This means we are trying to work together instead of working against each other: there shouldn’t be an approach where we say, “we are the customer, you are the service provider”, but instead we need to find our joint path in a collaborative way. And I have to say, so far this approach works pretty well.
Additionally, we have considered a measurable comparison of the environmental impact for our partners. For example, when it comes to tenders, we now have KPIs in place for measuring the environmental impact of the potential partners by asking them to answer to a certain set of questions, including social and human rights aspects, and evaluating them on a scale from 0 to 10. This indicator is now being considered the same way we used to look at the prices, offering us the chance to choose partners with a similar set of values.
I think the biggest misunderstanding in sustainability is that there is an expert out there that will come and save us all. The truth is what we need is multiple expertise as well as collaboration. So, gathering all existing expertise around one virtual table makes the event so interesting for me. I’m very much looking forward to some new inspiring information and, of course, to also share my own experience and have an open exchange.
Thank you Rainer for the inspiring interview!
Let’s Make Transformation Happen!