Information technology and procurement report

 

Information technology (IT)

We continue to make significant investment in IT systems which allows us to benefit from technological innovation, improve our ability to meet a diverse range of business needs and in certain cases offer more environmentally friendly solutions.

Key developments in IT during the period:
We invested in telepresence solutions in our Sandton, Cape Town and two London offices. The face-to-face experience provided by this solution negates, in many cases, the need for international travel, resulting in improved energy and time efficiency. This initiative will be extended to our other offices during the next year
We installed new video conferencing (VC) units and upgraded the existing landscape in all our offices which has resulted in a greater adoption of this technology to facilitate meetings. The availability of VC capabilities has significantly reduced the requirement for both local and international travel (which will positively impacted CO2 emissions), while at the same time enhancing the efficiency of meetings
We recently introduced office communications server (OCS) to Investec. The desk-to-desk video conferencing capability of this product reduces the contention on the existing VC landscape, allowing for better utilisation of the multi-person VC rooms
The convergence of voice, video and data facilitates mobile computing. The infrastructure that has been put in place enables a far more mobile workforce. This flexibility enables full and partial ‘work-from-home’ scenarios with the associated reduction in travel or off peak travel arrangements
We consolidated printers through an output management initiative. The consideration here was to enhance user efficiency and flexibility while reducing wastage. Printer configurations were adjusted and the default printer driver is mono duplex, i.e. black and white double sided printing. Functionality such as the auto deletion of print jobs not released by the user within 24 hours and deletion of print jobs from the front panel of the devices ensure minimal paper wastage
A shared services model was introduced to maximise the benefits of virtualisation. Some of the benefits include: effective use of computing resources; consolidation of platforms and benefits of rightsizing platforms; improved deployment and decommissioning times; lower energy usage and a decreased data centre footprint
We introduced a new storage platform that makes use of flash memory (solid-state storage) and offers a number of advantages over electro-mechanical storage
Kensington Mortgages introduced thin client technology which offers an average energy savings of up to 50% compared to a standard desktop PC
The IT division continues to investigate new technologies to reduce emissions and this year saw the piloting of a new lightweight computer terminal in terms of energy consumption, which may eventually replace all desktop computers
All Blackberry devices are recycled onsite and the funds generated from this are put towards our social investment fund.
 
Cost remains the primary consideration when planning new IT initiatives. While certain business units have the capability to increase spend, others continue to remain cautious which calls for a blended group approach when implementing new IT projects. We have invested in a significant number of monitoring tools which will enable us to measure key indicators and provide sufficient management information to make informed strategic decisions rather than rushed tactical ones.

The lack of IT skills in South Africa continues to be a challenge. We have a joint operating model with the UK team where we leverage off a more advanced skills pool specifically in the network and infra areas.
 

Procurement

We recognise the potential for our procurement and supply chain practices to be agents for change in respect of the different aspects of sustainability. We have begun to engineer, in select industries, changed outcomes across economic, social and environmental fronts.

In the UK we made additions to our procurement policy to incorporate both green and corporate social responsible aspects. We have incorporated evaluation criteria into all of our procurement documentation to allow us to measure and demonstrate our intent to procure effectively without compromising the environment.

In South Africa, our procurement practices seek to accord with the black economic empowerment (BEE) requirements of the Department of Trade and Industry’s Codes of Good Practice (DTI Codes) and we have an established process for monitoring and measuring our broad-based BEE procurement efforts. Environmentally responsible partners are key to the procurement process and we focus on sustainability criteria when contracting with potential and existing vendors. Our largest suppliers of PCs and server equipment subscribe to an electronic code of conduct which assists in monitoring compliance across several areas such as environmental impact, labour, health and safety. We always consider the Energy Star endorsement before purchasing equipment.