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Expert talk: Sustainable Software in Practice

Join technology architect Sophia Davies and Principal AI Engineering Niels Freier from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) as they discuss the implementation of real-life green software projects. Discover the challenges they faced and their insights on how companies can reduce their carbon footprint through initiatives like the Green Software Foundation. As software engineers, you'll gain valuable knowledge on how green code and sustainable software is becoming increasingly important in the industry and what to expect in the future.

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 Join technology architect Sophia Davies and Principal AI Engineering Niels Freier from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) as they discuss the implementation of real-life green software projects. Discover the challenges they faced and their insights on how companies can reduce their carbon footprint through initiatives like the Green Software Foundation. As software engineers, you'll gain valuable knowledge on how green code and sustainable software is becoming increasingly important in the industry and what to expect in the future.


Niels Freier: Hello, Sophia.

Sophia Davies: Hello. Nice to see you.

Niels Freier: We wanted to take a lot of time today to talk about what we call green software or green code. We say a lot of names around that, and we have more and more, I would say, discussions on this topic. We have a few minutes in front of us, and probably we should start with some introduction. Do you want to start?

Sophia Davies: Sure, yeah. Happy to. So, I'm Sophia Davies. I'm a Technology Architect at BCG and global product manager of our technology capability offering for climate and sustainability. Where I work with clients across sectors on their digital and data readiness for sustainability transformation. And how about you, Niels?

Niels Freier: So, I am Niels Freier. I am based in Paris, and I'm working with BCG too since a little bit more than five years. I have a strong background in computer science in general, but with a focus on data/data science, no more than a few years. I collaborate with people like you on our data sources, and with our clients to be able to put at-scale AI solutions. So, I'm very far from the simple notebook, but when we need to integrate with other systems, to give life to this type of use case to be able to get the value from AI. We mentioned BCG, but can we spend one or two minutes on that because I'm not sure everyone is aware of what is BCG and specifically what are we doing?

Sophia Davies: Oh, sure. So, BCG is turning 60 years old this year. It is one of the most prestigious pioneers in business strategy. It's a global consulting firm with about 25,000, I'd say deep industry and functional experts working on the world's largest companies with the large, sorry, working with the world's largest companies on their business and sustainability transformations. It's also now home to 5,000 technologists and technology experts that lead on digital and product-led transformation for our clients, which is very much where you and I live. Who also design, build, and implement product, services, and even digital ventures, right? But I think coming to the topic of green software in a larger context, last year we launched our global climate and sustainability business. We've delivered around more than a thousand sustainability projects and even launched 30 climate businesses as part of our digital ventures arm.

On the corporate side of BCG, we've been the consultancy partner for COP 27, the UN high-level champion for Climate Action, and chief advisor to the CEO Alliance of Climate Leaders at the World Economic Forum. On the other side, on the sort of climate tech and innovation, we've been founding members of Breakthrough Energy Catalyst, and also the First Movers Coalition. And we were excited to recently partner with Quantis, which I know you are very close to Niels, which is a pioneering sustainability consultancy that looks largely at carbon, but also more planetary boundaries around biodiversity as well. And we're also partnering with SAP on global sustainability transformation projects where we've launched solutions, which we can talk a bit more about potentially, but CO2 AI with the product footprint management module, and it looks specifically at the circular supply chain. But I think what's interesting, and we're gonna talk a lot about this today, is that we're proud of our commitments in BCG as well as we've become...We've got targets to reach net zero by 2030. We're EcoVadis Gold. We're certified carbon neutral. And we're on the CDP list of climate disclosure rating gold. We're doing a lot internally now around our engineering community for green software, which maybe you can speak a little bit more to, Niels, on where we stand there.

BCG's engineering community for green software

Niels Freier: More than happy. So, on top of all what you mentioned related to BCG activities, exactly what you said, we are a big chunk of engineers, now part of BCG, and, of course, we want to be able to ask, working with business stakeholders, but working with engineers because, of course, we like to be able to improve the situation with our job, and in this direction. More than let's say a little bit more than one years ago now, BCG joins the Green Software Foundation. So, in a nutshell, this foundation was created and originated by various actors including Microsoft. The goal of that was we need to put everyone in the same group, I would say, to discuss, put it on the side a little bit, the business potentially competitor mindset, but to establish standard wealth working potentially tools on...We will go back to that a little bit later on.

But we need to be able to work, to collaborate, to be able to first understand what we mean by green software, green code, we will decrypt a little bit of that, and, of course, it's fine to understand what are we talking about, but it's better to be able to act on it. So, we wanted the foundation on BCG, by joining the foundation to be able to push that in the mindset of our engineers because they got...It's a request we have internally and externally, and potentially, by our action, our discussion on this type of topic as of today to be able to raise awareness for other people, potentially the top level of the companies to be first interested in that. Then after that act on it. So, I will elaborate later on, but the key is to be able to take green in general as our KPI.

For example, a project need, of course, to generate value for the company, but in one way is so much better if we can generate value for the company by improving again a little bit the situation we are all on right on our planet. So, what do we mean by green software? If I take the simple, but I think working explanation from the Green Software Foundation, we can define, I would say the role of the foundation on what is green software in a few principles. The first one is, of course, accepting software itself needs to run on some hardware. So, every time you need to write code, to write a program or a food system, you need to take into consideration which type of hardware/system/distributed system your system will need to operate on. Of course, 20 years ago the option was fairly limited, but now we have so many different options, of course, mentioning on-premise cloud, but after that, it's, again, a new landscape of possibilities.

Each cloud provider provides so many ways to implement the same stuff in so many different ways. You need to take that into account, and again we will go back to a few clear examples of that. The second one is, of course, when you pick the right hardware to be able to, if possible, take an account of the energy you'll consume. So, as engineers, our computer science, we know every time we run the program, we execute instructions one after each channel of the CPU. So, not taking, I would say an account, each instruction for consumptions that we deploy too much, but every time we want some data processing, some piece of code, etc. Exactly as we are most familiar to monitor how much time are we taking, what is the amount of memory usage on basically what is the amount of CPU research? From all this information, it's again, very easy to extrapolate the energy consumption.

I am using the extrapolate keyword, that's very, very important. When we talk about green carbon, or marginally, carbon accounting, we want to measure the carbon by any action. Can be an industry action like cutting a car or running a piece of software, all that it's extrapolation. So, we need to accept, and it's not always easy as engineers between you and to accept only extrapolation. We cannot be strictly precise on whatever. It's totally fine. What we want as engineers is to be able to have a baseline. If you know your program is running as of today, on this type of hardware, and you can say per request from my users or per batch of processing, I can know what is approximately the usage of the carbon consumption of my piece of software. After that, you have your baseline. It's super easy to measure, okay, if I am adding 10 times the number of users, it's probably worse, but what is the type of increase?

You can play different scenarios. What if I'm moving on edge, or the cloud, or improvising, etc? So, bear with me, as engineers, we like to be precise, with carbon accounting, it's impossible. It's fine. So, that's a second principle, to be able to measure because if you are not able to measure, you're nowhere to do anything. On that, again, I will go back very quickly but, of course, the foundation, we established a standard. I will not go into mathematical explanation, first, because it's super easy. Secondly, because it's, again the goal was to be easy for anyone to be able to implement. So, I can only invite you to go to the Green Software Foundation website to read the different white papers we publish. You'll see, easy to integrate, easy to complete your baseline, and easy to communicate with other people on that with the goal. On the last principle of the foundation, what we are pushing as BCG, and with all the results is, of course, I would say to be able to step back with what are we doing with a software engineer. As we are taking, as I was mentioning, value KPIs like the cost, the time, and cybersecurity, is my system secure?

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It's an obvious question we need to ask ourselves as a solution. We need to take the green in accounts. And more and more of our clients at the decision level are asking this type of question. I will go back to an example. But basically, we need to retake that accounts to take business decisions. That's a key changer related to a few years ago when let's be honest, nobody was interested in this question. Now, engineers and business stakeholders have that near the top of their minds, and they need to be able to decide, and we need to work with everyone involved in the software community, including the designer, and why I'm mentioning them because we need to change the way we are working with the software. A very simple example, for a few years everyone has been talking about Dark Mode. We cannot challenge a little bit of that till we know what potentially affects that.

Every time we are using a piece of software, we need to take that into account, where we recently because the now, fact of Xbox will automatically shut down during the night, it's so simple. But if you take all the Xbox around the world doing that every night, you are saving a lot of energy. But let's be honest, if I still want to play at 2:00 A.M., I can just touch it and play, so it's not a broker for me as a user. A simple decision, a big result. That's exactly what we want to do with the foundation. But okay, it was a little bit technical.

Importance of green software in the business world

Niels Freier:  Now, if we, again, step back, or if we move a little bit to the business side, I was mentioning, our clients are more and more interested in this type of question. Can you tell us a little bit more, Sophia?

Sophia Davies: Yes, so, I think the setup there was excellent to sort of talk about how I think the ecosystems coming together, right? The engineering community and BCG in itself are part of that more on the corporate side. And I think this is gonna be critical in the years to come because we're a little far away from sort of getting the mandates I guess of like a...You were talking about it, right? Having some sort of KPI, or like ISO standard for carbon and software. I mean, that might come. And hopefully, it will. But we're far from realizing that yet. What I am optimistic about is the appetite now in engineering, and also the business community we need to do something about this. And in the work I've been doing within kind of climate technology more generally, something called EcoDigital is becoming a massive approach that we're seeing at our clients, which is the use of sustainability use cases powered by digital twins, IOT, cloud computing, data platforms, blockchain solutions to develop, you know, technologies for sustainability.

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And this is estimated to be some, you know, $50 billion market growing like 30% year on year, which is very, very promising because we know technology has a huge role to play in the decarbonizing supply chain for example. But I think what's becoming very clear is there's now this need to sort of green the foundation to scale that impact, right? Now, you already started mentioning sort of on the hardware side. If we look at data centers, energy consumption is increasing, like, 10% to 30% year on year, right? So, this is a burning platform that we're facing in this paradoxical situation where we need technology and AI for climate, but it's costing us on the other side. And I think by 2040 the number is now that it's gonna contribute 14% to global emissions data centers.

Now, for a lot of our clients that we work with, a lot of organizations' scope one and two has been key, right? So, internal operations. But now as we look at very digitally mature companies that have migrated to the cloud, for example, a huge part of their scope there is in what you are talking about, right? So, the IT value chain. Could be as much as 30% of your scope three emissions can be related to your software. Now, if we think about industries that are heavy in information processing and data transactions, I'm thinking financial services, industrial goods, and insurance, for example, that's an urgent scenario. So, we're seeing that we need to help companies get off on the green foot if you like, of doing this right first time, and having those tools that I know, Niels, you can give us a bit more information on from the green software side, sort of in the digital workflows, right?

To not hinder the transformation trajectories that are already accelerated, for example, post-COVID, in place. But interestingly, I'm thinking back to a study we led last year with SAP where we surveyed, like, 300 leading organizations across Europe, and only 7.5% of those were doing green software well, from what we measured, which sort of shows you the size of the gap. What I think is more interesting is only 30% of those companies had IT-related emissions targets, right? This is this transparency part, and you cannot optimize what you don't measure, right? So, we're seeing there's this, you know, data inertia of we cannot capture transparency on this scope three sorts of hardware-software emissions, to make these prioritizations and levers that we need to get actual change in the IT org. Now, a lot of this is also because there's been a lack of budget allocation to sort of the IT operations in sort of the decarbonization initiatives, which also shows sort of a strategy and ambition gap, which I think is where on the business side, we can come in and help bridge that.

Green software in BCG’s internal and external projects

Sophia Davies: But what is promising is a lot of the maturity in tech telco and media companies are quite high for setting targets and setting budget allocation for that. So, that is sort of promising given your emissions are largely sitting within those companies as well. But I think bringing it back to like as engineers, as architects in, you know, general development work, I mean, in BCG, Niels, I'll ask you, how are we trying to implement some of this in not only our internal product builds, which we do a lot of but also with clients when we go and do large scale implementation.

Niels Freier: All that is very clear. But again as you mentioned, we have data gaps, as I was saying in the introduction. The key is to be able to measure. That's the starting part of any action, of course. If you don't know what's your baseline, you can use the same wording as we are doing in carbon accounting. You need to be able to measure. And for that, again, we know for a long time, since the beginning of software, I will say we generally know how to measure stuff. Carbon is just a new KPI, a new type of data plan. And we have tools, I will say, for a long time. For example, if you work closely with hardware, you can measure very precisely the energy used by a piece of software, or a piece of hardware, or extrapolate to software.

We still needed to adapt that a little bit and make it probably easier to access. It's, I would say, always the same challenge when you work with software engineers. Sometimes we are so high compared to the hardware. You have a declaration between both. So, we wanted to cut tools/against all that again, that's what we did with the Green Software Foundation. They established a very simple formula to be able to compute the carbon energy or carbon consumption of one piece of software on the...Included that in one SDK. So, it's a free open-source SDK. You can find it on GitHub. We'll provide you with the link. It's fairly easy to integrate that with your piece of software, even your distributed system, etc., to be able to ask or to get on to the very simple questions. For example, as today, as right now, my software is running in this data center, and this part of the world, what is the energy generated for that?

Then you can take that into account potentially to decide to shut down some of the features, etc., based on, of course, business decisions. We don't want to shut everything down, but take that into account. In other scenarios, you can ask this API, okay, I have work I need to do, like let's say, data processing. I know I've already taken one hour, and I can operate it as always as the end of the business day, starting at 6:00 P.M. or 8:00 P.M. whatever. But the result is expected the next morning, and I don't have any user dependencies. So, let's ask this SDK, what is the best timeframe in this part of the world for this workload? You just asked the SDK API that will give you the best timeframe will be between 2:00 AM and 6:00 AM, fine. We have all the tools to move the workload to this type of window.

These types of tools, and I would say mindsets to think about it, we are leveraging that more and more as part of what we develop internally at BCG. Because we are developing products on the values component to be deployed with our clients, and when we work directly with clients on their solution, again, we try to prove this type of ID. Most of the time they are very happy. We say to them to ask themselves this type of question and to take that into account. For that, of course, we work with the Green Software Foundation. Inside BCG, we are working right now on a plugin to be able to, in one line, get this type of metrics out of your Kubernetes cluster. For open source not yet available. And, of course, something I want to mention with the Green Software Foundation, is we very recently publish a training with a way to test yourself, sponsored by the Linux Foundation.

So, again, we will share the link on that. I can only advise you, or let me rephrase, I can only push you to pass it. It's easy. Two hours of your time, including the preparation. It's not technical. What I mean by that, is you don't need to be a very software engineer, you just need to be a digital, same mindset, to be able to pass it, and you will learn the basic of everything we described today. That means, what is carbon accounting? What is green software? Or we can combine the two activities to just be able, again, to think about it as we think about those topics, to take that into account, and hope to improve a little bit.

Sophia Davies: Indeed.

Implementing green software in real-life

Niels Freier: So, again, do you have like maybe a clear example of what we did because now we said, okay, in the business we can do that? A lot of stuff is moving. From the tech point of view, a lot of stuff is moving. Can we spend maybe one or two minutes or more on one clear example of what we did with one of our clients?

Sophia Davies: I think maybe I'll take the angle around the measurement inertia, right? So recently, for a global insurance provider, we looked at how it would produce kind of their 30% footprint to IT operations. What we did was we tried to kind of instill a way of thinking, and kind of defining priorities across their technology portfolio. So, I think coming back to the approach we want to lead on, it's very much sort of taking a value chain view when you look at baselining your IT. So, for example, we took all of the kinds of...We looked at an initiative view from everything, from technology sourcing, that they were doing with like SaaS providers through to their infrastructure operations, which you spoke a lot to as well, Niels, on, like, the user behavior side, through to like development data management, and then also things like decor, right, and e-waste management.

But what was important here was getting to, like, the ability to sort of baseline where they're at, and where they need to kind of put their strategic initiatives towards. So, we did like a spend base method to estimate that software footprint. And we use the annual IT spend, for example. We clustered that into different categories, which we could then map to different industries, and that enables you to sort of, you know, multiply by your emission factor, and then actually see where, you know, the most priority footprints are. And I think that approach, and we can talk about this in sort of an absence as well when you're trying to rationalize your software based on that, is kind of where the quick wins are. So, for us it was identifying those targets, evaluating the specific improvements within each part of the value chain, and then actually testing and validating with what we talked about, like, best-in-class architecture principles are often applied in these contexts, right?

I think that another promising thing is good architecture is normally green architecture or green software, however, you wanna look at it. And then we kind of set up a way of continuously improving on that kind of pipeline of priorities, where to kind of improve across the tech stack, and then how to measure the uplift, which we used to sort of like a simulation-based approach. I wanna say, like, it was like a simulation dashboard that could look at some of the levers you're pulling and the improvements you're making in the software and then look at actually the uplift. And I know you did a similar case as well. You led a similar case in aerospace and defense, which I think to reuse some of that as well, which maybe you can share as well, Niels.

Niels Freier: Yes, happy to share a little bit of this example. But first, I just wanted to go back to what you mentioned, green architecture is good architecture. I have this model too like green code is good code. I think that summarizes why I'm passionate about these topics. Let's be frank because, again, I love good code, I love good engineering, and by doing that, you can be proud of what you're doing from an engineering point of view. And if you do that intrinsically without more effort, you will be greener. If you improve the performance of your code, of your system, etc. So, it's all beneficial, and so, you can enjoy making it happen. And that is very interesting, I would say, for any interested people, you don't need to be deeply involved with all this green transformation. You just need to be passionate about what you want to do as an engineer.

That was a small, like, message on top of it. But it's really what guides me personally. But to go back to what you mentioned, it's a case we did with one client around the world. Because you mentioned the industry, so, of course, I cannot be precise with what we did, but it's more the learning we got from this type of case. To summarize, we were approached, not at all by the engineering team and stuff like that, but by the top level. They're providing, I would say, a large piece of hardware in the transporter industry and this type of stuff. And their clients are asking them, starting to ask them, what is the footprint carbon of your product? Of course, from an industrial goods perspective, we need to build, it's physical goods, but no, we are more than aware, we have digital everywhere.

So, if you buy your car or whatever, you start to have digital everywhere. And specifically in our industry, we know stuff evolves quickly, but you need to replace value species or parts, etc., or just the software, we need to upgrade it over the air, etc., etc. All that has a carbon cost. If you want to dispatch, upgrade over the air, in all your stuff around the world, that's a huge impact. So, their client is very interested to know, why. First, because, of course, it's good, but because they need to, but that's as part of the competition. So, if you need to buy from one provider, let's say a car, but it's just one example, of course, you need to take that into account because at one point we know the regulations, the tax, etc., are moving forward, and we evolve to take that in accounts. So, they need to prepare, they need to think ahead 10 years or more in the future.

So for that, our client was requesting us to brainstorm about it. Okay, we are providing digital solutions for our physical goods. Till now, we never took the time to think about it. For us, it was not at all in our other...We don't care. We put the software in the hardware, we deliver it on...There we go. Now, our clients tell us if we don't take that into account if we don't try to improve in this area, we will lose the market. So, of course, we have the monetary pressure, and we want to improve in that, and we work in collaboration with this company around the world. And we did a few different path projects. The most interesting one was the simulation engine. So, we had mentioned digital twin to use, of course, the nice buzzword. But that's what we did. We tried to replicate all the products that are catching, with all the digital parts of it, and we run so many different simulations to find the base to scale.

I will say, we discover the most obvious one. You should shut down the hardware during the night. Yes, okay, let's not mention that. It's abuse still. Please, we should do that more often. To the other one, for example, do we need to keep all the features on all the time? Let's take an example, I don't know, you have a camera filming in 4K all the time, and you are running a lot of stuff on GPUs for computer vision, whatever the business case. We are doing that, the industry is doing that all the time. Do you need to analyze every frame, every second all the time when fundamentally, you are monitoring, I don't know, parking of a supermarket closed during the night? Still, whatever the reason behind that, we are running all the computer vision every night without any reason. It's stupid. It's simple. It's not a software issue.

We say just to brainstorming discretion, we should have, or the client, or whoever should have that, but we finally realized, by, again, monitoring the system, we can extract this type of pattern. Okay? The consumption of the GPUs is always the same, seven days, 40 hours continuously. But why? The business case, when we generate the value is only during the day, the working hour. So, let's shut down this bad type of system. So, again, simple ideas can have huge impacts. Again, when we work with large corporations, we are running stuff, hardware, software, and digital services all the time around the world. So, it's one example of what we did. What is very important is, of course, it was motivated by the engineers. They wanted to improve, to lower the impact of their solution on the world. But in one way, and was the first time, from my point of view, at least personally, when it was requested by the business stakeholder at the top of the company.

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It's where I realize business is changing. Till now, in all companies, engineers and other people are more and more interested in the impacts personally of their company on the world. And that's good. Of course, everything is starting from that. But now again, the world is changing. Companies by themselves start to evolve because they need, and because I will say the critical mass of their employees, our clients are pushing in this direction. So, what can we do as engineers? We can do a lot of stuff, not only by coding in a better way, green code is good code, but by just taking that into account in the experience/usage we are doing of all these digital services, and so on.

Sophia Davies: Absolutely. And I think what you resonate with...What you're saying has really resonated with me on, like, the product management side, right? I mean if we think about the digital products and services we build as well. Typically, the way, you prioritize use cases in that context, is you do something called DVF, which if you haven't heard of is like desirability, viability, and feasibility. And we've got some teams internally that are trying to challenge that and sort of come up with the SDVF framework where sustainability is on a par with user desirability, business viability, and technical feasibility, which I think your example there, speaks to, right? Why that might also help engage, you know, bottom up, top down. So, it's interesting to reflect on how that can sort of drive something closer to, you know, sustainability is like a key KPI in some of this.

Just as we're talking as well, I'm always interested in the conversation around sort of, you know, the cloud paradox as well of a lot of clients still, have a kind of a hybrid setup where they're on-prem, and, you know, some are still migrating to the cloud. It's also interesting to think about how that obviously can be a bottleneck in some of your, like, high server density requirements, right? We know that managed services tend to be more efficient because the cloud, you know, the big hyper scalers are doing a lot on their side, but I think where they're coming unstuck is it's not always like full transparency, right? Particularly when we look at things like a lot of the cloud providers have, you know, the calculation indexes, which they can share and we've integrated into a lot of the estimates that we've done. Though not always at the hour-by-hour rate, are you getting that 100% renewable? So, there is a nuance there, which we're both aware of. But also it's how can you, you know, estimate what your on-prem mix is as well with that utilization factor. So, I'm just curious to pick your thoughts of like when we're trying to expedite, you know, green architecture, a lot of it is, you know, through public cloud, but our clients are quite far off sometimes moving into that mode, which can be a bottleneck.

Niels Freier: It's always very difficult and, of course, that's why we're working with each client based on the use case. But I think that the key...The very simple formula we try to apply, I think it's to measure the impact of the use case. Whatever the industry, whatever the technology, whatever. Again, like in software engineering, it's worse to try to improve too quickly. You'll just generate very technical depth on whatever. You will need to be able to size and sell the value you can generate from that. If it put a small use case, you have 10-user experiments because it's not a critical report or a very limited surface report, I will be honest, who cares? And we don't have time for that. We need to find bigger stuff. And again, for example, with B2C action, it is changing its size of it. The small improvement of one cycle of CPU if you target millions of users can have a so big impact compared to that.

So, I don't have a perfect answer, but what I try to do it's, again, to use all the good practices we have in joining mindsets to think about that, to try to size a few different buckets of improvements, or to take them one by one, order by the biggest one first, of course. And by the way, just mention it again, because, on the Green Software Foundation, we are working in this direction. We are catering to all the green patterns. We call that basically in this type of situation, the favorite way, the best way probably to prevent this type of system is by combining this other. So, it's, again, it's not a silver bullet. I don't believe that. You know it, but by leveraging our experience already in application with other KPIs like cost, if we talk about the cloud, fine ops, in one way closely related to carbon ops, I don't believe that's even a keyword.

Sophia Davies: Maybe we can use carbon ops for, yeah, what we're doing.

Niels Freier: But all that is closely related. So again, by our actions as engineers, architects, and designers on user experience, as you mentioned, we can improve the situation. And again, we are more than motivated to do it, and now all the bigger portions are moving in our direction. So, I'm very positive about the future.

Sophia Davies: That's very good to hear. And I think that's a good articulation as well of some of the patterns like, obviously, the green software is kind of leading in the ecosystem. But just reflecting, I think a huge part of it is quite similar to like when we look at tech for sustainability use cases in general, like the ability to have that kind of performance management and observability, right, is critical. And I think even more so in the engineering space is having those monitoring tools for developers just in the workflows. So, I'm excited about what we're doing in this space, and how we're bringing that in-house as well. We started scratching on the surface of the CSO versus CTO kind of partnership when it comes to these issues. And a lot of the kind of advice in the community is that, you know, the best practice would be to have sustainability aligned with your service level agreements, right? In your like best-in-class architecture principles. But I'm interested to see and pick your brains on, like, how you see this going forward. Is this gonna be like sustainability's gonna be a key KPI? And how do we at the kind of C level as well start kind of making the right inroads to getting a more rounded view of, you know, tech and sustainability in general, both green software and the opportunity for digital.

Taking action for a greener digital future

Niels Freier: So, I wish, of course, to be able to have this type of KPI at the same level as others. Is that soon? I doubt, it for a lot of reasons, but I think it's okay. Every time you work with SNS, you expose public SNS to your client, and you need to have the internal SNS, the SLOs, etc., you manage with your team. That's part of what are we trying to do in the internal project, or with our client. So, it's like no binary. At one point you can take that into account, and just, again, take that into account in the reflection, do we need to improve, or do we need to do these new features? Let's again size it first. So, we are always going back to that. In the long run, I believe at some point that will be more and more integrated, again, because of the world's evolution.

First, we have no choice. I think now everyone start to be aware of that, at least I hope. And because again, world, as the financial world evolves. So, the government, the financial institution, etc., are moving on that. And we are seriously taking into account, some of the KPIs like again, cyber security, which was not always a priority, let's be honest, for a lot of people until recently. We needed to have a lot of experience with leakage, etc., for, I would say, people not directly involved with cybersecurity to be interested in that. Because now they know, for example, GDPR in Europe, if you have a data leak, measure data leak, you will have penalties, you will be in front of the public. You need to explain everything. So, I sort of call that the shared effects, but it's working. So, if we succeed to push, I will say the subsidy at the same level, yes, hopefully, we'll improve. And again, it's virtual...It's a good cycle because engineers and everyone, I will say in the companies want to push for better security, and to be more sustainable. So, now everyone will work in the same direction.

Sophia Davies: I share in your optimism, and also the size of the challenge. It's something we're gonna enjoy in the years to come, I'm sure, pushing this one into the norm. Okay, so call to action. I think maybe there's something to say about building more affiliation with the Green Software Foundation going forward. That's something we're trying to do. But, NielsI you are sort of helping steer that in the ecosystem. So, what would you recommend that, you know, everything from small startups to big corp, to the engineering community, do in this space?

Niels Freier: I think what I tried to share during all this discussion was, of course, the decisions as action need to come from the top. And people are moving to that, but in one way cannot be only from the top, cannot be only from the bottom of the companies. What I mean by the critical mass of employees. Still, we are a powerful force, and we need to take that into the account. So, the first move, as I said, was please explore what are we doing with the Green Software Foundation, or any user movement going in the right direction. Let's be open to that. And, for example, to pass the training. So, we will share the links. You can be training for a few hours, or two hours to have a very clear understanding of what we mean by carbon accounting and apply it to green software. And again, a few easy decisions to take into account in all your future projects. You don't need to have a Ph.D. in green, whatever, etc. You just need to apply a few concepts. We will all improve if we all work together in the current situation.

Sophia Davies: Yeah, and just on that note, we've had a lot of our designers and product managers in the BCG community express interest in the certification. So, it does speak to anyone in kind of the digital community. And I think that's key is it's not just for engineers, it's good to have aptitude and sensitivity to this for the future of digital products as well.

Niels Freier: Exactly. At BCG, in all the doers, the engineers, the designers, and whoever we say people involved with digital, we are pushing this training. And we hope the goal will be, of course, to have 100 people certified by the Green Foundation in this area. And we truly believe any company can do it. So, as a company, or as an individual, please again, pass this training, share it on LinkedIn, etc., communicate around that, and believe me, the situation will improve by small action a little bit everywhere.

Sophia Davies: I agree. Pleasure talking to you, Niels. I always learn something when we have these conversations, so thank you for your time.

Niels Freier: It's always...

Sophia Davies: And there's lots of work to be done, but I'm optimistic that we can make a real impact.

Niels Freier: Yeah, we can see it's never too late. So, let's start right now.

Sophia Davies: For sure. Thank you.

Niels Freier: Thank you very much, Sophia Davies. Have a nice day.

Sophia Davies: You too.