The majority see data as the key to sustainability

According to a new study by Digital Realty, a large percentage of consumers believe that data is important to greater sustainability. More transparency would promote willingness to share data.

A majority of consumers recognize the importance of data in transforming sustainability: More than 75 percent see the potential to advance sustainability by optimizing data-driven processes. That’s what a current consumer survey by Digital Realty in partnership with consultancy Concern shows. The aim was to find out if the commitment to sustainability can give the younger generation (Gen Z) a positive push especially for digitization and data use.

Gen Z sees an urgent need for transformation

Overall, the majority of study participants see a high level of urgency for an ecological and social change towards more sustainability: 57 percent of respondents are of the opinion that there is a need for action here. Gen Z highly values ​​the urgency of transformation, but at the same time has the lowest trust in technological solutions.

On average, respondents have high confidence in technological and digital innovations. At the same time, the majority recognizes that their quality depends on their implementation. In particular, respondents with a very high level of digital proficiency see potential risks as well as advantages: more than 63 percent agree that there are many areas where technological innovations can become a challenge if implemented poorly.

The importance of data, on the other hand, is recognized by respondents for almost all key sectors – be it medicine, energy supply or transport. Acceptance is directly related to understanding that the data provided can also create opportunities for improved processes, for example with leaner processes and fewer errors. Over 75 percent of consumers surveyed see the potential to advance sustainability with data-driven process optimization.

One of the aims of the study is to map the connection between digital competence and the assessment of data benefits. Although digital competence is an important indicator here, participants who are less digitally savvy also show an optimistic attitude towards the possibilities of digitization.

Transparency promotes willingness to share data

Therefore, about half of the study participants are generally willing to provide data for greater sustainability. Acceptance of data-driven models – such as in medicine or energy supply – can be significantly increased with appropriate measures for greater transparency. This can be achieved, for example, through clear communication of data benefits or anonymization techniques. With transparent communication, consumers with different digital skills can be reached almost equally. Overall, there is a strong interest in information: nearly 80 percent of respondents would like to be informed more about the use of data for sustainability. What is particularly important for respondents in this context is who has access to the data being transmitted, followed by the question about technical measures data protection.

“With this study we can show that the huge sustainability potential found in a data economy is seen and potentially supported by consumers,” said Volker Ludwig, Senior Vice President and Managing Director Digital Realty DACH. “It also shows that there is a lot of interest in more information on the subject.”

For the consumer study, around 800 consumers from Germany were asked in April 2023 about how the added value of data can be used to transform sustainability. In particular, it should reflect the opinion of younger consumers and the sample was reported accordingly. The survey was conducted as an online panel with the aim of focusing on the perspective of users of digitally innovative solutions.

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