The eco-design of digital services, everyone’s business!

Digital technology and its impact on the environment: a clear observation

For many of us, digital tools have a central place in our daily lives. However, these remain without weight for the environment and for humans. The figures speak for themselves: according to The Shift Project, digital energy consumption is now increasing by 9% per year.

Our use of digital services is constantly increasing, especially through the use of instant notifications or communication applications that are always running in the background. Another example: the average number of pieces of equipment of a Frenchman is constantly increasing: an average of 8.9 pieces of equipment per person in Western Europe compared to 5.3 in 2016.

Digital sobriety has therefore become a crucial and decisive element in everyday life, because by going from instinctive and compulsive digital to conscious, thoughtful and responsible digital, our energy consumption would increase to a growth of 1.5% per year. .

What is digital sobriety?

The concept of digital sobriety is rather vague. The phrase was nevertheless coined in 2008 by the GreenIT association to “denote an approach that consists of designing more sober digital services and products and moderating everyday digital use”. This approach calls for a change in our habits, especially in the way we design a product or service. This is called service/equipment eco-design”.

The eco-design of digital services, a new approach that combines the environment and digital

When we talk about digital sobriety or eco-design of digital services, we often think of ‘IT service development’. This notion is very often erroneously associated with a single “developer” role within the organization.

However, this is a way of integrating the management and optimization of the resources ultimately consumed in the use phase throughout the production process. It therefore thinks about its use and impact from the design phase.

Indeed, when we build a service, we define screen models, we describe the user’s path between the different screens, we enrich each screen with content… During this phase we follow a logic of functional design, graphics, ergonomics, animation, content, etc. All actors responsible for these parts are therefore called upon to add their stone to the building, with the key word: meeting the needs of the user without excessive quality.

After the design has been completed, the solution development phase follows. In this phase we make the link with technology: development, architecture, choice of technical solutions, hosting, etc. The aim here is to find the best way of doing things by having a repository of good practices on which we can base.

However, there is an important point to integrate from the design stage: the balance between “need” and “performance”. Indeed, it is important to control the consumption of resources that will lead to the future effects of the service designed in the use phase. This control includes measuring resource consumption, which makes it possible to materialize the real impact of our choices and decisions in order to manage our impact on a regular basis.

All concerned about digital sobriety

All project stakeholders are involved in the eco-design approach to digital services and their implementation. Developer, designer, project manager, architects, decision maker… This means that every stage of the design project must integrate eco-design criteria. For this to work, it is imperative that the approach is explained and shared so that it can be fully understood and accepted.

Finally, a green IT approach is not limited to the implementation of good development practices. It is indeed an essential phase, but it remains insufficient. After all, thorough work has to be done on the functionalities, the design, the content, the infrastructure, the hosting. It is the entire ecosystem of a digital service that needs to be taken into account.

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