Green IT – A CFO’s best friend
Green IT has been on the radar of service providers and end users for some time now. Increasing regulations involving carbon reduction, energy efficiency and environmental impact have meant that green IT has crept up the boardroom agenda and is now probably one of the most discussed topics amongst C level executives. Analyst firms have recently been getting their teeth stuck into the issue and this week Datamonitor released a report entitled ‘Can green IT bloom in an economic downturn?’ CFOs are not keen on being put in a position where they have to hand over money in response to meeting government regulations, but would they change their mind if they could see that money making its way back into the coffers, with interest?
Over the past few years, green strategies amongst businesses have predominantly been half hearted initiatives. Organisations have been keen to appear to do something rather than to actually implement an effective strategy. Greenwashing became synonymous with big conglomerates and corporations were found to be making outrageous false claims about carbon neutrality, green infrastructure and other green fingered exploits.
Now however the paradigm has shifted. Greenwashing has lost its impact as stakeholders and the public have wised up to the real issues at hand and are adept at spotting phoney strategies.
Of course, any investment in time or money into the green agenda is spurred on by increasingly tougher government (or EU) legislation and not some altruistic need to save the planet. However, businesses are starting to explore whether there is a return on investment with initiatives which previously would have had CEO’s gritting their teeth as they watched their money go down the green drain. Green IT has become one such area where investment may mean efficiency and cost savings for many firms. The Datamonitor report has highlighted that organisations do not see green IT and cost-effective IT as mutually exclusive. Here is why:
The first area where savings are made is energy costs. Greener technology means less energy is used and the dial on the electricity meter doesn’t spin as fast. This may seem like a small saving, however when you consider the billions of pounds spent in keeping the world’s data centres running, a 10-25 percent energy saving means big bucks.
For vendors, investing into green IT may be one of the best moves they make in terms of winning new business. The majority of public sector contracts have rules and regulations with regards to the green credentials of a potential third party supplier. By investing in green technology, suppliers can make themselves as attractive as possible to green fingered government officials. Private sector end users are also not exempt from environmental regulation.
The Carbon Reduction Commitment is due to come into force in 2010 and businesses of all shapes and sizes will need to be aware of their emissions. Data centre outsourcing will increase as end users look to cut back their carbon by outsourcing it to the greenest suppliers. There is plenty of opportunity for vendors pushing a green USP.
Cloud computing is frequently being considered as a green IT tool. Companies are considering this virtualised route as a way of not only reducing the amount of old and inefficient servers they have, but also as a way of allowing employees to work anywhere and everywhere. Working from home (hotels or pubs are also very popular) schemes are allowing businesses to totally streamline the amount of IT they have and in turn reduce their carbon footprint.
Vendors are offering bespoke cloud computing applications that allow work to take place on a huge scale, meaning thousands of employees are able to work seamlessly with one another without having to switch on the office lights. Combine this with the reduction in emissions as a result of fewer workers needing to make the daily commute and cloud computing seems like an attractive green route.
Of course, all this comes at a price. Initial investment into any new technology is costly and if done without careful forethought can cause disruption to business. During times when IT budgets have been cut, the last thing on an IT manager’s mind would be to spend resources on helping the environment. However, businesses need to thoroughly investigate the ROI opportunities associated with clean technology and properly implemented green strategies. If people can show that being green can bring monetary benefit to a business then CFOs up and down the country will be prepared to listen to a proposal.
Displaying ROI in green technology will benefit both the business and of course the one thing that tends to be ignored in all of this, the planet.