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You can talk about green until you're blue in the face, but IT needs to communicate the power
Green business initiatives are for the long haul: most users think their company's current green initiatives will impact the business for at least 20 years. They believe corporate green initiatives are substantial and truly matter to the overall well-being of their organization.
But the long-range impact can be negative for IT. Think of it this way. Business folks fund and lead most corporate green initiatives, and almost all of them require significant organizational change to be effective. IT is often doomed to be caught in the crossfire of so-called green plans unless it's aligned with overall business goals.
Research tells us that IT may not be fully cognizant of the far-reaching implications of these initiatives. Green IT isn't just reducing power and cooling costs in the data center; it's about advanced functions such as telepresence, telecommuting, compliance, security and radical business process reengineering. These issues are far more challenging than finding a higher density disk array, and have far more potential to affect the overall corporate mission. Typically, the business isn't fully aware of the impact IT can make in this regard.
For IT, opportunities to apply new technologies that enable and enhance the corporate green initiative include such things as deduplication, server virtualization, overall
Those vendors with service capabilities and a broad spectrum of products that incorporate these features can build very compelling arguments that not only win business, but better align an IT buyer with the business, which is something corporate green enthusiasts should be aiming for.
In a recent global ESG study, 64% of senior business managers say their organization's commitment to green initiatives will have "significant or some impact" on their customers' decisions to do business with them or not. Only 6% believe those initiatives would have no impact. And 82% of the organizations interviewed state they have active or planned green initiatives underway.
Senior business executives are using cost savings from reduced energy consumption as the primary metric of gauging the success of these programs; yet, overwhelmingly, they don't appreciate IT's role in meeting these objectives. We in IT need to use the green movement to close the gap between ourselves and the corporate suits. IT can and should be a major player in this corporate endeavor, not an afterthought.
Server virtualization is consistently listed as the most important technology to reduce data center costs, but that isn't true. People implement the technology, but they don't get rid of significant amounts of their "extra" servers--thus server virtualization can have little or no real impact. IT vendors who are viewed as "not green enough" or who are unable to reduce operating costs will find themselves on the outside looking in, wondering what happened. More IT buyers are putting greater emphasis on operating value when making decisions.
Those IT shops and vendors paying lip service to green initiatives will quickly become a recipe for disaster. Emphasizing how IT technologies can help the business reach its overall "green goals" can lead to success for everyone.
This was first published in December 2008