Green IT fails to make an impact, according to research

by Published Wed 15 Apr 2009 21:56
Green IT survey shows woeful return

The first generation of green IT solutions has failed to deliver any tangible sustainability benefits, according to an analyst report.

However, independent research firm Verdantix predicts the latest innovative IT sustainability solutions - just released into the market or in the pipeline for 2010 - will swiftly reinforce the tech sector’s role in supporting corporate sustainability strategies.

“Sustainability and green IT became mainstream business issues in 2007.To capitalize on this glorious marketing opportunity technology vendors rushed to coat existing solutions with a green gloss” said David Metcalfe, a director of the London-based consultancy.

“While this makes perfect sense from a marketing perspective, claimed sustainability benefits were rarely proven. The Verdantix analysis of 24 different sustainable technology categories finds that only 16 per cent demonstrate significant sustainability benefits.”

The findings are based on the Verdantix Total Portfolio methodology which helps decision-makers align spending decisions with sustainability requirements.

By assessing IT solutions across the entire product lifecycle – from R&D; to retirement – the report provides a complete picture of technology offerings that measure or manage greenhouse gas emissions, reduce energy demand or promote energy efficiency, support the roll out of renewable energy, improve climate change risk assessment, cut road vehicle or aviation fuel use and eliminate waste from supply chains.

This cradle-to-grave review of the tech sector’s role avoids a narrow focus on data centres and desktops.

The Verdantix analysis of the total portfolio of sustainable IT solutions indicates that innovative products designed to deliver sustainability benefits will hit the market in 2010.

Key growth markets for the tech sector’s bid for sustainability budgets from 2010 to 2015 include:

Digital smart meters for corporate energy management. In the US and Europe a combination of mandatory greenhouse gas reporting and energy efficiency programs makes digital smart meters a hot sector for corporate demand. Smart meter vendors like Energate, Itron and Trilliant will benefit from growth in industrial, commercial and government sectors.

Carbon management business intelligence. A glut of GHG reporting legislation combined with expectations of carbon prices rising to 40 euros will drive demand from CFOs for granular, activity-based energy and carbon data management. The opportunity for systems integrators like Capgemini, CH2M HILL and IBM will grow steadily from 2010 onwards.

Substitution of video presence for air travel. Telecoms operators like Orange Business Services and Verizon and equipment vendors like Cisco and HP have had two years to learn how to substitute video presence for air travel. From 2010 enterprises will implement video presence as part of a sustainable business process which cuts air travel expenses and associated emissions. The entry of the aviation sector into the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme in 2015 will accelerate demand.

Fresh air cooled data centres. Building new data centres is a slow and costly business – but the trend to move to cooler locations will continue and strengthen. Fears about sky-rocketing data centre energy costs in a post-recession economy, standards like the EU code of conduct on data centres and competition between outsourcing firms to win sustainability credentials will drive activity. Every outsourcer and telecoms firm that is serious about sustainability will need an operational green data centre by 2010.

“Over the last 2 years, despite the noise from high decibel green IT marketing the reality is that the tech sector has only just got out of the starting blocks on delivering innovative solutions to support corporate climate change and sustainability programs,” added Metcalfe. “The market transition triggered by resource scarcity and climate change will create multi-billion dollar growth opportunities for software, hardware and IT services firms.

“But tech sector executives need to stop drinking from the poisoned chalice of green IT marketing and focus instead on the real revenue-generating opportunities.”

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