We have dozens of green surveys and reports recently. Here are just two from the last few days:-
They are all marketing puffs for the companies that pay for them, and find independently-produced reasons why customers should buy the products and services from the sponsoring supplier. Don't just listen to me says the salesrep, read this independent report ...
Now here is another survey, courtesy of IBM and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), saying CIOs are asleep when it comes to energy issues. They should jolly well wake up and start saving their employer's money, and go green too. Good heavens, isn't it obvious yet? Buy IBM services, help save the planet, save costs, increase IBM's profit... what's not to like about this?
Not content with this salvo from the EIU, IBM Global Services has issued a report too, likening UK businesses to mules when it comes to responding to environmental issues.
The IBM-EIU report
Anyway, the IBM-sponsored EIU report, 'IT and the environment: a new item on the CIO's agenda?', shows that over a third of IT executives (42 percent) say their firm does not monitor its IT-related energy spending and a further 9 percent don’t know if their firm monitors it or not. Of those that do monitor it, 24 percent have seen their energy consumption increase over the past two years. The report is said to show that although there is high visibility of environmental issues in organisations, few have anything approaching a cohesive strategy for dealing with it from an IT perspective.
More than half of executives (54 percent) polled agree that their firm does not measure the environmental impact of its IT systems and policies — and just one-third (33 percent) say they do. In part, this is due to the lack of visibility about the issue: 64 percent agree that an industry standard on energy efficiency on IT equipment would cause them to change their procurement policies.
When it comes to IT procurement, power consumption is not a significant criterion right now. Reliability is the main deciding factor when buying IT equipment, according to 63 per cent of respondents. This is followed by price (32 percent) and then after-sales support (30 percent). Despite rising energy costs, only 12 percent of respondents believe that the energy efficiency of IT equipment is a critical purchasing criterion. In comparison, 13 percent of executives rate delivery times as being a critical factor.
Most organisations appear to be paying lip-service to green issues. Although two-thirds of executives polled say that their organisation has a board-level executive responsible for energy and the environment, only 45 per cent of firms have a programme in place to reduce their carbon footprint. And of those that do have a carbon reduction strategy, the majority (52 percent) have no specific targets for it, although a small core (9 percent) aim to be carbon neutral by 2012.
The report's editor, James Watson, suggests CIOs are sleeping on the job where energy costs are concerned; "Although concerns about energy efficiency and global warming are now high on the political agenda, the spotlight has not yet been turned onto the IT function. This survey suggests that few firms have woken up to the fact that their IT infrastructure is already responsible for a significant proportion of their total energy costs."
So here is IBM's take on this; Richard Lanyon-Hogg, IBM's green services CTO, said: "There is a growing business need, and an emerging legislative one, for CIOs to look at their own organisations to ensure their IT systems and services are as energy efficient as possible. Recent client engagements and the Economist Intelligence Unit report confirm that despite this many organisations are unsure as to how to measure their IT carbon footprint and bring about sustainable improvements."
IBM says that IT holds much scope for improvement. Despite the current sense that little progress is being made, the IT function is well placed when it comes to reducing its environmental impact. By adopting existing energy efficiency methodologies and technologies, corporate servers and datacentres could cut power use from current efficiency trends by 56 percent by 2011, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. For the US alone, this would reduce projected electricity costs from some US$31bn to US$17bn, providing an obvious cost saving incentive — and also delivering a huge reduction in future CO2 emissions.
Beyond the datacentre, simple initiatives, such as switching off PCs when not in use and minimising unnecessary printing, can improve an organisation's green credentials and save money at the same time.
The EIU had the report's costs covered by IBM and the report is freely available through the hotlink above. The EIU is independent and says it is solely responsible for the report's contents.
IBM Global Services' report
This is called ‘Gorilla Peacock, Ostrich or Mule: How is your organisation reacting to one of the world’s greatest challenges?'
The report states that carbon management needs to be part of an organisation's business strategy. To get started organisations need to determine where they fit into the corporate zoo....Gorilla, Peacock, Ostrich or Mule?
It suggests that UK companies are mules: “While UK companies have been about the quickest to assign responsibility at board level to address the climate challenge, they have been about the slowest to take any actual action, with few UK companies actively putting plans in place to reduce their overall carbon impact. Many are acting like ‘mules’ in this respect.”
Considering that the IBM-EIU report says CIOs are asleep on the job, and that IBM is saying that UK businesses have assigned responsibility at board level to directors who are being ineffective and acting mulishly, isn't IBM in danger of being perceived to be rude about its customers?
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