Green IT Must Look Beyond Cost Cutting

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Businesses are pushing ahead with efficiency projects, but they must not forget  Green IT jobs like carbon management, before regulations force them, says Gartner’s Simon Mingay.

A recent global survey of over 600 organisations carried out by analyst firm Gartner found that, despite cutbacks across all areas of IT spending in response to the economic downturn, most organisations will continue to prioritise green IT projects. But they will not do so out of any concern for the environment.


eWeek Europe followed up Gartner’s Impact of Recession on Green IT Survey, by asking its author and senior research vice president, Simon Mingay why the recession is not good news for green IT.

Referring to the survey findings, Mingay said: “I’m not particularly surprised that green IT projects are holding up better than most. That’s primarily because the reality for the majority of organisations is that the motivation and the catalyst was always about money. And the environmental benefits highlighted by the vendors were largely incidental.”

So, the fact that these types of projects projects, which are mostly about saving costs, will continue during the recession is perhaps no great surprise. “The nature of a lot of these programmes are that they are quite quick in terms of payback, and in some case are measured in months (but most are measured in a timeframe of 12 to 24 months), and most are low risk,” he added. “You’re almost certainly guaranteed the savings, so it’s not surprising that seems pretty attractive in a recession.”

Disconnect between sustainability, green IT

In other areas of the survey, Mingay said he was surprised at the number of organisations who are starting to take the issues of sustainability a lot more seriously: “Around about a third of all the organisations claimed to be taking a fairly aggressive position on this issue. And that was true in Europe, the US and many parts of Asia-Pacific. I’m sure, had we asked the same question 12 to 24 months ago, there would have been substantially fewer organisations doing so.”

“The key thing here is that those programmes that would usually come under a ‘green IT’ banner and are going to save money and avoid cost in the next 12 to 18 months, will be launched. Only they won’t be painted as green,” continued Mingay.

Meanwhile, he says it is “frightening” how few organisations are moving on other green iniatives, even ones which will be required of medium and large organisations, such as carbon management – that is, the monitoring and tracking carbon emissions across the enterprise.

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