Midsize Companies Invest In Green To Save Some Green

A study released today by IBM has found that most midsize businesses are interested in green IT initiatives in order to reduce their use of electricity -- with a No. 1 goal of saving money.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

March 4, 2009

3 Min Read

A study released today by IBM has found that most midsize businesses are interested in green IT initiatives in order to reduce their use of electricity -- with a No. 1 goal of saving money.The global IBM-sponsored study (.pdf) of midsize businesses shows that most respondents have initiatives underway that will reduce the environmental impact of their information technology. Almost two-thirds of all companies say they are now, or are planning to within the next year, adding virtualization technology to their servers, consolidate storage systems, or retrofit their server rooms.

So are all these businesses a bunch of tree-huggers? Not even close -- controlling cost is the strongest factor driving green IT. The reasons most often cited for undertaking environmentally friendly IT projects are decreased electricity use, followed by decreased consumables use, increased features and functionality for the business, decreased future operational expenses or investments, meeting customers' demands, and getting credits or rebates from local utilities and governments.

"If a project is green for the sake of being green, it wouldn't be ideal for the customer in the current economic situation," Marc Dupaquier, general manager of global midmarket sales for IBM, told me.

Key findings of the study include:

Virtualization: Initiatives with a clear-cut business case and plenty of evidence for cost savings are popular. For new initiatives to gain acceptance from stakeholders who may be skeptical, a clear case for cost containment, savings, or other business benefits must be made.

IT Recycling Gaining Traction: 56 percent of the companies surveyed have completed or are implementing outdated-hardware recycling programs. Approximately 23 percent of IT departments plan to adopt IT equipment recycling and energy measurement practices within the next year. Environmental Goals Are Most Often Met Or Exceeded: In 65 percent of all implementations, organizations' initial goals are met or exceeded.

Travel Reduction -- It's Happening Now: 50 to 60 percent of North American businesses are up and running with telecommuting and virtual-conferencing capabilities.

Business Versus Environmental Benefits: The concept of going green has generated a lot of hype among companies interested in realizing business, environmental, and corporate reputation benefits. Green IT initiatives, in particular, allow businesses to reduce their carbon footprint while also reducing costs. Interestingly, when respondents were asked to weigh the importance placed on business benefits against environmental benefits, the split was approximately 60:40 in favor of business motivators -- both before and after the implementation phase. The slight slant toward business motivators substantiates the common sentiment among companies that green IT initiatives must yield financial returns in order to get the green light.

The last point has not escaped Dupaquier, who said, "The way we need to market green IT is to focus on the fact that it's a way to save money in a tough economic situation." And owing to the study, he said that IBM has a number of areas it will focus on, including:

  • Server virtualization and consolidation.

  • New offerings for storage consolidation.

    Products that let businesses collaborate without having to travel.

    Security, backup, and recovery for people who don't work in the office.

The study was conducted by Info-Tech Research Group, which surveyed more than 1,000 IT executives at companies with between 100 and 1,000 employees across industries and in a dozen countries.

More From bMighty: How To Take Your Business Green

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