I’m curious. When IT leaders find themselves stretched as thin as can be now, how can putting yet another initiative on their plate — even one as important as IT’s contribution to sustainability — work? Cutter Benchmark Review Editor Gabe Piccoli made a strong case in his introduction to the recent green-IT focused issue of CBR:
“So much is at stake when it comes to the viability of our planet, let alone our organizations, that it is our responsibility to make green IT and green IS a priority. But note that this focus on viability does not come simply at a cost. This is where sustainability shares important characteristics with the innovation and agility trends we have been covering lately. Sustainability and green IT create significant opportunities for organizations that are nimble and forward-looking enough to seize them.”
This topic is hot — in just one hour this week, Cutter’s green IT statistics appeared here and here. The good news the CBR survey uncovered was that more than one-third of companies in the US, and over half of European companies have a long-term strategy in place for reducing their environmental footprints. The bad news? Those initiatives tend to end with the “low-hanging fruit” of pollution prevention and reducing energy consumption in the IT shop.
Question: Please indicate the extent of your organization’s action on the creation of policies (or guidelines/incentives) with regard to each of the following items.
Gabe closed with a challenge to IT/IS to leverage its strengths:
“While we are making some good progress on pollution prevention and in reducing energy consumption by the IT shop (a bit less when it comes to product stewardship), there is very limited proactive use of information systems and IT to monitor emissions and waste for the organization as whole. In other words, we are becoming more sensitive about better managing the impact of our limited domain (the IT shop), but we have yet to take a proactive stance toward enabling company-wide management. Yes, I can hear the cynics already saying: “Good idea, Gabe. I need more responsibility like I need a hole in my head.” Perhaps, but remember, we are best equipped to take on this job, and to the extent that sustainable practices are good for business, we can take credit for the savings we enable.”
I wonder what you think — is it the case, as Gabe asserts, that IT is capable of improving sustainability practices across the organization? Or is this much ado about something that can’t happen, given the realities of life in your IT shop?