Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hunch confirmed-- CIOs tossing Green IT aside

A few weeks ago I started sharing my impression that Green IT has fallen off the rader of most IT leaders. The Green-savvy CIO of a suburban Philadelphia pharma research firm then told me his offer to present to a regional IT conference was turned down, because "The whole Green IT track was canceled due to lack of interest."

Today, I read in Information Week's 2010 survey that Green IT is "dead in terms of priorities--or at least on life support."

"How else to explain the paltry 5% who cite a 'more eco-friendly environment' as a top 2010 innovation effort," IW continues. "...Companies talk a great 'sustainability' game. It's just that IT teams tend to come at green IT through the cost-cutting door."

Cost-cutting is great, of course. It's a key part of keeping a company in business and thriving. But doing only that, while losing sight of the sustainability advantages of virtualization, consolidation, moving to the Cloud, and the like, means throwing away important benefits.

Top leaders at many firms know sustainability is of growing importance to their firms' survival, as well as to the planet.Many individual employees know it, too. When IT leaders lose sight of sustainability, they risk cutting themselves out of the loop. It's like the 1980s all over again, when IT, then called MIS, let itself become just another service silo inside the out-of-touch enterprise.

By contrast, CIO magazine Executive Editor Elana Varon points out that "CIOs can contribute to developing eco-friendly products." This is green for a business purpose, and it can happen only in an environment that has fully embraced sustainability as a core business purpose.

Here are a few excerpts from that article. You can find the details for yourself at CIO Magazine.
  • At Whirlpool (WHR), CIO Kevin Summers is helping with an initiative to build smarter appliances...All of those appliances on a smart grid are like PCs on a network.”
  • David Kepler, CIO and chief sustainability officer with Dow Chemical (DOW), says customers want more sustainable—and sustainably produced—materials. So IT provides tools for managing energy and greenhouse gas emissions in manufacturing plants, as well as for thinking through how buildings that use the company’s solar roofing shingles connect to the local electric utility.
This multi-year recession and its massive layoffs have left the remaining IT staffs overworked and exhausted. Many feel much more committed to environmental causes than to their own employers, who they are likely to abandon at the first opportunity. Firms can say what they want in their well-funded Green PR campaigns. ITers will hear only the ringing silence of their own managers on the subject.

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