My market research company Connection Research has developed an index to measure the maturity of an organisation’s Green IT, and we have surveyed thousands of organisations around the world with this benchmarking tool.
The conclusion is very clear. Green IT has gone nowhere for the last few years. It is a nice-to-have rather than a must-have. Ask someone if they think Green IT is desirable, and they’ll say yes, Ask them if they’re doing much about it, and the answer is rather different.
CIOs are as green as the rest of us – which is to say they mostly think we should do the right thing by the environment, but they’re not going to pay good money for it.
Green IT was quite a fad a few years ago. Why has it gone off the boil? There are a number of reasons.
Then interest declines as fatigue sets in, until interest in the technology declines to what Garter calls the Trough of Disillusionment. People say it was overhyped and they move on to other things.
At this point technologies either die or – more likely – gradually start to pick up in usage, if not profile. They climb up Gartner’s Slope of Enlightenment to the Plateau of Productivity. Green IT is just starting to do that now,
The second reason is similar, but broader. Across the world we are seeing many signs of green fatigue and a decline in interest in all things sustainable. The failure of Copenhagen and the rise in intellectually dishonest or just plain stupid or selfish climate change denialism has caused many to question the need to improve energy efficiency.
The third reason is that IT management has many challenges. Budgets are tight, CIOs have a lot on their plates. Every day is a constant juggling of priorities. Green IT often gets pushed down the list – there is always something more urgent, some greater priority.
The fourth reason is the most important. Very few IT departments – less than 10% in Australia, and under one quarter worldwide – include the cost of IT’s power consumption in their IT operational budget.
Common sense tells you that they will have no interest in reducing IT’s power consumption if they are not responsible for paying for it. It’s someone else’s problem.
This is changing. Power bills are going up, and in many white collar organisations like banks and government departments IT is responsible for more than half of all electricity consumption. See how quickly Green IT becomes a priority when the IT department has to foot the power bill!