The recession is resulting in cutbacks across all projects, but a survey by Gartner indicates that most organisations will maintain the priority of green IT projects.
In December of 2008, Gartner surveyed 620 respondents who had responsibility for, or were very knowledgeable about, their organisation's green IT programmes. Respondents were asked a series of questions about the development of their organisation and IT environment programmes and also the impact of the recession on green IT initiatives.
"As far as green IT is concerned, we anticipate continued focus on projects that improve energy efficiency and save money," says Simon Mingay, research vice-president at Gartner. "Despite the apparent strength of green IT projects highlighted by the survey, for most organisations not looking to exploit the opportunities of climate change strategically, 2009 will be a gap year for green projects lacking a short-term cost-cutting and efficiency focus. Longer term, we believe environmental sustainability will remain an important business issue."
A significant number of organisations, particularly in the US and Brazil, anticipated reducing the priority of green IT projects in 2009. However, in most cases, particularly in Europe and Asia/Pacific, the recession will not change or will increase the priority of green IT projects. There is still some education required, particularly in Asia/Pacific, related to the financial benefits of many green IT projects.
Gartner also asked organisations that had a specific capital expenditure budget for green IT (22 % of respondents), what proportion of total IT capital expenditure this represented. Overall, more than one-third of respondents (46% in Europe, 38% in Asia/Pacific and 36% in the US) anticipated spending more than 15% of their IT capital budgets on green IT projects.
Only 60 organisations (10% of respondents) had no green IT projects at the time of the survey. With the exception of Asia/Pacific, most organisations with no green IT projects at present anticipated addressing the issue. Gartner found that 40% of US and 58% of European respondents were very likely to launch projects in the future, with only 15% of respondents for Asia/Pacific. Additionally, relatively few respondents did not have green IT projects as a result of the recession.
"The broad area of green IT covering areas such as, carbon reporting and offsetting, videoconferencing and green procurement will continue to be a key pillar of IT strategy and architecture during the next 10 years," says Rakesh Kumar, research vice-president at Gartner. "This is because the political and scientific imperatives around the climate change will continue to push governments, international bodies and organisations as stakeholders increase the pressure to focus on environmental sustainability."
For end-user organisations, lean and green should not be conflated, but CIOs need to break down budget silos and consider the wider cost-benefits to the organisation if they are to help the business exploit the financial benefits derived from green IT projects.
"The need to paint cost-cutting as green to make it interesting is gone," Kumar adds. "For technology and service providers, when considering positioning a solution as green, providers need to consider whether it will save organisations money in less than 12 to 24 months. If not, they need to focus on the green benefits within the context of a broader business case for sustainability."