Green IT evangelists, go forth from the data center

This headline sort of smacked me across the face this morning, because the question seemed so counter-intuitive. After all I've been writing about this topic for something like three years now (yes, this blog will be three years old in July): "Does your CEO care about Green IT?

This headline sort of smacked me across the face this morning, because the question seemed so counter-intuitive. After all I've been writing about this topic for something like three years now (yes, this blog will be three years old in July): "Does your CEO care about Green IT?

That's the query poised by Forrester analyst Doug Washburn here on another blog here posted on ZDNet.

It's not so much that CEOs don't care about green. Actually, myriad surveys indicate that sustainability and environmental issues are now perceived as strategic differentiators by many companies. In fact, 93 percent of this CEOs cited in a recent report by Accenture and the United Nations Global Compact view sustainability as fundamental to their operational mindset.

The problem, Washburn suggests, is that not enough CEOs really seem to care about IT. Forrester's scrutiny of annual reports by major global companies found that only 16 percent of them specifically mention IT as part of their green strategy. (I'd be willing to bet that some portion of that cited percentage is high-tech companies, and therefore sorta biased!)

So does this mean you're working toward a lost cause? Not at all. Washburn suggests that IT managers leave the data center and get out into the organization to preach IT's green virtues.

I'll second that suggestion and add my own twist: Focus less on green and more on business sustainability.

Use your peers in "business" roles to show your CEO just how integral technology can be in the larger green movement that your company is doubtless supporting. If you can show how vital videoconferencing is, for example, in helping reduce your company's carbon emissions while at the same time dramatically reducing travel expenses, someone will listen. Or if you can demonstrate that attention to energy efficiency will allow your data center to scale with your business, rather than becoming a business inhibitor.

Neither of these ideas is new, really. But chances are the CEO is more ready to listen now than a year ago to ideas about how to solve some pretty profound problems in the way we run businesses.

I wouldn't necessarily put the words "green IT" in your pitch to upper management. But by highlighting how effective technology can be in helping your company reach certain sustainability goals, you definitely can help the larger cause of IT within your company.

In fact, sustainability might just be the thing that gets CEOs to finally realize that technology shouldn't be an afterthought in the process, it should part of the business process.

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