IT Priorities: more focused on black than green

Summary:Respondents to the 2011 IT priorities survey placed far more emphasis on initiatives to keep their company in the black, rather than focusing on being green. But can you do one without the other?

Respondents to the 2011 IT priorities survey placed far more emphasis on initiatives to keep their company in the black, rather than focusing on being green. But can you do one without the other?

There was an astute observation from the audience at the Sydney launch of this year's IT Priorities survey. We announced that once again, green IT initiatives were low in the list of strategic priorities for IT departments. "Perhaps the IT managers need to be presented with the power bill," someone called out from the audience, suggesting that in many cases, power is one of those amorphous budget items for which no one is really accountable. If you start distributing the relevant costs back to the IT department, the priority might change.

(Credit: Phil Dobbie/ZDNet Australia)

Better cost accounting might help, but it seems, for the moment, that the focus of most businesses is more on revenue than on savings. IT teams are charged with driving better processes and improving productivity, to help with the growth of the business. With such an emphasis, you can see why being green is taking a back seat.

Sadly for the environment, this mentality seems most prevalent in the finance sector, despite the healthy profits posted annually by our banks. Just 17 per cent of respondents in finance said that green IT was a top or major priority, while 80 per cent were focused on improving business processes and efficiency.

(Credit: Phil Dobbie/ZDNet Australia)

This gets us to the crux of the green debate: are we putting the environment before profit? The public sector, which doesn't share the profit imperative, places green IT ahead of any other sector, but, sadly, still places it last in its priority list; 28 per cent consider it a top or high priority — just a little above the average of all respondents.

The lack of focus on green initiatives almost certainly gets down to available headspace. IT teams are, all of sudden, grappling with how to cope with the increased mobility demands of their workforce, and ways to develop efficient means of operation for their companies in the world's new economic environment. The public sector shares these priorities, just a little less in each case, giving it a tiny bit more space for some to raise green IT onto the agenda.

As power bills rise, and some of these other priorities begin to reshuffle themselves, we can expect to see green initiatives become more of a focus. Our audience member's shouted comment notwithstanding, senior executives surely must know how big their power bills are. Perhaps the reason that green IT is not higher on the priority list is because they don't how much they could save. So, maybe the opportunity is there for the savvy IT boss to get more funding by showing how a greener way of operating can help cut costs before they get out of control.

Topics: IT Priorities, Innovation


Phil Dobbie has a wealth of radio and business experience. He started his career in commercial radio in the UK and, since coming to Australia in 1991, has held senior marketing and management roles with Telstra, OzEmail, the British Tourist Authority and other telecommunications, media, travel and advertising businesses.

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