Green-eyed monster called 'IT marketing'

TGIF! And what a week it has been, one I'd like to call let's-show-everyone-we're-eco-friendly week.

TGIF! And what a week it has been, one I'd like to call let's-show-everyone-we're-eco-friendly week. Green IT, without a doubt, is fast becoming the new buzzword that a growing number of companies want to be associated with.

In the past 10 days, I must have read at least 10 news releases and stories about businesses pledging or being urged to adopt green IT initiatives.

That's not always a bad thing, especially when you think about the melting Antarctic icebergs and erratic climatic changes experienced by various countries across the globe.

Gartner released a statement yesterday advising government CIOs to take a leadership role in driving the adoption of green IT. Andrea Di Maio, vice president and distinguished analyst at the research house, adds that many governments, especially those dealing with more direct or politically-sensitive responsibility for the quality of the environment, are already investigating or involved in IT initiatives that are designed to reduce air and water pollution.

Gartner predicts that, by 2010, eco-friendly issues will take a spot among the top five IT management concerns of over 50 percent government agencies in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Australia.

Hmmm, why's Asia missing from this list?

Some critics argue that developed nations should bear a heavier responsibility to do more, because they use the most resources and contribute most to global warming and climate changes. While that's true, it mustn't deflect any accountability from developing markets, which should be encouraged to deploy new technology and IT infrastructure that are eco-friendly.

So governments and businesses in emerging Asian economies such as China and India, need to start--if they haven't already--thinking about things like energy consumption and carbon emission for every IT project they put together.

And boy, the vendors are sure willing to offer their help. BT Global Services, Intel, IBM and Sun Microsystems, just to name a few, all offer eco-friendly products, technology and services that they're feverishly marketing to customers.

They may have the best of intentions, but IT vendors should be mindful about keeping their eye on the real cause.

Ian Brown, senior analyst with Ovum, said in a research note Thursday that it would "be so easy to be cynical" about Dell Computer's recent pledge to neutralize the carbon impact of the PC maker's global operations.

Brown noted: "While we're sure [CEO Michael] Dell is very sincere in his belief that carbon offsetting is needed to slow down climate change, this is all about marketing.

"Dell is engaged in a battle with Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Sun and others, to prove how green it is. There's no proof that CIOs are actually being swayed in their choice of supplier by the 'green' messaging, but from California to Germany to Australia, large enterprises are starting to take corporate and social responsibility more seriously. That's what Dell is picking up on," he said.

Whether IT vendors are genuine about their desire to play a role in saving the earth is, in my view, immaterial because ultimately, this will still result in the production and availability of eco-friendly technology and products in the commercial market.

At the end of the day, that's what matters most.

The green label could very well be simply an elaborate marketing and branding exercise for the IT vendors, but at least they are helping to create awareness about the severity of the problem.

Did you know that the current level of carbon emission needs to be reduced by 25 percent in order to stabilize the planet's climate changes? And were you aware that US$5 billion a year are spent on powering computers in Asia, 66 percent of which are for supporting systems in idle mode?

Do you turn your computer off after you leave the office for the day? If you don't, perhaps it's time you did.