IBM was presented with the Green IT Initiative of the Year award at the fifth annual CNET Networks UK Business Technology Awards on Monday.
The technology giant was awarded the prize in recognition of the work it has done to promote green issues via its Project Big Green initiative, aimed at improving the efficiency of data centres.
However, the judges — made up of industry experts and journalists from ZDNet.co.uk and silicon.com — awarded IBM the prize in the hope that the company would use its position to improve the extent to which the IT industry is really embracing green technology.
"As one of the stalwarts of the IT industry, IBM has the scale and muscle to be able to effect real change when it comes to green issues such as sustainability, lowering carbon emissions and the other facets of the green agenda," said BBC world affairs editor John Simpson, who was compere at the awards.
IBM claims to be redirecting $1bn (£496m) per year to green technologies and has mobilised a team of 850 energy-efficiency experts to help companies tackle the issue. However, other companies have been slower to act, and the judges noted that real change could only come through industry-wide co-operation.
"New to this year's awards, The Green IT Initiative of the Year proved to be an extremely emotive category for the judges. By recognising the progress made by IBM so far in this area, it's hoped that the organisation will use its influence to drive through the tough changes that must be made across the whole industry," Simpson added. "Only through co-operation will we move beyond the realms of mere 'greenwash' to rebuilding the industry to truly embrace sustainability in all its forms."
Other winners at the awards included Tesco IT chief Colin Cobain, who scooped the CIO of the Year award.
The retailer's chief information officer fought off strong competition for the award from a shortlist including Neil Cameron of Unilever, Trevor Didcock of the AA, Simon Jennings of Oxfam and David Lister of Reuters.
Other innovative users of technology were honoured at the event, run by CNET Networks, publisher of ZDNet.co.uk and silicon.com.
Liverpool Women's NHS Foundation Trust won the Public Sector Technology Project of the Year award, with its Building a 21st Century Enterprise Infrastructure project, against a tough field including organisations from Birmingham, Devon, Durham and Humberside.
In the financial services category, online lending marketplace Zopa won Technology Project of the Year for its Consumer Credit Act contract-signing system, beating off competition from more established heavyweights, such as Credit Suisse.
The award for Retail and Leisure Project of the Year went to Betfair for its work on the Flywheel project.
The winner of the Outstanding Contribution to the UK Technology Industry award was silicon.com columnist Peter Cochrane, recognised for his contribution to the field of international communications.
ABN Amro's London Message Hub Project was the winner of the IT Services Technology Project of the Year, while iPass won Mobile Product or Service of the Year for its Mobile Office solution.
The UK Internet Innovation of the Year award was won by social-networking site Bebo.
The other winners were:
- Cisco's TelePresence for Enterprise Hardware Product of the Year;
- 1E's NightWatchman v5 for Enterprise Software Product of the Year;
- Zeus Technology's Zeus Extensible Traffic Manager virtual appliance for Networking Product of the Year;
- PatchLink-SecureWave's Sanctuary 4.1 for Security Product of the Year;
- 5i and CNT for UK Technology Partnership of the Year;
- Tidalwave's Canon UK 'Diet' Campaign for UK Technology Marketing Campaign of the Year; and
- Octane PR's "Making Postini the Fastest-Growing Security Start-Up in Europe" campaign for UK Technology PR Campaign of the Year.