Strong customer pressure on biz to go green

Tech vendors see growing need in Asia to meet green demand, due to customer concerns over public profile and corporate social responsibility.

Businesses' growing concerns over their public profile and the need to meet corporate social responsibility (CSR) obligations mean vendors and suppliers are increasingly under pressure to be eco-friendly to stay competitive.

This was recently highlighted when Apple in July rejoined the Electronics Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) green technology standard, just days after withdrawing from it.

The about-turn which Cupertino said "was a mistake" was apparently driven by the loss of potential business, after the City of San Francisco was the first public agency to cancel its Apple purchases as the EPEAT certification was a requirement for its equipment procurement.

Major corporations such as Ford, HSBC and Kaiser Permanente also require their CIOs to purchase computers from EPEAT-certified manufacturers, according to the Wall Street Journal in July.

And tech companies in Asia say businesses have started to demand green features and products as part of their internal company policies.

Taylor Man, executive vice president of new business division at NTT Com Asia, said more customers prefer to do business with environmentally responsible companies and are incorporating green standards as part of their procurement requirements.

He noted a "surge in enquiries" about sustainable data center services, with the number doubling over the past two years. Some customers listed energy efficiency, for example, as a key evaluation criterion, Man said.

"With increasing awareness of sustainability and, therefore, the demand on ICT outsourcing because of its inherent efficiency, green is no doubt of increasing importance in the datacenter industry," he said.

Agreeing, Kris Kumar, senior vice president and regional head for Asia-Pacific at Digital Realty, observed an increasing trend where customers are asking for "green credentials and energy efficiencies" in the design of their data centers.

"Nowadays, everyone is going green. It's almost like peer pressure. If you don't do it, then you're sticking out like a sore thumb in a bad way."

Jake Lim, marketing executive

Data center operator Equinix concurred, pointing out that CSR agendas have been growing in importance in IT purchases.

"Two years ago, nobody was asking about green features. Now over the past 12 months, at least 30 percent ask if we have green features at our data center," Clement Goh, managing director for South Asia at Equinix, noted in a ZDNet Asia report last month .

Fuji Xerox has also seen a demand for products to help companies meet their internal environmental targets. To cater to the corporate push in the green space, the document management vendor last month launched Eco-Print Dashboard --an online portal that allows customers to view their printing and power consumption, and compare their efficiency against industry averages.

Going green good for corporate image
ZDNet Asia spoke to consumers who shared that adopting more environmentally friendly products was not just a personal agenda, but becoming part of their company's policy.

Singapore-based marketing executive, Jake Lim, said his company paid close attention to green features available for equipment used in his office as this would not only help save energy costs, but also projected a good corporate image.

"Nowadays, everyone is going green," Lim. "It's almost like peer pressure. If you don't do it, then you're sticking out like a sore thumb in a bad way."

Concurring, Raymond Lee, owner of an IT services company, highlighted a sharp increase in the number of "green products and labels", compared to five years ago, because of a growing consumer awareness .

"If you expect people to buy green products from you, then you have to lead by example as well," Lee said.

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