Five Ways to Raise Green IT AwarenessBy Pedro Pereira | Posted 2008-09-11 Email Print
Buyers are thinking green but see no leadership from vendors. Here's how to change that.
How green have we become? Some would say not enough, and they would be right.
Still, awareness of the impact humans have on the environment has grown steadily in recent years, to the point where both major-party presidential candidates this year have included climate change in their platforms.
In the technology realm, buyers are thinking green. Anecdotal evidence from vendors and solution providers shows that buyers are interested in green products not only to save on energy costs but also, increasingly, out of a sense of social responsibility.
Market researcher Hansa GCR found in a recent poll that 64 percent of 600 business buyers believe being perceived as green helps their brand. More tellingly, 92 percent of 1,200 consumers polled said the environment is a consideration when they buy tech products. And you know how that goes: If consumers are trending a certain way, businesses won’t be far behind. No wonder, then, that business buyers already believe going green helps their brand.
But buyers are looking for leadership from IT vendors, which the Hansa GCR study indicates is lacking. Asked to name vendors with green products, more than 40 percent of respondents went blank. This means that despite many vendors’ efforts to go green, they are not doing enough to raise awareness of those efforts among buyers.
To change that, IT vendors that have invested in developing and marketing green technology should take the following five measures:
1. Shout it out: The market is ready to go green, so vendors need to make a point of telling buyers they have the products. When e-commerce was all the rage a decade ago, every last vendor was going out of its way to extol its e-commerce capabilities. That kind of energy is needed now in regard to green technologies. Get the message out there with print, online and TV ads. Make it stand out in packaging and web pages.
2. Think channel: Some vendors, such as IBM and Sun Microsystems, have developed programs to train and certify partners on green technology and services. Sun’s Eco Advantage Program, for instance, trains channel partners selling the vendor’s SPARC systems on datacenter power use and cooling, and the delivery of consolidation and virtualization services.
3. Educate: Education, of course, is an element of measures one and two, but to make it more comprehensive, vendors should dedicate a section of their web site to information about how to reduce technology’s impact on the environment. Make a homepage link to the section hard to miss and populate it with white papers, research studies, case studies, how-tos and other documents. Visibility is key. Cisco, for instance, has plenty of information on its web site about going green, but it isn’t clear how to get there from the homepage.
4. Play with others: Individually, some vendors are working on green training and certification programs for their partners. They also need to come together and work with a third party, such as the trade association Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) to develop industry standards for products and processes. They should collaborate on a certification, or accreditation, for solution providers to prove to customers they conform to green standards.
5. Live it: Vendors should implement corporate and employee policies that show they are serious about the environment. Policies should cover printing, powering down idle devices, lighting use and, where appropriate, public transportation subsidies and telecommuting. In addition, more vendors should take a cue from Google and consider investments in alternative sources of energy to show the world they are serious about going green.
Pedro Pereira is editor of eWEEK Strategic Partner and a contributing editor for Channel Insider. He is at firstname.lastname@example.org.