Does Green IT Matter?
Those expressing skepticism--including me--that the budding green IT movement was nothing more than a clever marketing ploy may have to eat their words. Or, at least nibble on them.
The cynicism certainly wasn't unfounded, and I'm not totally sure it's been disproven today. But one thing's for sure: regardless of businesses' motivation, investment in eco-friendly technologies continues to grow--fast.
A study by KPMG, released today, venture capitalists, bankers, entrepreneurs and others said a quarter of new investments will toward green IT. In Europe--whose environmentally friendly policies have far outpaced the U.S.--a number of major financial firms and vehicles have set up funds around green IT investments.
So back to the question we raised in September: is green IT just clever marketing? Or is it the real thing? Back then, the consensus seemed to be that businesses were investing for bottom-line considerations. Environmental consciousness was just gravy, really.
In our latest Weekly Report, my colleague Eric Chabrow speaks with Sun Microsystems CIO Bob Worrell explains his company's motivation for building a green data center. "I think the real reason that most IT shops should be looking at going green is the sheer cost savings component of it," Worrell says. "We started this journey a couple of years ago, not with the notion of saving the planet, but frankly just to save a whole lot of money. That's proven to be the case, and I think that's the case for many of our peers as well."
The corporate world is putting a strong new spin on the argument political leaders like Michael Bloomberg, Arnold Schwarzenegger and, most notably, Al Gore, have made for years. (The Governator's endorsement of Arizona Sen. John McCain, who shares his climate-change concerns, was delivered today after a tour of a solar technology plant.)
Financial considerations will always be the first objective for any business move; with a huge potential for profit in the green industry, that shouldn't come as any surprise. Is there more to it? Is there at lease a smidge of environmental concern behind the investments? Probably. But for now, the bottom line wins. And there's nothing wrong with that.