Are IT managers buying into 'green'?
At the Business Goes Green conference in San Jose, Calif., last week, Christopher Mines, senior vice president of Forrester Research, talked about the importance of changing the procurement process to be more eco-friendly. He told attendees that green practices will help refresh infrastructure IT and provide a longer life cycle for equipment. But are IT managers interested in acquiring green goods and services for their businesses?
Christopher Mines: One of the crucial processes that we work with IT organizations to change is procurement; putting standards in place to buy greener hardware, software, services and buy them from greener companies. So it's not only the product and services that those companies bring, but what about their internal practices. They're part of your supply chain, you want to make sure that you're doing business with the greenest companies you possibly can.
So, when you think about changing procurement criteria, and really infusing green into the procurement process of an IT organization. It does two things, one it starts the process of refreshing their infrastructure. It starts getting more energy efficient gear, smaller, lighter, longer life cycle gear hopefully into the asset base of the firm. That's a big change and a big improvement in an IT organizations environmental footprint. But it also serves as a signal back to the supply side of the industry. And I work with these guys all the time; they track this stuff very carefully.
How many of our RFPs have green criteria in them? How stringent are those green criteria? Are customers willing to pay more for green characteristics, or more likely not.
So by changing the procurement criteria and procurement process, an IT organization not only affects itself, but also ripples back into its suppliers. And believe me those guys pay a ton of attention to what they see in their customers RFPs. That is the single most powerful thing, a lot of reasons that HP s and IBM s and Dell s of the world want to be greener. But the biggest one is that their customers are asking for it and increasingly demanding it.
So changing that RFP process and tightening that RFP criteria around buying greener products and services from their suppliers is a really crucial leverage point, we think, for changing how the industry behaves overall.
So, where are we in terms of adoption, we ask our survey respondents this question, "Has your company included environmental criteria" and that can be pretty much anything here, greener manufacturing, energy efficiency, recyclability of the products. Have you included any environmental criteria in evaluation and selection of IT purchases.
And you see a nice steady increase in the number, the percentage, of our survey respondents saying, "Yes, we are including those green criteria into our IT procurement process, Now up to 50 percent of the companies in our latest survey of just a month ago, or so.
Now, the challenge underneath this is, well how heavily weighted are those criteria, how stringent are they, how rigorous are they, are you really walking away from products, or from companies, that don't meet your environmental criteria. And here, I must say you know getting underneath this a little bit, as I talk to IT procurement folks, they are not very rigorous, there not very stringent with these green criteria, at least not yet.
Most often, I hear these kinds of criteria and company's RFPs, when they're there, they are tie breakers. If everything else is equal then we'll pick the most environmentally friendly product. If the other 99 criteria are a flat footed tie this will be our tie breaker. And its right before we get to coin flip in the overtime hierarchy here.
Very few, I wouldn't get off one hand counting the number of clients that I've talked to who say "We walk away, these are deal breakers." Not tie breakers, deal breakers in terms of looking for more energy efficiency within our gear.
So that's something that we need to get underneath the high level questions we ask in our surveys and really understand OK, how rigorous, how heavily weighted are these purchase criteria? Today generally speaking they are pretty lightly weighted and really fall more, as I said towards the tie breaker end of the spectrum.