IT news website V3.co.uk said that the economic crisis has slowed uptake of green IT products for the first time since 2007. This is hardly surprising. When times are good, it is easier to look beyond the bottom line, but when times are tough, new initiatives are made to jump through hoops.
According to the Forrester Research study quoted by the report, 11% of the companies polled planned to slow down their sustainable IT initiatives, compared with 5% in October 2008. Some 38% were planning to maintain their pace, down from 39%.
But the V3.co.uk report included one other interesting statistic: 12% of companies are planning to accelerate green IT projects, compared to 10% in October 2008, with cost cutting a primary driver.
Although it has been said many times, there are a number of technologies which deliver green IT benefits to customers that are gaining ground in enterprises, justified however by their cost-saving potential rather than because of the environmental benefits. The main areas where there is a significant cross-over between green IT and cost saving include cutting power use in data centres, video collaboration (cutting travel spend), and resource-efficient computing.
Is the fact that green IT is finding traction in the enterprise via the back door a bad thing? Surely the key to success for any corporate solution is the ability to satisfy multiple purchasing criteria, and if sustainability and cost benefits can be delivered together, with improved productivity also in the mix, it is a win-win that enables sustainability to hold up its head in a cost-focused world.
But it is also important that business keep track of the environmental benefits derived from the use of new technology, whatever the motivating factor for purchase is. Surely when times get better, and there is attention placed on issues beyond the bottom line again, it will be corporate sustainability that draws attention - and if enterprises can show they have managed to pursue the green cause even through tough times, whatever the main driver really is, there is credit to be gained.