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Corporate America still green-lighting green IT

Global companies are accelerating their green IT initiatives despite the recession, according to a report released Tuesday by Forrester Research.

Green energy image

Companies are bringing in fewer greenbacks these days, but that has yet to slow their plans on green IT initiatives, according to a Forrester Research report released Tuesday.

In a survey of over 1,000 global companies, taken in October when the markets were in a deep spiral, the survey found that greener policies and practices for IT organizations actually were on the rise.

Nearly half of survey respondents said they planned to accelerate or maintain their current green IT projects.

According to the report:

With a macroeconomic slowdown rippling through most industries and geographies in the last months of 2008, we asked our survey respondents for an initial reading on what impact, if any, a slowing economy will have on their companies' green IT initiatives:

• Of companies changing the pace of their green IT efforts, twice as many will go faster. Most survey respondents told us that the economy would have no effect on their green IT plans or that it was too early to determine the impact. But of those making a change in their green implementations, twice as many said that they would accelerate their efforts as told us that they would slow down green IT efforts.

This data is counter-intuitive only at first glance. Companies are realizing that "green means green" -- more sustainable computing operations are also more efficient and less costly. It is a very encouraging data point for all of us in the IT industry who have been promoting the energy savings and reduced total cost of ownership (TCO) of more efficient hardware and software. It's also a strong signal that cost reduction must stay at the center of any green-IT-related value proposition from supplier to customer.

• Cost savings remains the No. 1 motivator for green IT initiatives. As it has in our previous survey readings, "reducing energy-related operating expenses" is the most frequently cited driver of corporate green IT efforts. And this is especially true among US companies, where cost-related outcomes are even more important versus other drivers that matter more to green stakeholders outside the IT organization, such as regulatory compliance or brand enhancement. In general, we find that US companies look for cost savings from green IT, while European and Asian (and Canadian) companies more frequently cite expected outcomes relating to corporate positioning

The report noted that 52 percent of survey respondents were either implementing an overall green IT practice or creating one. That is up from 40 percent of survey respondents during the same period last year.

Forrester also found that despite a souring economy, 10 percent of survey respondents would accelerate their green IT plans, while 38 percent would maintain the pace of their green IT initiatives.

Green IT chart
Forrester Research

And while cutting energy-related operating expenses was at the top of the list (67 percent) for pursuing a green IT initiative, other reasons companies cited were environmental benefits (42 percent) and reducing IT operating expenses, such as maintenance or labor (34 percent).

Within these statistics, however, it is interesting to note that while environmental benefits had a respectable showing as the No. 2 reason. The gap between the No. 1 energy cost reduction was much narrower last year. Previously, environmental benefits captured 50 percent, while energy cost reduction was 55 percent, in October 2007.

The survey also shows that companies are moving beyond simply purchasing more energy-efficient hardware and software -- they're also putting green criteria into their evaluation mix when purchasing IT equipment and choosing suppliers.