Fujitsu, BT, HP and IBM are the greenest ICT vendors, according to analyst group, Gartner.
In partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature, Gartner assessed 24 global ICT providers on their in-house commitment to tackling climate change as well as their capabilities in innovating eco-friendly solutions for their clients.
The assessment covered five categories: Environmental basics, supply chain basics, carbon basics - which covers internal business processes, carbon delivery; and carbon champions - which looks at what organisations are doing to help their customers outside their four walls. The results showed the ICT industry overall had been slow to embrace a low carbon economy.
Fujitsu, BT, HP and IBM did well in almost all categories and had a well-structured, long-term environmental plan that demonstrates a level of commitment across the business, Gartner said.
“When it comes to managing supply chain… Nokia excelled, IBM and BT have both focused on their tier one providers and engaged significantly with their second tier suppliers and beyond. Cisco, China Mobile, Lenovo, Dell and Google all scored relatively poorly,” Gartner said in a statement.
Google does not have an environmental policy, while Nortel and Cisco possessed environmental policies that were bland and non-committal compared to BT’s which was specific, challenging and linked to KPIs, the research firm said.
The survey also showed that self-professed leaders lacked an overall greenhouse gas (GHG) target, including Nokia, Ericsson, Google, Nortel, Cisco, SAP and Wipro. However, Cisco and Lenovo have since set themselves GHG targets.
While the ICT industry has been slow to embrace a low carbon economy, Gartner research vice-president and presenter of the assessment’s findings at the Gartner Symposium in Sydney this week, Simon Mingay, said he had seen vendors wake up this year and expected even more improvement next year.
“Overall, we think the definition of what is green and what has got environmental benefits are too much in the hands of marketing teams, which really aren’t in a position to decide whether something is greener or better for the environment in a low carbon economy,” he said.
Mingay said Gartner was surprised to see some of the leaders in the industry not having GHG targets.
“We think that is a fundamental requirement for claiming any kind of leadership in a climate change strategy. HP and IBM have some quite aggressive targets to reduce their GHG emissions but a number of others don’t," he said. "Nokia and Ericsson, who performed very well in our assessment, are short of a GHG target. They have a lot of energy targets and we give them credit for that, but you need both, not one or the other.”
According to Mingay, the ICT services sector is dragging its feet the most when it comes to low carbon credentials, outshone by the hardware providers who have had to deal with environmental issues through legislation for some time now.
“But the service organisations haven’t, and we’ve found they have been very slow to respond. Accenture, EDS and TCS all chose not to participate and we think that reflects the state of the services industry and they need to smarten up and get their act together,” he said.
Another key weakness is a lack of vendors choosing customers or partners based on their low carbon credentials, the assessment showed.
“The two vendors who were really doing that are BT and IBM, and Dell to a lesser extent but most of the others hardly at all; we think that is a mistake. If they are serious about climate change they need to push it down the supply chain and need to make it a key element of contract adjudication," Mingay said.
“The industry is really in poor shape in terms of taking that lifecycle view. There is some evidence from Nokia, Ericsson and Fujitsu, but a lot of them aren’t doing it because their customers aren’t asking them to. If you want to walk the walk, lifecycle assessments is part of where you need to go.”
Mingay said too many organisations responded to green initiatives with the question of how much it willcost, rather than how much it will save their business money.
“There are some areas which do cost, but for the most part it’s about efficiency; energy efficiency, material efficiency and carbon efficiency. It’s actually about saving money and getting a much better understanding about your business," he said.
Gartner said the key factor influencing the view of vendors and their distributors and the products they were selling, was their ability to talk in detail about the environmental impacts of their processes and products.
“Above all else it’s about educating the client-facing staff so they can talk intelligently beyond simply saying this is a more energy efficient product," Mingay said. "It’s about understanding what are the sources of carbon in the business and what actions you can put in place to address those, and doing that in a structured, analytical and systematic way rather than the box ticking approach.”
Nine providers, namely Accenture, Acer, AT&T, Deutsche Telkom, EDS, Microsoft, Oracle, Sun and TCS chose not to participate in the Gartner/WWF assessment. Mingay said, based on publicly available information and Gartner’s interactions with them outside of the assessment, that their lack of participation is because they would not have performed well.
Gartner also warned that a lack of standards and metrics to gauge greenness is one obstacle to a low carbon economy. It is working with the WWF to develop a system where companies can be measured. The study will be repeated next year, and Mingay expects the framework to be even tougher next time around.
“The winners in a low carbon economy will be those that realise which products and services have a material and observable effect on carbon emissions and especially those that create low-carbon feedback,” Mingay said.