Green IT: A critical industry practice

IT organisations need to embark on green initiatives and advantage from the outcomes: key message of SiTF’s conference.

Green IT is still at its early stage of development in the industry worldwide. Nonetheless, it is an essential domain for businesses not only to boost corporate environmental responsibility but also to reduce companies' bottom line. This was the highlight of the conference organised by the Green IT Chapter of the Singapore infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF) on 8 October 2010 in Singapore's Nanyang Polytechnic.

"It is no longer a question of choice, it is a necessity," said the anchor speaker Peter Phan, senior manager of global consulting firm Accenture. He was referring to the adoption of green activities by IT organisations.

Corporate awareness and interest in environmental responsibility has heightened. However, IT companies still need to become more green-conscious, according to Phan. For instance, they need to be more proactive in reducing the energy consumption of their IT platforms, and realise that if they don't robustly deal with it, they will run out of energy, Phan said.

"(Organisations) can look at taking advantage of being green, instead of viewing it as another noise in the market." Phan added that 'going-green' is a feasible practice and in fact can have a bottom-line impact. "The good news is that green practices can yield significant savings over time."

Starting point

Phan advised that to embark on green IT initiatives, companies first need to know where to start. He illustrated Accenture's perspective of a starting point through the company's Green Maturity Model (GMM) framework.

According to Phan, the GMM is based on the notion that 'you can't control what you can't measure' and ultimately 'what gets measured gets managed'.

The environmental harms followed by the actions required by organisations should be addressed thoroughly before the subsequent step in investing on greening their operations.

Holistic strategy

"The green IT agenda takes a holistic view of the environmental footprint across the organisation, it does not just deal with what happens at the back of data centres," Phan said.

"The (green IT) agenda is about how an organisation can run effectively and efficiently," Phan added. He citied corporate initiatives such as waste elimination, engaging customers and government organisations in green activities, deploying environmentally friendly computing devices, and reducing carbon footprint.

Green IT advances were discussed further by other speakers from the IT industry who spoke of the reduction in commuting and utilisation of resources through the enhancement of communication methods.

Prateek Singh, software architect from InfoTrust, an IT consulting and services company, headquartered in Singapore, shared with the audience the company's contribution to the environment with its Web-based collaborative platform.

Singh said the ability to collaborate and communicate with employees and customers worldwide through a virtual platform curbs travelling and thus reduces carbon emissions. "The shift from conventional filling to digital filling also reduces resources used," Singh added.

Chong Too Yen, chief operating officer of Enera Asia Pacific, said the technology product distributor wanted to 'go-green' and concurrently save money, and consequently was prompted to conduct meetings online. "This allows (Enera) to reduce printed materials and travelling," Chong said.

"This initiative in turn provides cost savings on print resources, rental of meeting venues, travelling and transport." Chong added.

He highlighted that online meetings are further made effective in Singapore by the Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network that has allowed for high-definition and high-speed video conferencing communication.