Under Pressure: 10 Sources Pushing CIOs to Go Green

6. The Media

Pressure gauge reading: 5 

Going hand-in-hand with the pressure that CIOs feel from lawmakers and the IT industry is pressure from the media, which informs CIOs about what's going on in these areas.

The mainstream media, trade journals and bloggers have all focused on the connection between data centers, computing and energy use.

"The media as well as bloggers play a critical role in building awareness and communication," Google's Teetzel says. "Ten years ago, people wouldn't be able to quote their parts per million in C02. Today people who are not environmental scientists can. The media has been a big impetus of the climate change debate."

The media not only raises the climate change issue, but fosters debate and encourages investment in environmental technologies.

"Awareness is the first step," Teetzel says. "Once you start getting people to look at this issue, a lot of the steps they need to take are fairly straightforward."

"The media is way ahead of where most IT organizations are at," Mingay says. "The media keeps referring to possible regulation and legislation. One of the most common questions we get from CIOs is about regulation."

The media also offers CIOs an opportunity to tell their stories about the improvements they make in energy efficiency.

"Money is the primary driver for a lot of this [green IT movement], but there are also some very good benefits from PR and good press," Teetzel says. "A lot of companies try to tout their environmental and sustainable practices, and there's obviously a lot of benefit there for their brands."

In the future, CIOs may be under more pressure from negative press if they don't make environmentally sound choices.

CIOs "have to be cautious not to make an anti-green decision," Stanley says. "If they make a decision that's clearly not green, I think they'll come under a tremendous amount of scrutiny…It's one thing to have a legacy that's not green, and it's another thing to make a new business decision that's not aware."

7. Competitors

Pressure gauge reading: 5 

Companies always feel pressure about what their direct competitors are doing, and green IT is no exception.

"A lot of companies are reactionary to what their competitors do, so that's a big pressure," Teetzel says. "Microsoft, Google and Yahoo -- all three have declared plans for carbon neutrality…Now we're jockeying for position as to who is going to be the greenest company out there."

Teetzel says he sees the same trend among retailers, with Wal-Mart leading the way. The same holds true in the airline and auto industries. "There's been a radical transition in the auto industry. A lot of companies were producing hybrids grudgingly, but the competitive pressure is a big deal," Teetzel adds.

Teetzel says that competitive pressure regarding energy efficiency and carbon-footprint reduction will rise because the most aggressive companies in these areas will be the most profitable.

"This is not just about a reduction of C02," Teetzel says. "It's about freeing up capital that goes into energy and is wasted [and putting it] into other areas of the business. It's about making businesses more efficient not just from an energy standpoint but in other areas. It's very good for the economy…In the next five to 10 years, you're going to see businesses that are streamlined and more efficient."

Already, IT vendors are reporting competitiveness among CIOs regarding the energy efficiency of the new data centers they are building.

"Those folks who are designing data centers say they want to design the most energy efficient data center in their space," APC's Tuccillo says. "That's pretty much the mind-set."

Companies are also seeing pressure from their customers or potential customers to improve their energy efficiency.

"We're beginning to see a trend where the CEOs of some companies are being asked by some of their customers, like Wal-Mart and others, to adhere to environmental codes of conduct," Intel's Skinner says. "We're just starting to see companies audit carbon footprint, measure it and take steps to reduce it. Then CEOs turn to CIOs and ask the IT department to be an enabler to carbon-footprint reduction. Teleconferencing, telepresence and enabling employees to telecommute help reduce carbon."

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