The next technology revolution

Over the past three decades, Information Technology has grown to become an indispensable business tool for all types of organisation around the globe. Digital solutions will undoubtedly play a key role in the race to prevent global warming. But the proliferation of datacentres, desktop equipment and mobile devices is also having a significant environmental impact.
    
To make sure that technology does not become a net contributor to the problem, the IT industry and end-user communities now need to focus on minimising the resources consumed by manufacturing, running and disposing of IT equipment whilst working together to realise its huge potential to deliver more sustainable business practices in the future.
    
The forthcoming Green IT Expo 2008 in November provides a unique chance to get your own IT strategy in order and learn about the significant opportunities emerging from the new wave of sustainable computing techniques.

Why Is ‘Green IT’ Important?
Escalating energy prices, new reporting requirements, increasing political pressure and growing consumer awareness are rapidly becoming key factors in the changing socio-economic landscape. As a major consumer of electricity and the primary target of the recent WEEE directive on recycling electronic equipment, IT operations are being pushed directly into the public spotlight, creating an urgent requirement to develop more sustainable computing strategies that reduce energy usage and minimise the impact of IT on the environment.
    
For public sector organisations, the imperative for Green IT is strong as citizens start to demand more responsible business practices and look to government to lead the way by example.

The Benefits IT will Deliver
Government IT departments have an opportunity to reduce the carbon emissions of their own technology infrastructure and avoid unnecessary energy costs through efficiency improvements – and an even bigger opportunity to tackle climate change by facilitating more environmentally friendly practices across the rest of the enterprise.
    
The potential benefits of adopting a more sustainable IT strategy are highly significant:

  • Respond to growing public demand for more responsible business practices
  • Ensure compliance with the latest environmental regulations and government targets
  • Reduce electricity costs through more energy-efficient IT equipment/infrastructure  
  • Reduce wastage of IT consumables and obsolete equipment
  • Improve IT performance through more efficient system and software design
  • Build organisational agility through concepts such as virtualisation and IT outsourcing
  • Increase staff efficiency and reduce travel through teleworking and videoconferencing
  • Reduce paper usage through email, online forms and electronic document management 
  • Provide more efficient ways for citizens to access and interact with public services
  • Incorporate green criteria into the procurement process to build sustainable supply chains
  • Use new technologies to measure, monitor and control carbon emissions within the enterprise  
  • Manage reputational risk on a local, national and international scale 

Whilst cutting costs and improving sustainability are certainly not mutually exclusive, it is important not to confuse the two objectives when formulating a Green IT strategy. There are often some difficult trade-offs to be made in the short-to-medium term, which can result in ‘big-bang’ approaches, designed to be a panacea but unworkable in practice. Instead, organisations should focus on agreeing short, medium and long-term targets that can actually be delivered, focusing initially on the softer benefits and more altruistic motivations, whilst accepting that the hard financial benefits may be difficult to calculate accurately from the outset – but will surely follow.

Long-Term Trend or Short-Lived Fad?
No sooner has the sustainable computing concept started to gather steam, than many organisations are already starting to complain about ‘supplier greenwash’, ‘carbon-jargon’ and ‘green fatigue’ – with many already starting to question whether it is just the latest IT fad, perpetuated by enthusiastic IT supplier marketing departments. This is largely due to escalating media coverage and the high profile of environmental issues throughout society.
    
As a result, Green IT is certainly likely to go through the familiar phases of a ‘hype-cycle’, just like any other emerging technology, but there is very little chance of it fizzling out or even losing momentum.
    
Green IT represents the start of a significant long-term change. The combination of genuine long-term benefits and irresistible socio-economic trends will make sustainable computing a major issue for at least the course of the next decade, as organisations of all shapes and sizes are compelled to adopt more responsible practices across the board.
    
In a low-carbon economy, where energy and carbon-offsetting will represent an increasingly disproportionate element of costs, the future will not be about simply doing the same things in a more energy-efficient way: significant re-thinking will required at all levels of business, government and society. The opportunities for innovation are huge and IT's role will be central.

Free to attend
Green IT Expo 2008 is the UK’s first free-to-attend showcase of sustainable computing practices and IT solutions, brought to you in conjunction with the WWF’s global Climate Savers Computing Initiative, DEFRA, Forrester, AMR Research, Carbon Smart, IBM, the Green Economics Institute and Action Sustainability.
    
Through a unique combination of complimentary seminars, supplier briefings and experience-sharing opportunities, this educational event is designed to help you:

  • Understand the key challenges for IT departments and the industry as a whole
  • Keep up-to-speed with significant developments at a local and international level
  • Ensure compliance with the latest legislation and government directives
  • Review a wide range of environmentally-friendly IT products and services 
  • Formulate sustainable IT strategies for the short, medium and long-terms
  • Implement green initiatives that improve efficiency and reduce costs
  • Harness the potential of IT to facilitate more responsible business practices
  • Contribute directly to your organisation’s wider social responsibilities

Free educational programme
At Green IT Expo 2008, a modular programme of free educational seminars follows a similar format on both days of the event – giving delegates two chances to attend and select sessions of their choice.
    
Key analysts, industry experts, early adopters and other end-users will offer a series of informative and inspirational insights into the key challenges for sustainable computing – from both operational and technical perspectives.

For more information
Register online now at www.greenitexpo.com

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