This blog by Steve Goldstein of Growth Advisors on Greenbiz.com discusses how companies in a range of industries, including the IT indstry, are using sustainability and innovation as a springboard to growth.
Goldstein makes the point that although in the communications and high-tech industry, "much has been written about how software will play an important role in monitoring environmental performance - an estimated $12 billion market this year with some of the world's and industry's leading companies like IBM, HP and SAP actively competing for it.. sustainability is playing a much larger, even pivotal role in remaking the competitive fundamentals, business models, and direction and growth of the industry itself."
He cites three sectors where an industry-wide growth opportunity is being provided by sustainability.
• High-tech equipment and services - "Cloud computing is fundamentally shifting the way enterprises use communications and high-tech products and services. Enterprises are embracing "the cloud" to reduce capital and operating expenditures. Of course, one of the biggest operating expenditures in a data centre is the cost of energy. The use of virtualisation software (central to the operating effectiveness of servers in data centers) from the leading provider (VMware) saves more power than the amount of electricity used annually for heating, ventilation and air conditioning across all of New England. Further, the energy efficiency of computing and network equipment has improved by 70 percent to 90 percent in recent years. "Cloud" is the competitive game changer and a big growth opportunity that every major player in this industry is working on and sustainability is a fundamental reason for its emergence."
• Telecom services - "For major telcos and other players in the communications business, the focus on sustainability is reviving established services like video conferencing, fleet telematics, and telecommuting that date back a few energy crises. It is also putting communications companies in position to compete for business in the rapidly growing markets for cloud, hosting and vertical solutions like e-health against IT providers. New and potentially very large markets for smart buildings, smart grids, remote monitoring, and electric vehicle charging are also in the sights of many companies in this space. Leading telco services providers are beginning to put sustainability at the centre of their product strategies and are looking to address the competitive and regulatory pressures customers are feeling around the sustainability issue. They are in a unique position to provide a broad and integrated set of solutions to the range of an enterprise's sustainability needs."
• Cleantech - "Clearly a new and rapidly emerging, yet already large space ($188 billion market value in 2010, according to Clean Edge), more money is going into cleantech than any other communications or high-tech segment. Billions are being invested by venture funds, Internet players like Google and long established tech giants including Intel. Why? Solar, water, wind, power, electric vehicles and other cleantech products are highly dependent on information technology and communications in both their operation and distribution and represent the most significant growth and value creation opportunities in this industry for the foreseeable future."