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One of the potential victims of the downturn is the green message. The idea of spending money to save the planet will not seal many deals in the current climate.
It has not helped that the government is indicating that the priority is to create jobs and spend money to bolster business, with green taking a back seat. The decision to go ahead with the third runway at Heathrow is cited by many as an example of that thinking.
But in the IT industry the feeling remains that there is still a strong opportunity selling green because most of the technology that benefits the environment also cuts costs.
Patrick Irwin, product manager at Citrix, says that although many companies have pushed green to one side the pressure on energy costs remains.
“As IT becomes less siloed within business, the cost savings in power are more important than ever. In fact, for many organisations, green policies are a natural by-product of traditional monetary ones,” he says.
As a consequence of the remaining cost savings there are still many players in the industry pushing the green message.
“Customers do want to talk about the energy story, and it is not just about carbon emissions and power consumption. It is all about taking out cost,” says Dave Scott, head of communications at Fujitsu Siemens Computers.
Backing up that approach, renewable energy product specialist Stiebel Eltron has unveiled a free energy advice service designed to help customers identify and manage costs.
“There is a misconception that installing green energy products is expensive,” says Mark McManus, UK managing director at Stiebel Eltron.
“However, it is vital that business owners realise that going green and becoming energy efficient can save cash and cut costs,” he adds.
“Renewable energy heating products can pay for themselves within a matter of years of being installed.”
In many respects that has been the sales approach from the start, with the focus on datacentres, power consumption and moving to thin clients exploiting desktop virtualisation.
But where companies are not going green to save money but for the sake of the world, the downturn will knock those purchases largely on the head.
Already the green tinge that a lot of vendors daubed themselves with has
disappeared and the environmental message is not quite as close to the top of the agenda.
Keeping up resistance
Laura Mooney, vice-president of corporate communications at Metastorm, says that customers are going to resist a wholesale move towards green technology unless pressure comes on them to make changes.
“Unless it is something forced on them by the government, businesses will be very focused to see how they can have cost saving initiatives to support green IT,” she says.
At the start of the year Steve Brazier, president and CEO of analyst house Canalys, said that in terms of trends for 2009 he saw green being hit by the downturn.
Last week, Access Accounting revealed that a survey of customers had shown almost half were not monitoring their carbon emissions and 49% did not have anyone responsible for collecting data on the subject.
Rather than take it as a cause for despondency, Alistair O’Reilly,
group managing director of Access Technology Group, parent company of Access Accounting, says there is still an opportunity to sell the green message.
“The top three rated priorities – surviving, reducing costs and
becoming greener – can all be linked,” he says. “Businesses could look at company-wide initiatives to cut its use of fossil fuels and reduce power consumption.”