CIOs to take lead in boardroom amid fuel fears

CIOs will have to take on additional responsibility as power and power management issues enter the boardroom, says EIU report

CIOs will have to take on additional responsibility as power and power management issues enter the boardroom.

Eighty per cent of senior executives expect fuel and energy prices to rise sharply, and 50% expect energy shortages within the next five years, according to research among 200 UK businesses by T-Systems and the Economist Intelligence Unit.

As a result, responsibility for ensuring an adequate power supply is always available will move from facilities management to the boardroom, the study said.

Sam Kingston, UK head at T-Systems, said the results showed that there is an acknowledgement that fuel shortages and price rises are on the horizon. "Unless something is done by companies there will be brown outs, where power goes down regularly," said Kingston. Businesses will have to ration power as a result.

"Today we have to treat power as a business risk just as we treat capital," said Kingston.

CIOs will not only be expected to cut the power used within their own department but will have to take a lead in helping other departments reduce consumption.

Technology such as virtualisation, with multiple servers running on one piece of hardware, and on-demand services, with users only using what they need, are examples of how the IT department can cut energy usage.

But CIOs also play an important role in reducing energy costs across the company as a whole.

Tesco is an example of a business that is already doing this. It recognised that even if Tesco cuts IT's carbon footprint by 25%, it will cut only 1% off its total footprint.

Examples of Tesco's drive to use IT to cut power consumption across the business include automated building management systems to manage the climate inside stores, dim and brighten lights as daylight changes, monitor refrigerators and heating systems more closely, and switch off non-essential systems when the store closes. The retailer is also rolling out telemetry to monitor driver behaviour and routing for its delivery fleet. Other efforts include installing low-energy lighting, redesigning shop floor layouts to minimise cooling and heating of aisles, more home-working, and better route planning.

Findings of the T-Systems and the Economist Intelligence Unit report

  • 42% of respondent companies already have plans to implement a micro-generation scheme which provides zero carbon power. This includes wind and solar power generation.
  • 73% of respondents believe that nuclear energy will have to be the primary solution to the UK's energy needs in the medium term.
  • 90% of respondents already have a concrete energy efficiency goal for the year ahead, with most planning cuts of up to 10%.
  • 91% executives polled agree that electricity suppliers should be required to promote energy use reduction through efficiency schemes.

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