Businesses want IT to support energy efficiency

Large businesses are prioritising investments in IT to control and reduce their energy consumption and IT service providers are improving their ability to provide services to them.

Large businesses are prioritising investments in IT to control and reduce their energy consumption, which is at the same time driving IT service providers to improve their capabilities.

The next two years will see 100% of businesses prioritise IT investments in facility energy management and energy and carbon management. Meanwhile, 87% have budget initiatives for smart meters and sustainable datacentres.

These are the findings of research by sustainable business analyst firm Verdantix. The company spoke to businesses across 10 industries with a collective IT spend of $331bn.

David Metcalfe, CEO at Verdantix, said CFOs are waking up to the significant savings they can make with more efficient energy use as a result of rising energy prices and carbon taxes.

Increased focus on energy efficiency

He said there has been a broadening of focus on sustainability in recent years. “Energy management has always been top of the list of priorities, but a few years ago there was more focus on datacentres for sustainability developments. But now it is broader and businesses want to improve sustainability across the organisation.” This, he says, includes the use of smart energy metering technology.

With IT budgets remaining flat at best this year, businesses will need to tap into other budgets to fund investments in energy efficiency. 

Metcalfe said money is coming from across the company, and Verdantix research found that only 20% of IT services providers are trying to sell into the IT department.

Smart meter roll-out

The government plans to give businesses and consumers the ability to better understand and reduce their energy consumption with smart meters.

The GB Smart Metering Implementation Programme (GB SMIP) is estimated to cost £11.7bn and the IT that underpins it is set to be one of its biggest challenges.

With a planned 53 million smart meters installed in homes and businesses across the UK, the GB SMIP aims to allow gas and electricity consumption to be monitored. This will provide information to help consumers and businesses use energy more efficiently. 

The smart meter project promises to lower bills, reduce the UK’s carbon footprint and help energy suppliers to provision better and prevent shortages.

Businesses of all sizes in the UK will become increasingly aware of the importance of energy efficiency as the GB Smart Metering Implementation Programme, which aims to have smart meters installed in homes and businesses across the UK, gathers pace (see panel).

Role for IT service providers

Executives interviewed expressed a desire for external services when it comes to sustainability initiatives. They prefer service providers for implementation support, seek IT implementation support for a wide range of energy and environment projects, and prefer to engage with specialist firms for niche advisory projects, according to the Verdantix report.

Verdantix’s research revealed that despite spending on IT to support sustainability being a priority, deals with IT service providers will remain small until 2014. As a result, the service providers will have to invest with little return.

Priorities for sustainable technology investments in the next two years (source: Verdantix)

The research also benchmarked the ability of 17 IT service providers to meet customer demand around sustainability.

Verdantix said Accenture, Deloitte, IBM and Logica are leading the way, with practices dedicated to energy and sustainability services. “They each have a broad portfolio of offerings covering most market segments, strong sustainability consulting skills to engage clients in new discussions, and active marketing of corporate sustainability performance."

It also revealed that Capgemini, CSC, Fujitsu, Steria and TCS have broadened offerings. “Based on success in one or two market segments, these five IT systems integrators are expanding their propositions into contiguous areas,” said the report.

Verdantix said HP, IBM, Wipro and Orange score highly on corporate sustainability. “Reflecting their manufacturing roots, HP and IBM together lead the field in terms of corporate sustainability performance. These firms also achieve the highest brand recognition among buyers for their sustainability offerings. Among the pure-play IT services firms, Wipro achieves the highest score for its corporate achievements on sustainability metrics.”

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