This week Computerworld is reporting on “Gartner’s top ten picks for 2008 and beyond“. This is the international list (first is a growth in Apple, second is the growth in internet centric devices, third is the integration of elements of open source into commercial software, etc). More than half the list can be considered to be strongly influenced by sustainability, or have impacts on sustainability. Sixth through eighth are explicitly green, and are written in a way that gives business relevance to the issues. They also go beyond costs and go wider than carbon:
6. By 2009, more than one third of IT organisations will have one or more environmental criteria in their top six buying criteria for IT-related goods. Initially, the motivation will come from the wish to contain costs. Enterprise datacentres are struggling to keep pace with the increasing power requirements of their infrastructures. And there is substantial potential to improve the environmental footprint throughout the lifecycle of all IT products and services without any significant trade-offs in price or performance. In future, IT organisations will shift their focus from the power efficiency of products to asking service providers about their measures to improve energy efficiency.
7. By 2010, 75% of organisations will use full lifecycle energy and CO2 footprint as mandatory PC hardware buying criteria. Most technology providers have little or no knowledge of the full lifecycle energy and CO2 footprint of their products. Some technology providers have started the process of life cycle assessments, or at least were asking key suppliers about carbon and energy use in 2007 and will continue in 2008. Most others using such information to differentiate their products will start in 2009 and by 2010 organisations will be able to start using the information as a basis for purchasing decisions. Most others will state some level of more detailed life cycle assessment in 2008.
8. By 2011, suppliers to large global organisations will need to prove their green credentials via an audited process to retain preferred supplier status. Those organisations with strong brands are helping to forge the first wave of green sourcing policies and initiatives. These policies go well beyond minimising direct carbon emissions or requiring suppliers to comply with local environmental regulations. For example, Timberland has launched a “Green Index” environmental rating for its shoes and boots. Home Depot is working on evaluation and audit criteria for assessing supplier submissions for its new EcoOptions product line.
Other predictions include a significant rise of computing as a service, both for software and infrastructure.
5. By 2011, early technology adopters will forgo capital expenditures and instead purchase 40% of their IT infrastructure as a service. Increased high-speed bandwidth makes it practical to locate infrastructure at other sites and still receive the same response times. Enterprises believe that as service-oriented architecture (SOA) becomes common, “cloud computing” will take off, thus untying applications from specific infrastructure. This trend to accepting commodity infrastructure could end the traditional “lock-in” with a single supplier and lower the costs of switching suppliers. It means that IT buyers should strengthen their purchasing and sourcing departments to evaluate offerings. They will have to develop and use new criteria for evaluation and selection and phase out traditional criteria.
When mixed with the previous predictions, we really need to sort out those new criteria to include the green rfp. We should also take advantage of this perhaps coincidental shift to leasing to work on manufacturer responsibility (ie we are closer to a business model where people can still make money selling the service from older machines rather than the current business model that requires us to buy new machines all too often).