Thursday, 21 February 2008

Green, Greener, Greenest

The analyst community loves ranking tables and positioning charts, although, to be fair, much of this is driven by customer demands and pandering to the industry press. Anyway, in the rush to list or map companies, too much emphasis is often made of the who, rather than why.

Inevitably the same will be true of the green IT market. Greenwash is already appearing to cover any cracks that suppliers want to hide, but it will also be down to the commentators to make sensible analysis.

Computerworld recently published a ranking table that listed the top 12 Green IT vendors. Suffice to say that IBM led the table, followed by BT, the only non-US company in the list. The judging was by three experts who developed a scoring and weighting scheme based around the motivation and organisation within the company, measuring energy use, recycling, and data centre and facility energy conservation.

The problem here is, how do you compare like with like? The different energy requirements of software supplier Microsoft (6th place) and hardware manufacturer Hewlett-Packard (7th place) make it difficult to compare the two in anything more than a simplistic way. It would be more meaningful to count carbon emissions to create a per employee or per $ revenue measure, but even that would only make sense when comparing similar companies, i.e. hardware or software or services.

Even then, comparisons can be difficult. Just comparing outsourcers, as the Brown-Wilson Group did last year, means that you are comparing infrastructure outsourcing companies such as EDS with applications and BPO specialists like Accenture. They have very different energy needs and it’s much easier for infrastructure outsourcers to reduce their carbon footprint than BPO companies (or project services players).

Arguably the Computerworld approach is more of an assessment of corporate responsibility. But CRO magazine has also recently completed its own ranking, covering all of CSR with particular weight given to climate change and environmental issues. In this list Intel came out as the number one company overall, with IBM the 4th IT company in the list, beaten by Sun (which was 12th in the Computerworld rankings).

So, readers of these rankings need to be circumspect about their meaning and value. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t attempt to produce the rankings, because, lets be clear, as of now IT companies will be judged by customers and prospects on their green credentials.

© The Green IT Review

No comments:

Post a Comment