'Green IT' Not a Priority To Most IT Managers

By Jennifer Zaino

May 27, 2008

A new survey shows that marketing directed at IT leaders that focuses on "being green" instead of on improving the bottom line is not likely to be successful.

Green is being hyped as the new black, at least by vendors interested in getting IT leaders’ attention with tools and technologies that purport to lower energy usage or otherwise reduce high-tech’s environmental impact.

But a new survey conducted by technology products and services provider CDW reveals that, while power and cooling management matter to most IT leaders, green IT matters less. In fact, many of them consider the term itself to be marketing hype, if they understand it at all. Here’s how one survey respondent summed up the issue: “Do you want real Green change? Or is Green just the buzzword of the day to drum up more business?”

Skeptical responses to any marketing message generally arise from several possible factors, says Mark Gambill, CDW’s chief marketing officer: The source of the message is not credible to the audience; the message itself does not strike the audience as relevant; and/or the message has become overexposed, or a cliché.

“In this case, it is possible that the second and third points are most pertinent. Certainly, there has been a green explosion in technology marketing over the past several years," Gambill says. "What we see in CDW’s Green IT Fatigue report most likely arises from technology marketers’ misperception of IT’s interest in sustainability – or lack of interest for that matter.  When you consider what IT decision makers are paid to do – to build and maintain reliable and effective IT systems at the most affordable cost – everything else is secondary, including environmental benefits. 

"So, while an IT person may be applauded for being green, they are more clearly rewarded for making sound IT decisions," he says. "They are telling us that marketers need to address their primary concerns first, and not lead with green IT messaging.”

Cost savings trump green ideals

Sustainable or Green IT, as a descriptive term, is extremely familiar to only 9% of the respondents in the survey of 557 executives from small, medium, and large organizations. In comparison, they are extremely familiar with the terms for the solutions that reduce energy consumption: virtualization (39%), power and cooling management (31%), and energy-efficient IT (14%).

In terms of importance, only 10% of respondents rate sustainable or green IT as extremely important to their IT operations, while 18% say that’s true of energy-efficient IT, 28% say so of virtualization, and 40% of power and cooling management. Only 7% believe green IT is extremely important to their company’s top executives, vs. 22% who say that energy cost control across all operations is extremely important. 

CDW says that, given how cost savings trump environmental concerns, green hype may impede sales of energy-efficient IT equipment. However, that will hurt technology vendors more than tech buyers, says Gambill.

“We should assume that IT will always respond affirmatively to management’s business priorities, and that IT will seek providers who help them deliver on their business mission.  If those priorities include environmental sustainability, then green IT will be a priority.  If not, then trying to sell them on green IT will fall on mostly deaf ears.  You just can’t win if you’re shooting at the wrong target in the first place,” he says. “A backlash against green marketing will only determine who wins and who loses a company’s business.  The study actually implies that technology providers will have greater success if they focus first on the problems at hand for IT decision makers, which clearly include power and cooling issues, for example.  There are secondary environmental benefits to the solutions that will meet those needs, but their primary benefits are in how they help meet IT’s business objectives.” Click here for the rest of the story.

Story courtesy of bITaPlanet.

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