It’s not easy being green

Wax tree frog - HyperoliidaeIf anything is going to annoy IT in 2014, it will be the constant litany of green. From vendors promoting their new green initiatives to management asking what IT is doing about all this green stuff they keep hearing about, 2014 will likely be the year when green technology goes center stage, whether you like it or not.

Now if you are dealing with a mandate from on high to be “green-aware” in your purchases and processes, you’re in luck. Just about every vendor has figured out some way to promote their products as being green. It has become a checklist item on such a large scale that marketing has taken over in so many aspects of the entire green concept that the term itself has become virtually meaningless. But nonetheless, it should be relatively easy for you to hit the green checkbox on equipment and even service purchases in 2014.

Unfortunately, if you are tasked with delivering measureable savings based on green technologies you’ve a much more difficult row to hoe. Vendors are quick to point out cost savings and improved ROI when large-scale deployments of their products are delivered, but in the real world, it is much more difficult to show rapidly observable cost benefits from implementing green practices or equipment. This is particularly true when a green initiative is tackled in the incremental manner performed by most mid-market businesses for these types of IT upgrades and deployments.

This is where you need to put your management and vendors both to the test. It is critical to explain to management that the green savings that they are looking for are incremental, just like the investments that they are making and that if they want to see immediate returns that investment will need to reflect the cost of wholesale changes. And most importantly, as power is a significant chunk of the OPEX expense for IT equipment, the person or persons responsible for negotiating with the local power utilities will have a much more significant impact of the bottom line of IT operations than any sort of incremental IT changes.

With vendors, they are likely to lead with how green they are, it being the buzz phrase du jour. Well make them prove it.  Squeeze them on their claims to your advantage and make sure that you play hardball in your own negotiations. You are probably already doing this to some extent, but call them on every claim and make them back up those claims of efficiency and improved ROI in your environment.

But most importantly, educate the people that you report to as to what green really means. Understanding that a greener environment means an overall holistic approach to operations and not plugging in greener equipment will go a long way to making management understand not just how the business side of the company works but also how IT touches every part of the business and reflect on how IT improvements can translate into overall business improvement.

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