Being green makes for good PR, but businesses need to be commercially successful as well as environmentally responsible. The problem is, most CIOs don’t pay the energy bill in their facilities, and the facilities department doesn’t speak the same language as IT. And while progress is being made in pockets of organizations, it’s typically not being made across those organizations.
While many organizations have undertaken sustainability initiatives such as virtualization or videoconferencing, it can be difficult to manage and quantify benefits across the organization and provide input toward an overall strategic roadmap. That makes it difficult to measure — or optimize — the business value from their IT investments. CIOs have to take a leap of faith that there will be a payoff down the road.
This is one of the reasons behind the development of a global consortium, called the Innovation Value Institute (IVI), co-founded in 2006 by Intel, The Boston Consulting Group and National University of Ireland (NUI) Maynooth. The idea behind IVI is to provide tools and techniques for long-term process improvements by assessing where an organization is at, synthesizing that data and providing feedback. But it’s not a purely techno-centric approach; it’s also about change management with people and processes.
IVI has created an "open innovation" framework, called the IT-CMF (Capability Maturity Framework) to evaluate an organization’s IT maturity level, benchmark with industry peers and best practices, and identify a roadmap for improvement. The consortium is working toward creating a global accreditation standard for IT management, and was recently contracted by the European Commission to develop a European-wide framework for ICT professionalism, with the goal of enhancing ICT practices across Europe, as well as a European Training Programme for ICT managers to drive innovation and competitive advantage.
After three years of research, IVI is now focused on adoption. To date, some 300 IT professionals from 20 countries have interacted with the IT-CMF; patron members include British Petroleum and Chevron. There are currently pilot adoptions in countries such as Australia, Japan and Chile, with many financial services and high-tech firms on board.
"It’s great to do research and write some academic papers, but we’re trying to drive structural change," said Martin Curley, director of Intel Labs Europe and IVI co-director, at IVI’s North American Summit held in Richmond Hill, Ont., in February. "IT is going to be hugely important for sustainability, so we hope this will launch broader adoption in Canada and beyond."
According to IVI, sustainable IT (or SICT) has the potential to realize savings of almost US$950 billion for global business by 2020, but left unchecked the rising cost of energy could drive a 20 to 30 per cent increase in IT spend, equivalent to US$450 billion, over the next five years. But this isn’t just about saving money — the idea behind the framework is to help organizations realize opportunities for new product development and new markets that a greener economy can bring.