As the September 30 deadline passed for UK firms to register for the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Scheme, IT workers are marching to the carbon mitigation front line. A new report from analyst firm Ovum predicts the emergence of a multi-billion-dollar market over the coming years for carbon accounting solutions.
By Helen Beckett [Published 05/10/2010]
Enter the carbon accounting solution
Efforts by governments across the world to reduce greenhouse gases are creating a wave of new regulations that will require IT systems and skills in order to comply. Carbon accounting systems will be purchased by companies scrambling to comply with the new rules, and who turn to software and service providers for help as they realise how complex and data-intensive the job will be.
Major enterprise applications vendors and additional systems integrators are moving into the arena, recognizing that its complex data requirements play to their skills. "In particular, they realize that the management of environmental data could – and will likely– be a natural extension of the core functions in enterprise resource planning, analytics, and enterprise performance management", says the report’s author, Warren Wilson.
Make processes visible
"Any business managing a carbon footprint, particularly carbon intensive businesses, will need IT solutions that provide maximum visibility into their own business processes, their suppliers’ processes, and relevant external data”, comments Wilson. The IT solutions should also provide flexibility to adapt as regulations and business conditions change.
It’s expected the cost of compliance will partially be offset by not only more efficient energy consumption but also stronger overall business performance, however. Quocirca is one UK IT consultancy that is responding to fresh interest – and requirement - in how to make IT greener.
Reform business practices
Chiefly, the consultancy advises clients chiefly on how to make energy efficiency savings in their use and implementation of IT systems. The chief difficulties faced by the average IT department cited by Quocirca is the eco-unfriendly composition of legacy kit, and also legacy business practices, which are hard to reform”, according to Bob Tarzey, analyst and director at Quocirca.
In the emerging carbon mitigation and compliance market, Tarzey reckons outsourcing will be a key tool as IT chiefs seek to achieve compliance and reduce their department’s emissions by outsourcing carbon emissions. Ethically, this may be controversial, but it is permitted by the current CRC framework.
Outsourcing a quick win
Tarzey concurs with the Ovum belief that carbon mitigation will ultimately make for stronger business. While outsourcing may help companies comply with carbon mitigation regulations in the future, "third party data centre services are more power efficient and resilient, and this makes for more resilient business continuity", he says.
However, for many businesses, IT is a relatively small component of their overall carbon footprint and the department’s greater role will be to help businesses activities whether they’re in travel, supply chain or retail. In this realm, Tarzey envisages greater investment in kit and skills for users: "there will be a better use of communications tools, video conferencing and advanced applications for driving business process efficiency."
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