Green IT a growing opportunity for vendors

By Healthcare IT News
10:58 AM

Green IT initiatives will take on added importance in the next few years as more organizations commit financial resources and develop comprehensive strategies, according to a study released this week by CompTIA, a non-profit association for the information technology industry.

Among organizational priorities, green IT initiatives tend to rank around the middle. But CompTIA’s Second Annual Green IT and Insights study suggests the trend line is headed upward. In 2009 only 9 percent of firms rated green IT as an upper half organizational priority. That figure stands at 37 percent in 2011 and is expected to rise to 54 percent in 2013 – a nearly five-fold increase from 2009.

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“Given the intense cost‐cutting focus during the tough economic times of the past few years as well as periods of high energy costs, it’s likely many firms eyed green strategies as a means to help the bottom line,” said Tim Herbert, vice president, research, CompTIA.

The study could signal a smart play for healthcare IT vendors, as more providers express a desire for technology products and services that have a green component.

More than three-quarters of organizations surveyed said they factor green into their IT purchase considerations for products such as desktop and laptop computers, printers, monitors, servers, data storage and other networking equipment.

“In particular they’re concerned with factors like power consumption, with two-thirds of companies rating this as a major factor in their IT purchase decisions,” said Seth Robinson, director, information technology analysis, CompTIA.

Other highly rated green factors impacting purchase decisions include a product’s power management capabilities (63 percent) and ease of disposal/recycling (58 percent).

[See also: Hospital construction focused on environment, technology.]

The CompTIA study shows 35 percent of organizations report having a comprehensive green strategy for practices such as reducing energy consumption, equipment usage/design, recycling/product disposal, carbon footprint and employee behaviors.

Among firms without a comprehensive green strategy, 48 percent expect to have one within two years. The remaining firms either expect a longer time horizon for adopting a strategy or are uncertain. This suggests many organizations continue to wrestle with the return on investment in green initiatives.

Part of the challenge is defining exactly what’s meant by the term green IT. “Green IT remains a fuzzy concept for many,” said Herbert. “Use of the term and its interpretation vary widely.”

Reducing energy consumption – cited by 67 percent of respondents – and the recycling of obsolete IT products or e-waste (63 percent) are the practices most strongly associated with green initiatives, according to the CompTIA study.

“While technologies such as virtualization or cloud computing may go a long way towards optimizing resource use, fewer respondents currently make the association with green,” Herbert noted. “IT executives and respondents from large firms, those with more than 500 employees, are slightly more likely to view virtualization as a green strategy.

Organizations with comprehensive green IT strategies already in place are significantly more likely (91 percent) to factor green into their IT company hiring decisions than companies with partial (55 percent) or no (18 percent) green strategies, the study finds. Mid to large companies are also more likely to consider green factors than smaller companies. More than seven in ten companies with 100 or more employees say green is an important factor, compared to just five in ten companies with less than 100 employees.

Nearly three quarters (74 percent) of the organizations surveyed by CompTIA say the ability to help implement IT initiatives that conserve energy is a top factor when considering which IT companies to hire.

“IT resellers who are knowledgeable about energy conservation can use that knowledge not only to help current customers, but to attract new ones as well,” said Brenda Chan, senior research analyst, CompTIA.

The CompTIA study also suggests that health IT hardware and software vendors, value-added resellers, solution providers, carriers and distributors should be able to "walk the green IT walk" if they expect to win a provider’s business.

“The majority of companies (63 percent) indicate that how green an IT company is and how knowledgeable they are in implementing green initiatives are important hiring factors,” Chan said. “Being green may entail efforts to reduce energy consumption; manufacturing, purchasing and using green IT products; having an eWaste system; holding green certifications; or demonstrating expertise in green regulations.”