ROI, not eco-friendliness, a bigger selling point for green tech

Interest in green technology is out there, but price remains the No. 1 barrier to wider-spread adoption

Interest in green technology is out there, but price remains the No. 1 barrier to wider-spread adoption, far more so than skepticism that green tech is really good for the environment. Those are among the survey findings released this week by Green Factor, a joint initiative between Strategic Oxygen, GCI Group, and Cohn and Wolfe aimed at "illuminating 'green' marketing opportunities and further[ing] 'green'-focused research on a global scale."

In surveying more than 3,500 IT decision makers worldwide, the group found that more than 70 per cent of the respondents "'probably' or 'definitely' would increase their preference for a brand's green products if they were convinced of the positive impact on the environment and business." Moreover, nearly 60 per cent said they would expect to pay a premium for green products.

The problem appears to be that many companies remain unconvinced that the potential pay-off is worth the extra cost of green-tech products. The survey found that in nine of the 11 countries polled, "price" was the top barrier to green adoption. Another common barrier cited by participants: "Efficiency gained will not offset costs."

Notably absent among the top concerns was that "buying 'green' products has no real impact on the environment." Twenty-four per cent of respondents in Germany had that view, generally twice that of respondents from other countries.

The results of the survey lead me to further believe that vendors need to put more emphasis on the potential cost savings of green IT. When I read announcements about new green products, I often see companies measuring savings carbon emissions, pounds of e-waste, trees, and annual kilowatt hours. I consider those all important metrics, certainly, as do many organizations -- but they're harder to wrap your head around than cold, hard cash.

And let's face it: Long-term financial savings through green tech has broader appeal than environmental benefits. After all, not all companies (or IT-purchase decision makers) are necessarily concerned with investing money to benefit the environment, but all are (or should be) interested in cutting costs.

Thing is, highlighting cost savings shouldn't be too tough to do. Yes, green products do tend to come at a higher price. However, much of that has to do with the fact that they're new. Companies need to cover the costs of the engineering, design, and pricier components (highly efficient power supplies) and materials. Over time as volume increases, costs should go down.

But even so, despite the potentially higher sticker price, as well as deployment costs, green technologies can still deliver a predictable ROI. Virtualization and PC power management software, for example, have easily measurable payback in the right situation. So, too, does green hardware -- servers and PCs, for example, built for energy efficiency and longer life.

There's also print-management software, which cuts expensive print waste; even telepresence and other tools that can reduce travel expenses. The list goes on.

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More about: GCI Group, ING
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