One sure thing about business analytics and business intelligence is there’s always a learning curve especially in emerging areas such as “Green IT” – the practice of finding more economical ways of computing to reduce costs and environmental impact. And real-time data about network use, IT resources and other office equipment we take for granted is finding a partner in business intelligence applications. The result is a more precise picture of what it costs your company to deliver goods and services.
In 2008, IT researchers at Cutter Consortium found that one-third of U.S. companies surveyed and more than half the UK companies had a long-term plan for reducing environmental impact and lowering carbon emissions. Demand from consumers who wanted less waste and lower prices, but also eco-sensitive materials and recycling. And business intelligence is critical to proving those goals are being met.
The global recession only pushed companies to do more with less sooner – whether they wanted to be Green or simply wanted to lower costs and work more efficiently. Fortunately, BI and analytics software doesn’t make judgments on whether your projects are bottom-line driven or mission-related for a noble purpose.
Results are everywhere: from Virgin Airlines offering flyers a chance to buy carbon offsets and plant trees to Apple touting smaller packages as more efficient in reducing the volume of freight containers and cutting the number of trips needed to deliver products to market.
Now Cutter is surveying companies to learn more about the metrics and definitions of those programs – to see what specific goals are being set and how they’re being monitored. The survey wrapped up the first week in October and results should deliver new insights.
Call it ‘intelligence about business intelligence’ if you like.
Skeptics contend “Green IT” is just a marketing-driven approach – called “greenwashing” – with exaggerated claims of recycling and eco-friendly practices to improve corporate image. But Sun Microsystems and other companies are seeing bottom-line savings, more accurate long-term planning and lower costs by taking the a big-picture view.
Only about 5 percent of companies are monitoring their on-going electrical, IT and other expenses using BI to capture data and alerts for warnings of overuse or under-performing assets. The data can also accurately forecast growth, according to Anthony Cataliotti of Sun. In a presentation on data center energy use, he reported that Sun cut out 2.2 megawatts of power use, recycled 430 pallets of outdated IT equipment and won a $1.2 million rebate from an electrical utility for its work in redesigning data centers. Globally, the company ‘right-sized from 152 data centers to just 14.
“We went up a learning curve and saw an order-of-magnitude improvement,” he says. “We could match heating and cooling to the IT workload. We have metrics of all kinds, being a company of engineers.
In an estimate from The Climate Group, desktop PCs, monitors and printers may produce three times as much CO2 and power consumption compared to data centers. The UK-based group encourages companies to make greater use of videoconference and work-from-home options to cut down on expense and reduce carbon emissions.
How is your office getting greener? And what sort of BI and reporting are you using to make sure it’s bright green?
Spotfire Blogging Team
image credit: Mircrosoft Office Clip Art