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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

May - 2012 - issue > Technology

IT in India Is 'going Green' really the way forward?

Himanshu Joshi
Professor-International Management Institute
Friday, May 4, 2012
Himanshu Joshi
Although much effort has gone into making IT more energy efficient, there is still a great deal of skeptics associated with turning energy efficient. More than the cost of technology, the bigger problem lies with the awareness levels and culture surrounding it. Decision makers and probable adopters of Green IT practices in India don’t seem to be too much convinced about the business benefits. This is evident from the fact that the concept finds its place only in few large enterprises. The champions of ‘Green IT’ believe that rising cost of energy will force users to look at the concept more seriously. But until and unless the apprehensions surrounding Green IT are put to rest, the rate of adoption will continue to be dismal. Some organizations which have put in serious efforts have emerged as success stories. What is needed is a concerted effort in technology design and policy making. Both public and private sector organizations along with the government will have to play a bigger role in making it happen. Success will depend on how well companies understand and address the challenges and apprehensions around it.

Challenges and Apprehensions around Green IT Adoption

According to Bill Weihl, Google’s Green Energy Czar, information and communications technologies (ICT) currently account for about two percent of global energy use; however, ICT is the fastest growing segment (Abazorius, 2011). In India, with falling prices of IT equipment like PCs (desktops and servers), laptops, printers, and scanners etc., the usage is bound to increase multi-folds. Similarly, with falling prices of mobile handsets and calling rates, the number of connections and in-turn the global gas emissions is bound to multiply. According to United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 2010 report, sales of electronic products in countries like China and India and across continents such as Africa and Latin America are set to rise sharply in the next 10 years. Further, the report also warns about the challenges associated with e-waste generation and disposal. The report predicts that by 2020 e-waste from old computers will have jumped by 200 - 400 percent from 2007 levels, and by 500 percent in India while, e-waste from discarded mobile phones will be about seven times higher than 2007 levels and, in India, 18 times higher.

Therefore, the real challenge for ICT industry would be to control carbon footprints. Still, majority of the Indian organizations don’t have a green strategy in place. Most have adopted some or the other Green initiative, but don’t have a formal strategy. "I believe cost savings and environmental sustainability are both important. If there is no cost saving, there won’t be any takers of it. Green IT reduces resource consumption thus saving cost and reducing emissions. Thus, there is a strong case for Green IT," says Rakesh Dhyani, CEO of Celerity Infosolutions, an IT Services company operating in Delhi/NCR. But going green is not cheap. According to Gopalratnam (2011), extensive alteration to existing infrastructure such as datacenters, computer systems, building power systems and air conditioning are capital extensive.

There is no doubt that Green IT is good for environment and financial sustainability but there is very little documented on the extent of money going down the drain due to lack of awareness about Green IT. Businesses can be wasting money by not understanding what’s going behind the IT (Kline, 2011). The real challenge organizations face is to determine the cost savings from Green IT initiatives. It’s important to automate the audit and reporting mechanism of emissions, which, in most cases is done manually. The problem becomes more complex and consolidation becomes impossible if done manually, if the organization operations are geographically dispersed across locations.

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