CIOs Need To Have A Plan For IT To Help The Company Go Green

by drjim on January 26, 2011

CIO Who Know What's Coming Are Going Green Today

CIO Who Know What’s Coming Are Going Green Today

Have you had it with all of the “green” programs that you’ve been hearing about recently? As CIOs you’d think that such things would not have much of an impact on the IT organization – I mean, that green stuff really only applies to the folks in the company who manufacture things and run the company’s buildings, right? It turns out that this isn’t the case at all. Just like the impact that IT has on every other part of the company, the CIO is also going to play a role in your company’s efforts to “go green”. Now if you only knew what you had to do…

Phase 1: Same old, same old

The first phase in having the IT department help your company go green is to do what we are all doing right now: help the company do a better job of what it’s doing today.

David Lubin and Daniel Esty have been looking at just what a company needs to do in this and other stages in order to become more green. IT’s role in this is to help the company become more aligned with regulatory compliance and get a handle on environmental-related costs.

Regulatory compliance is never considered to be a contributor to a company’s bottom line. However, IT can play a significant role in streamlining how a company collects and processes the data that they need to be able to submit in order to show that they are in compliance.

Likewise, determining the cost of any process that the company engages in relies heavily on IT systems to collect, store, and process the needed metrics information. Only by doing this can a business case for changing processes in order to become more green can be made.

Phase 2: New Ways Of Doing Old Things

When the green bug bites your senior management team hard, as CIO you are going to see a lot of company-wide green initiatives start to show up. In this phase major transformations are going to be kicked off that will rival IT CRM projects in scope and complexity.

Although on the surface, these projects appear to focus on how the company makes better use of environmental resources, there will need to be an IT layer underneath it all. One of the biggest challenges of going green is that although it may make everyone feel good, the financial results can often be very difficult to measure.

This is where the IT systems come in. Not only do they need to be modified to support the new ways of doing things (perhaps by checking vendors “green status” before permitting a purchase), but they also need to track the expenses associated with the new processes. This needs to be done so that they can be compared with the old way of doing things.

Phase 3: Transform The Business From The Way That It Is

Once the basic green infrastructure has been put in place, the next phase will involve innovations that will build on top of how things are now. IT has a critical role in making sure that these innovations can actually be implemented.

In order for the company to use its green efforts to generate new revenue and grow, smart bright employees will have to come up with ways to leverage the green work that has already been done. As we all know, introducing new ways of doing things within any established company can be quite a challenge.

As CIO you are going to have to streamline the process of identifying these new initiatives and then provide the IT systems and tools that will be needed to make them part of the company’s core operations.

Phase 4: Creating New Business Models and Differentiating The Company

Having made it this far, your company has effectively been able to use its IT resources to reduce the company’s costs while enhancing how it interacts with the environment. In the final phase the IT department will help the company to become more successful.

The experts agree, going green makes good business sense for companies. Once you’re there, IT can help the company to select suppliers that match your level of environmental commitment which will allow you to keep costs low and quality high. Additionally, IT can provide the facts and stats that a firm’s marketing department can use to communicate your green story to customers in order to generate more sales.

What All Of This Means For You

Going green is a good thing for both the planet and your company. The IT department plays an important role in helping a company both become green and then to stay there.

During the four phases of implementing a green infrastructure within the company, the IT department will play an important role. Its responsibilities range from collecting and processing green data to streamlining company processes in order to permit changes to be more easily implemented.

As CIO you are going to be running the show. The companies that fully embrace the idea of going green are the ones that will be around in the future. It’s going to be your job to make sure that the IT department goes green first…!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that the IT department should start it’s own set of green initiatives?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

No matter if you’ve just been made CIO at your firm or if you are joining a new company as its CIO, you are going to be facing the same problem: what do you need to do first? Make the wrong decision and your time as CIO may be very short. Make the right decision, and everything else will be that much easier. Maybe we should take a closer look at what 3 questions you need to be asking right off the bat…

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