Green is the Way to a Customer’s Heart and Wallet

Crm_today CRM Today
Research Report

Organizations are just beginning to recognize that being seen as
green is good for business. The difficulty will be making sense of
the initiatives, and verifying if they do equate to carbon-neutral, or
are just a marketing ploy.

This week has seen the likes of Tesco, BT, and British Airways announce
they are joining together to extol the virtues of Corporate Social and
Environmental Responsibility (CSER). In the IT world Michael Dell,
founder and chairman of Dell Inc, announced at the Consumer Electronics
Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week that it was time IT took a lead in
environmental issues. Butler Group, Europes leading IT research and
advisory organization, believes that other organisations are just
beginning to recognise that being seen as "green" is good for business.
However according to Roy Illsley, Senior Research Analyst with the
firm, the difficulty will be making sense of the initiatives, and
verifying if they do equate to carbon-neutral, or are just a marketing
ploy. Full comment from Roy Illsley follows below.

Dell announced a "plant a tree for me" programme at CES. This would
give the customer the option of volunteering US$2 for a laptop or US$6
for a desktop, as a donation that will be used to fund a worldwide tree
planting programme to offset the impact of the carbon emissions used to
generate the power to run the equipment during its lifetime, which Dell
have estimated is three years. Dell did not say if it was donating any
funding to the programme to cover the carbon emissions generated in
manufacture, and more importantly it did not include server products in
the scheme. Servers use more power than laptop or desktop devices
because they are typically run 24×7, while laptop and desktops normally
operate only eight to ten hours per day.

Dell is not the first IT organisation to announce initiatives
aimed at becoming more environmentally aware. VIA, the chip maker,
announced in September 2006 that its new C7-D chip would be
carbon-neutral from an energy consumption perspective. VIA used UK
consultancy, Carbon Footprint, to calculate over its lifetime the
impact the C7-D would have. VIA claim that given a three-year lifespan
the C7-D would require four trees to be planted.

This questions the Dell announcement as the C7-D is only the
processor chip, and if used at full capacity of 1.8GHz it consumes 20W
of power. Therefore, the question is whether US$6 for a desktop covers
the cost of being carbon-neutral. I would contend that using Carbon
Footprint’s figures and an estimate from IE, a UK-based desktop
management vendor, that an average desktop consumes 200W, and that US$6
would need to fund the planting of considerably more than four trees to
be carbon-neutral.

However, another vendor that is very much aware of
environmental responsibilities is HP, which for many years has embedded
Global Citizenship as one of the seven core elements in its corporate
objectives. It is also worth noting that HP has been recycling products
since 1987; it developed the Designed for Environment (DfE) policy in
1992, and entered into a joint initiative with the World Wildlife Fund
US (WWF-US) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its operating
facilities worldwide in 2006.

Butler Group believes that other organisations are just
beginning to recognise that being seen as "green" is good for business.
However, as HP clearly demonstrates, if you do not generate
headline-grabbing announcements that are aimed at the customers, then
your efforts will largely go unrecognised. As customers and investors
push organisations to consider environmental issues, we predict that
2007 will become the green year, with many more carbon-neutral
initiatives being announced by leading vendors. The difficulty will be
making sense of the initiatives, and verifying if they do equate to
carbon-neutral, or are just a marketing ploy.

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