It seems that everywhere you turn these days, there's some sort of talk about going green. The IT industry has not been immune to this trend; major vendors such as IBM, Microsoft and HP have been pushing the green agenda for a couple of years now with products, services and strategies to cut power consumption and save money. And there's some indication that the green IT trend is gaining serious traction among companies of various sizes.
So could some eco-friendly know-how help you advance your IT career? It very well could – but no matter how much you know, your success will likely depend on how the recession affects spending on green initiatives in the next while.
The Green IT Landscape:
There is no doubt that green IT has made major headway in the last few years. Environmentally-friendly technology recently made it onto staffing firm Robert Half Technology's list of the top 10 investments that CIOs said they would make in the next 12 months. On the list, published in April 2009, green IT was No. 6, cited by 20% of the 1,400-plus CIOs polled.
Symantec Corp. has actually gone as far as to say that green IT has reached critical mass. Based on survey data collected for its 2009 Green IT Report, Symantec found that senior-level IT executives are expressing significant interest in environmentally-friendly strategies and solutions.
Ninety-seven percent of respondents said they are at least discussing a green IT strategy, while 45% have already implemented eco-friendly initiatives. The main motivations cited in the survey included: reducing electricity consumption (90%); reducing cooling costs (87%); and corporate pressure to be "green" (86%).
The Question of Green Tech Budgets:
This is where we start to see some mixed reports.
Symantec's study, for instance, paints a rosy picture of green IT budgetary projections, with 73% of respondents saying they expect to spend more in the next 12 months, and 19% saying they expecting increases of more than 10%.
But research firm Gartner Inc. is more cautious. Overall, the results of Gartner's December 2008 survey on the impact of the recession on green IT suggest that tough economic times are not expected to change the priority of green IT projects, especially in Europe and Asia/Pacific.
However, one-third of U.S. organizations said they anticipated reducing the priority of such projects in 2009. This could very well lead to a slowdown in hiring for green IT projects until the economy picks up.
Clean Tech Skills In Demand:
The one thing we can conclude is that green IT is not just a fad: it's here to stay, and it's on most organizations' radars.
While there may be some question as to how much money companies will be willing to fork out for green IT strategies as they weather this economic storm, there are indications that most businesses are moving in the general direction of environmental friendliness, driven by cost-cutting requirements. It will only be a matter of time before green IT becomes "business as usual."
Below are a number of skills you can focus on acquiring if you want an edge in an increasingly eco-conscious IT job market:
- Green procurement: ability to select the right energy-efficient equipment for your company
- Knowledge of carbon reporting and offsetting
- Server virtualization knowledge and experience
- Server consolidation know-how
- Knowledge of and experience with videoconferencing
- Familiarity with software-as-a-service