I’d like to propose a new, broader definition for the term “Green IT”. Different sources have ‘formally’ defined it in a variety of ways (though, let’s face it, the definitions tend to vary based on the source), there is always a kind of universal norm or received idea about what a term means.
When the industry first began talking about Green IT in and around 2007, the term was often used as short code for data center efficiency. By 2009/2010 and following the introduction of enterprise power management solutions for the desktop, the industry began to expand the term’s boundaries to include activities focused on power management more generally. Though defined more broadly, the term Green IT still seemed to be a doppelganger for virtualization and PC power management.
Then a few months back I read a piece that argued Green IT as we know it is over, and that the future of Green IT lay in smart buildings and facilities management. Which is to say, no longer in the technology organization.
I remember being roundly annoyed at the time. I take a systems approach to environmental sustainability and enterprise operations, so segmenting the term never really goes over well with me. To my mind, segmentations of that kind tend to be arbitrary and usually overlay corporate politics and competitive business silos. Which is another way of saying it tends to stir some unfortunate pot, rather than supporting enterprise collaboration toward a common goal.
Hence my overly simply, proposed new definition for Green IT: “A technology solution designed to advance individual and communal sustainability efforts.”
Pretty basic, right? That’s the point. Technology plays a critical role in our daily lives to such an extent that people have begun to not even recognize it as such. “IT” is more than desktop support—In our modern world, IT is what enables our most banal daily activities. So smart building management? Absolutely Green IT. And the hot new trend of engagement via gamification? That’s Green IT, too.
Enough of these false dichotomies. No more codifying Green IT into imagined market segments. It’s time to bring our efforts together.