IT, on the face of it, is not very sustainable. New products are introduced in rapid development cycles that encourage wasteful frequent upgrade and replacement. Not only do the products consume precious metals and other resources, but the manufacturing processes are energy intensive and systems or components are rarely sourced …
Fantastic to see the consistency with which this issue is sustaining headlines with. Hopefully this is a reflection of it's criticality as well as a groundswell of public interest.
More importantly, I think we are finally homing in on the real opportunity for change here - that is, an opportunity for cultural shift.
Many aspects are discussed above which are by no means new - increased use and scope of remote collaborative working, reduction of the hardware demand itself through approaches such as thin client and consolidation (nowadays pushed further within the realms of virtualisation). It has not be technical or commercial issues that have held back innovation on these fronts, it has been cultural ones.
The simple truth is, the real opportunity for reducing environment impact is from changing our behaviours, reducing our cultural intertia … 'if it aint broke' - it can probably be improved!
The day we see CxOs more willing to adapt and embrace change more as opportunity rather than risk - is the day the tide will really turn on this issue.
Alice in Business
You seem to have overlooked the reference to a related article:
wonderland - how to build
Thanks for that Nick - its a great article although I think the truth lies between current practice and your 'wonderland'.
First & foremost I think the difficulties people have with remote working are threefold:
(i) The implication locations should be all-or-nothing. I think people need to be able to 'connect' from wherever their work (or other factors) take them. The primary goal should be to remove the need to go to some random location (such as the traditional office site) in order to do something you go just as well from somewhere else. This may include integrating the 'internet cafe' model with that of serviced office use, for example, such that we can simply use office space at any location (including IT facilities) at some daily/hourly rate.
(ii) The need for far far better infrastructure. I'm sure many of us who are used to using video conferencing over ISDN/broadband will know why we find it so painful - and why face-to-face is still required most of the time rather than just some of the time. We need to push the industry and the government towards supporting truly real-time and high definition delivery ... this means fibre to the kerbside at the very least!
(iii) The need for cultural shift to allow people to separate being at a place of work from delivering value through work. This applies equally to people in an office. [Taking this to natural extremes moves us away from paying for attendance, towards paying for productivity - a huge cultural shift and heavily depends on true knowledge/intellectual capital management].
However - let's not forget, remote collaborative working is only one ingredient here ... we need to think broader and better around adopting technologies for more sustainable IT - which includes the benefits to sustainable business IT can deliver (such as this).