The CIO Answer to the 2011 Gartner Scenario on Sustainability

Last year I (2010) wrote a white paper called “What’s CSR Got To Do With I.T”? This paper explored why sustainability is so high on the CEO agenda, what that means to the CIO and why immediate action is required if organisations are to remain or become successful. It also describes how IT Service Management (ITSM) will help address the challenges facing the CIO and IT.

Earlier this year Gartner produced a research paper called “The 2011 Gartner Scenario: Current States and Future Directions of the IT Industry”.

The Gartner paper identifies the money-making initiatives, or the big ideas, that warrant CxO attention over the next three years. One of these is sustainability.

It is a beautiful thing when worlds collide!

Both papers are in agreement that despite the need to address rising energy costs which are expected to increase 30% by 2012, there are other key drivers for organisations to face up to the sustainability challenge.

Gartner makes two strategic planning assumptions:

“By 2016, sustainability will be the fastest-growing enterprise compliance expense worldwide”.

“Through 2016, economic, market and stakeholder pressures, more than regulation, will drive improved sustainability, performance and transparency”.

We both reference the Accenture study of 2010 that stated that 93% of CEOs believe that sustainability issues will be crucial to the future success of their business. Both papers make it clear that sustainability is rapidly growing in significance.

The research we both undertook reveals that the drivers for organisations to address sustainability include reputation, brand, profitability, attracting and retaining employees, competitive advantage; risk management, competitive advantage, customer demand and securing long-term viability in the market place.

The Gartner paper says: “sustainability is increasingly about the business value achieved through information-enabled efficiency, transparency, compliance and reputational enhancement”.

Gartner also states: “pursuing an integrated and information-enabled sustainability strategy protects organisations from current and future regulatory requirements and solidifies a positive reputation. It also provides access to substantial savings through, among other things, technology enabled efficiency gains and access to socially responsible investment (SRI) capital”.

The 2010 Accenture study revealed that 72 % of CEOs cited “brand, trust and reputation” as one of the top three factors driving them to take action on sustainability issues.

We both argue that as sustainability has now become a key priority for CEOs, they are now placing expectations on senior executives and the CIO to deliver sustainability business outcomes. Sustainability has become a mainstream issue.

Gartner makes a number of recommendations for the CIO, which I have taken the liberty of paraphrasing:

  1. Get involved in sustainability strategies – IT has a crucial part to play
  2. Think beyond Green IT – think about IT assisting in the delivery of sustainability outcomes across the organisation
  3. Improve energy efficiency – a quantifiable strategy for cost and emission reduction
  4. Don’t wait for regulation – start building the processes, workflows and capabilities now

In my paper, I explore in depth what the CIO needs to do to respond to the pressure from the CEO and undertake the recommendations that Gartner proposes.

The fact of the matter is that IT Service Management and best practice guidance as per ITIL® has the answers. The CIO needs to look no further than the service lifecycle for the solution. My paper describes how each stage of the service lifecycle will address the sustainability challenge.

You can read the paper in full here: What’s CSR Got To Do With I.T?

The Gartner paper is available free if you register at

Details of the research paper are as follows:

Title: The 2011 Gartner Scenario: Current States and Future Directions of the IT Industry

ID Number: G00209949

Publication Date:  20 January 2011

The 2010 Accenture report can be read here.




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