Contractors can Create Competitive Advantage With Green IT Business Strategies

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Federal mandate to reduce energy consumption by 30% allows for solutions to energy crisis

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It turns out that it is more than another box on the compliance matrix, however, because green means both environmental stewardship and cost savings to federal agencies.

Contractors that don’t incorporate environmental impact into their business strategies may be missing out on a competitive advantage. Agencies face growing information demands, rising costs, shrinking budgets, and a federal mandate to reduce energy consumption by 30% by 2015, increasing demand for solutions that reduce agencies’ costs and environmental footprint. According to a recent report from INPUT, the authority on government business, contractors that build the environmental efficiencies of their solutions into business strategies, proposals, and customer discussions stand to gain an edge.

“Industry has been wondering how to embrace this green movement,” said Deniece Peterson, senior analyst with INPUT. “It turns out that it is more than another box on the compliance matrix, however, because green means both environmental stewardship and cost savings to federal agencies.” Green IT is a growth market that presents near- and long-term opportunities for contractors. But contractors need to incorporate the government’s environmental objectives into their business planning by identifying the environmental impact of their solutions, developing metrics to help agencies set benchmarks, and recruit talent with niche expertise.

Green IT solutions can cover a broad range. For electronics, agencies are required to use the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) to acquire environmentally-friendly electronics, as well as ensure that Energy Star features are enabled on computers and monitors. Contractors not on the list of EPEAT-certified products will have a tough time selling to government. Virtualization within data centers is also receiving more attention due to the massive amount of energy consumed by federal data centers. But contractors can look beyond these areas to energy monitoring systems, power management software, application integration solutions, and systems management solutions. Contractors should also consider the assessment and consulting side of green IT. Many agencies lack the baseline energy usage and progress metrics needed to know where they are now, where they can reasonably go, and when they’ve gotten there. Energy audits, infrastructure assessments, and process and policy development are areas where agencies need help.    

Contractors shouldn’t discount other solutions that are not typically considered green. “Green IT is about using technology to deliver comparable or better performance using fewer resources,” stated Peterson. “Solutions such as Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) may not be ‘green’ in and of themselves, but their impact on energy usage could be significant.”

Contractors should incorporate the environmental impact of their solutions into value propositions, engage customers in discussions about their energy objectives, and join organizations like the Green Grid, which works with industry to develop efficiency standards. Peterson also encourages contractors to find a niche in which they have, or can acquire, a deep level of expertise. “Everyone is on the green bandwagon, so credibility and examples of real cost savings will be critical,” she says. “If the front guy of your green initiative is in the marketing department rather than product development, gaining credibility may be an uphill battle.”

These findings and others were released in an INPUT Industry Insight Report, Going Green: Strategies and Solutions to Serve the Federal Government. More details are available at http://www.input.com/corp/library/detail.cfm?ItemID=5869&cmp=OTC-mrgreenit062308.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To speak with the report author regarding this release, please contact Helena Brito at hbrito(at)input.com or 703-707-4161.

About INPUT
INPUT is the authority on government business. Established in 1974, INPUT helps companies develop federal, state, and local government business and helps public sector organizations achieve their objectives. Over 1,300 member organizations, including small specialized companies, new entrants to the public sector, and the largest government contractors and agencies, rely on INPUT for the latest and most comprehensive procurement and market information, consulting, powerful sales management tools, and educational & networking events. For more information about INPUT, visit http://www.input.com or call 703-707-3500.

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Helena Brito
INPUT
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