How Tech Will Be Critical to Corporate Sustainability in 2011

2010 was not a good year in the IT for Sustainability arena. Amazingly, climate change became a non-issue politically, especially in the US. Sustainability slipped off the agenda of more than one major technology vendor, as green IT seemed to evoke more shrugs than urgency from IT professionals.

But, as well documented by Joel Makower, sustainability continued to rise on the strategic agenda of leading corporations around the world. Perhaps while becoming less visible in the political arena and the press, sustainability is simultaneously becoming more embedded in the policies and practices of companies large and small.

Such cross-currents make predictions tricky, especially when (with apologies to Casey Stengel) they are about the future. But let's plunge ahead anyway. In 2011, two key trends will dominate the IT for Sustainability scene:

1. IT-for-green services are growing at fastest pace among sustainability services.

In Forrester's segmentation of the sustainability services market, we identified IT-for-green services as the top growth category compared to green IT services (for e.g., data center, printer consolidation) and green business services (for e.g., corporate sustainability strategy consulting, regulatory compliance requirements). IT for green services are characterized by professional services helping companies adopt technologies for lowering energy consumption and carbon emissions -- such services as collaboration and conferencing, supply chain optimization, smart grid, road transportation logistics, and carbon and energy management technologies.

This segment today accounts for 28 percent of the total sustainability services market; we projected growth of 52 percent in 2011 compared to 2010, moving from this submarket from $756 million to $1,151 million in worldwide spending (see Figure 1 below). We see Accenture, Atos Origin (especially with its pending acquisition of Siemens Information Services), Capgemini, Deloitte, IBM, and PricewaterhouseCoopers emerging as most prominent players in this market segment.

Figure 1

2. Carbon and energy management is ripe to be tackled by the software community.

Forrester segments the emerging market of carbon and energy management software into three layers, with enterprise carbon and energy management (ECEM) systems placed at the top of the organization, aggregating carbon and energy information from sources in all operations and assets. It's a fast-moving market with new vendors, clients, and partnership formations popping up weekly.

In 2011, we expect the take off of the next evolution of ECEM software, becoming an enterprise-wide solution allowing companies to more proactively govern and manage their sustainability strategy.

Some vendors (and their clients) will drive the evolution while others will stay within the fundamental capabilities of analyzing and reporting energy and carbon information.

As the figure above shows, we estimate a 90 percent jump in worldwide ECEM spending from $165 million in 2010 to $315 million in 2011. CA Technologies, Climate Earth, Enablon, Enviance, ENXSuite, Hara, IHS, PE International, SAP, SAS, and Verisae, are the key ECEM vendors to watch.

Best wishes for an efficient, climate-friendly, and sustainable new year!