How IBM and HP are Strengthening Their IT-for-Sustainability Offers

Over the past few weeks, computing giants HP and IBM have made significant new thrusts into the market for sustainability software and services. At first look, both companies are strengthening their commitment to "IT for sustainability (ITfS)" -- the use of information technology to help their customers meet their sustainability goals.

Both are prominently featuring "energy" in their messaging in keeping with the current customer focus on that side of the consumption/emissions coupling. And both are emphasizing a combination of software products and consulting services, the two segments of the market that we at Forrester have been tracking for some time now, as regular readers of this blog know by now.

But under the surface there are more differences than similarities in the approach that these two suppliers are taking to ITfS. Differences that illuminate divergent strategies, philosophies, and experiences between them. Let's take a closer look.

HP is going broad; IBM is narrowing its focus. With its initial "Energy and Sustainability Management Services" entry, HP is leveraging its data center design and implementation expertise into buildings and other assets across the enterprise. It is stressing a holistic, top-down approach, starting with assessment workshops and other methods to help customers get their arms around the size and shape of the energy/carbon/resource issues.

It's reminiscent of IBM's "House of Carbon" approach out of its UK-based sustainability consulting organization, circa 2008. Meanwhile, IBM has considerably narrowed its focus since that time. We don't hear much from IBM about the corporate-wide carbon challenge any more; the acquisition of Tririga this week reinforces that IBM's focus is squarely on the corporate real estate and facilities market, a.k.a. in IBM-speak, "smarter buildings."

HP is partnering; IBM is acquiring. HP is going to bring enterprise carbon & energy management (ECEM) software to its customer engagements via partnerships with Hara and C3.