7 Steps To Making Sense Of Sustainable Technology Providers

7 Steps To Making Sense Of Sustainable Technology Providers

Image CC licensed by Flickr user FredCintra

Senior IT decision makers, no matter what industry they are in, are well aware of the role technology has to play in enabling sustainability within their firms.

I'm not talking about 'Green IT' -- that superficial fad was quickly buried under the more pressing concerns of the global recession -- but about a demand for genuine sustainability solutions that IT can provide now.

It might be a system that relates to climate change risk assessments, smart grid, renewable energy, or any other number of technological solutions to the challenges that sustainability presents. But as recent Verdantix research finds, having the answers doesn't mean that buyers are asking the right questions.

There's no doubt about the scale of demand. Following interviews with 15 customers representing firms with combined annual revenues of $160 billion, Verdantix confirmed that every single potential client we spoke to had contracted at least one sustainable technology project over the past two years, with plans to repeat this in the next two years.

What's changing is the nature of these demands. Until now, client priorities have centered on mature sustainable technological solutions, such as carbon and energy software implementation and data center and building energy efficiency projects. But as shareholders, stakeholders and end-clients insist on a greater commitment to sustainability, this pressure generates additional demands for innovative solutions in new fields.

The problem is that while firms or public bodies recognize they need IT support in converting sustainability into an integral part of their business or organization, in practice, senior execs are unclear over what technology providers are capable of offering.

In researching the Verdantix report, "Green Quadrant Sustainable Technology Services 2011," (covered here on GreenBiz.com), we analyzed both ends of the market, putting together a typical client profile through interviews with 15 technology and sustainability professionals and contrasting their perspective with that of 15 technology service providers. Our research revealed seven key recommendations for potential buyers:

1. Start from the Inside Out

First define your firm's sustainability strategy, and then select a technology services provider. It will be easier to match requirements this way.

2. Analyze Providers' Strategies, Too

For a better understanding of a supplier's view of sustainable technology, take a close look at their own strategy -- if your firm shares that vision, all the better.

3. Pinpoint their Partners

Both the quantity, and the quality, of specialist partners are key – most sustainable technology projects cannot function without them. Often the widest network of partners equates to the most robust solutions.

4. Ask for References

True for any technology project, seek out past customer success as proof of the provider's ability to deliver.

5. Evaluate In-house Initiatives

If providers have adopted the specific solutions they are selling in-house, then that's a display of confidence in their own products. If they haven't, ask them why.

6. Identify Expertise

The greater the level of expertise available, the better. Examine the provider's structure to establish whether they have dedicated sustainability practices run by experienced professionals.

7. Look for Integrated Offerings

Providers capable of delivering a wide set of solutions understand the true scope of sustainability. This breadth of services puts clients on a firmer footing as they address their sustainability programs. 

Verdantix research identified Deloitte, IBM and Logica as the leading providers in this burgeoning market. They all scored highly on several fronts, having a strong and holistic set of sustainable technology services, a strong partnership network and an internal commitment to sustainability. On a more specific scale, Capgemini (data center energy efficiency) and TCS (renewable energy IT systems) stand out in particular sectors.

As the market for sustainable technological services grows, so will the risk of confusion over what suppliers are offering. By following these recommendations, buyers will identify a better match for their firm's needs, and will save time and money in the process.

Verdantix clients can access the full report, Verdantix Green Quadrant Sustainable Technology Services, at www.verdantix.com.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user FredCintra.