Green agenda to raise IT spending

Environmental initiatives are expected to lead to an increase in spending on technology, as businesses aim to reduce their carbon footprints and introduce new ways of working.

A survey of UK technology leaders found that two out of five companies plan to increase the use of video conferencing technology, whilst more than half of staff are willing to work remotely in order to help their employers meet green targets. At the same time, 43 per cent of CIOs are willing to pay more for equipment and services from "sustainable" suppliers.

Companies increasingly see online collaboration tools as an environmentally-friendly way to improve business productivity, whilst video conferencing is being used more and more as a way to reduce business travel. Technology vendor Cisco estimates that its own internal use of video conferencing has reduced travel costs by around $100 million (49 million).

Businesses are also increasingly likely to believe that environmentally-friendly business practices will also improve profits. Better ways of working was cited as a benefit by 37 per cent of IT heads, and 58 per cent believe that a green agenda will save them money. Sustainable business practices also play a growing role in attracting and retaining staff, including in IT.

"CIOs are highly involved in driving the green agenda. Increasingly CIOs are on a green council or serve as a green ambassador," said David Meads, operational director for Cisco in the UK and Ireland. "Sustainability is very much a board level issue but IT departments are very much the people who can drive it, along with departments such as HR. If you look at technologies such as unified communications, these are both sustainable and help to improve profits."

The survey, carried out by Vanson Bourne and YouGov for Cisco looked at the role of IT in delivering sustainable business practices. As many as 61 per cent of CIOs say that sustainability is an important issue for them, and in one in four companies, IT leads "green" initiatives.

However this contrasts with other recent research that found that IT heads were often ignored when it came to drawing up environmentally-friendly policies.