Green IT Adoption: Lessons from the Philippines Business Process Outsourcing Industry

Green IT Adoption: Lessons from the Philippines Business Process Outsourcing Industry

Alexander A. Hernandez (College of Computer Studies, De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines & College of Information Technology Education, Technological Institute of the Philippines, Manila, Philippines) and Sherwin E. Ona (College of Liberal Arts, De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines)
DOI: 10.4018/IJSESD.2016010101
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Abstract

Green Information Technology (GIT) refers to using information technology in ways that help to reduce environmental impacts including the use of energy more efficiently and reducing waste. To date, however, few studies attempt to provide a holistic understanding of GIT adoption in developing countries, which GIT plays a significant role in achieving a sustainable environment and economic performance. This paper explores the practices, processes and enablers in GIT adoption within the Philippines Business Process Outsourcing Industry (BPO). The authors used the revelatory multiple-case study as a research approach in understanding GIT adoption in BPO organizations. They found five areas of GIT adoption covering IT procurement, IT applications as low carbon enabler, working environment, data center and IT end of life management. Essentially, strategy and governance, processes, structure, people, technology support, and measurement and improvement enabled GIT adoption in BPO organizations. The authors further found that BPO organizations have the strong long-term commitment to environmental sustainability.
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1. Introduction

Green IT refers to the using of Information Technology (IT) resources in an energy-efficient and cost-effective manner (Bose & Luo, 2011), and it is foreseen as the most important strategic technology in the imminent future. According to Mines (2009), the GIT service market was expected to reach nearly $5 billion by 2013. Organizations are now actively pursuing GIT solutions for a multitude of reasons and benefits, including lower power consumption, lower costs, lower carbon emissions, less environmental impact, improved system performance and use, increased collaboration and interaction amid constituents, space savings, and an agile workforce (Bose & Luo, 2011). According to a 2009 GIT report surveying 426 companies in North America including a total of 1052 companies worldwide, 86% stated that it is significantly important that their IT organization implement GIT initiatives. This report also states that 97% of these firms are at least considering a GIT strategy (Symantec, 2009).

GIT is attributed to the initiatives and programs that directly or indirectly address environmental sustainability. According to Siegler and Gaughan (2008), GIT is about information technology and system initiatives, including programs that address environmental sustainability. It also addresses energy consumption as well as waste associated with the use of hardware and software which tends to have a direct and positive impact (Jenkin, McShane, & Webster, 2011a). Hilty et al. (2006) also support this view by stating that the production, use, and disposal of IT have a direct effect on the natural environment and eco-sustainability (Hilty et al., 2006). Estimates indicate that the IT industry accounts for 2% of global CO2 emissions, which is equivalent to the amount generated by the aviation industry (Goasduff & Forsling, 2007). Jenkin et al. (2011b) outlined the objective of GIT to be reducing the overall environmental impact of Information Communication Technology (ICT) by adopting a number of measures ranging from (1) taking environment-friendly approaches to the production; and (2) use of IT equipment and facilities to optimize the use of ICT equipment along with network infrastructure in order to reduce energy consumption at every stage.

A study by the Australian Computer Society (2010) noted that in 2009, Australia’s ICT users consumed 13.248 million KWh of electricity which generated an equivalent of 14,248 million tonnes of CO2 emission, which is nearly 2.5% of Australia’s total emissions (539 million tonnes). In 2010, Google’s overall consumption of electricity was reported to be 2.26 million MW h (Albanesius, 2011). As Google has operations and major servers in many countries with different types of energy sources and different Green House Gases (GHG) emission rates, it is difficult to translate accurately this energy consumption figure to its GHG emission equivalent. Corbett, Sayili, Zelenika, and Pearce’s (2010) analysis of articles published in the CIO magazine shows that economic benefit is the most commonly cited driver for Green IT. In Australia, the ANZ Bank’s initiative to eliminate screensavers has resulted in approximately 4% reduction in the annual electricity bill with an estimated value of AU$500,000 per year (Molla & Cooper, 2010). A global survey of 1260 IT professionals indicated that 50% are concerned about climate change (Info-Tech, 2008). Governments, in particular, can encourage the adoption of Green IT by legislations that create the framework for a low-carbon economy (Chen, Boudreau, & Watson, 2008).

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