Using IT to achieve a greener business, by Yaj Malik

Technology is often lauded as one of the ways climate change can be mitigated, natural resources saved and renewable energy harnessed. According to analysts in the region, Asian enterprises are increasingly recognizing and reaping the benefits of going green.

Yet, what is not talked about nearly enough are the small things enterprises can do to go green – subtle shifts in the way we work and conduct business – that can make a difference. The following steps are aimed at helping enterprises take the lead in protecting our environment and are equally practical for businesses in any industry looking to go green.

Embrace mobile workstyles

The idea that we need “face time” in the office is antiquated. Today’s technology allows most people who work via computers to work anywhere they like and stay connected. Why waste gasoline and release carbon monoxide into the atmosphere when you can start work in the comfort of your home office or a coffee shop? Work should no longer be defined as a place to be, whether an office, cubicle or meeting room, but an activity we do. Additionally, companies today increasingly understand the competitive advantage that mobile workstyles bring, adopting technology solutions that allow their employees to work anywhere, with anyone, on any device, any time.

Meet via technology

Why drive or fly for a business meeting when you can meet virtually? There are video-teleconferencing solutions that make it easy to web conference from any location. Letting people stay in one place but still participate in important discussions saves gas, time and stress. Enterprises that used virtual meetings estimate savings of more than US$10,000 a month in travel costs, in addition to reduced emissions and green benefits.

Beat the PC-refresh cycle

Desktop virtualization, the idea of delivering corporate applications and desktops via a central mainframe to any device, fundamentally changes the way user hardware is provisioned. Enterprises no longer have to factor in the need to replace all their PCs every four to five years. With desktop virtualization, enterprises can enable recycling, allowing their employees to work off thin clients. At the same time, enterprises can adopt a Bring-Your-Own Device policy, allowing employees to work from the device of their choice, saving the enterprise the need to purchase hardware that employees might not be eager to use in the first place.

Go paperless

As we advance into the cloud era, cloud computing offers virtually limitless storage for files and documents, while promising the best security, availability and reliability. There is now no need for employees to print something out and then risk losing or damaging it. Documents can be posted onto the cloud, where they can be easily shared and collaborated with co-workers. The more we can rely on the reliable storage and data protection offered by the cloud, the less we’ll need to use paper and waste precious resources. This also means less clutter, which will also keep enterprises better organized. Content stored in the cloud is also much easier to share, allowing for better virtual collaboration. IT teams can also securely store confidential data in their private cloud, allowing them to embrace mobile workstyles while meeting compliance requirements.

Encourage employees to power down

Computers are often left on all day at work; some workers even leave them on overnight at their desk. This dramatically increases an enterprise’s energy costs. Asking employees to shut down when they are away will save power and money. It may not seem like much but think about how much energy would be saved if this is done for 1,000 computers in the office.

Enterprises and society should continue to advocate and embrace the small shifts each of us can make to make the workplace more environmentally friendly. While we work to create technology that can help turn the tide on climate change, we should also embrace the technology we already have in place to make a critical difference every day.

Yaj Malik is an Asean vice president at global IT firm Citrix.

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