Help Your Company Get Totally Green

CIOs from JohnsonDiversey, Marriott and Hudson Highland share how they contribute to sustainability beyond IT

Brent Hoag, VP and CIO, JohnsonDiversey

It's not all or nothing

Because of JohnsonDiversey's corporate commitment to sustainability, our leaders have been embedding it in more and more of our function objectives. For IT, this means looking at each project through a filter of how the project is affecting our overall corporate sustainability goal. This filter includes the standard measures of energy savings and carbon footprint, but we evaluate these factors across the whole solution. Shifting the impact to a partner or vendor is not a win in our book; a solution, such as our move to cloud computing, is only considered a success if it truly lessens our global impact on the environment.

But CIOs shouldn't be fixated on finding a 100 percent green solution for every IT or business need. Focusing that narrowly, and sacrificing evaluation of other potential solutions in the name of sustainability, will affect your company's performance. Backups and complimentary systems that are not green will often need to be part of the solution, and these should be factored into the larger environmental impact, not considered failures. The big question is whether or not your solution has had a positive effect on your company's impact, overall.

Wendell Fox, Senior VP of IR Shared Services, Marriott International

Think beyond Green IT

IT has been a part of Marriott's Corporate Executive Green Council from the beginning, helping to form the strategy for our Spirit to Preserve initiative and thinking about how IT can support that vision. Much of that support comes through more traditional initiatives, such as moving to virtualized desktop environments, using only Energy Star-rated hardware, and training security personnel to measure and adjust data center temperatures rather than using an automated system. As in that last case, sometimes the decision to not automate a process will bring better results in both sustainability and cost savings than turning to the most cutting-edge technology available.

But we are also always looking for how IT can help Marriott's global sustainability goals with initiatives that are not considered "green IT." One project that has had a huge practical impact was our move to make some fairly simple additions to our corporate website. Spirit to Preserve is highlighted on our front page, and behind that is a sub-site providing information about Marriott's partnership with the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation and a system for online donations. We also have a special site for arranging EcoEvents, giving planners all the information and resources they need to set up green meetings and events at our properties. These are not exactly IT projects, and they do not have the usual performance metrics or financial goals, but IT can significantly enhance them to the benefit of the company and the environment. When IT is truly part of a company's sustainability strategy, the CIO's vision will span beyond the IT function.

Michael Whitmer, Global CIO, Hudson Highland Group

Deliver on the Bottom Line

With economic conditions continuing to change, CIOs and their staff must focus more than ever on the value they bring to the businessdirectly or indirectly, everything we are doing has to support the objectives of the company. But while our 2010 objectives at the Hudson Highland Group are primarily focused on managing costs, that goal can fall in line with projects that will contribute to environmental sustainability.

One of our top initiatives for the coming year is virtualization of our servers and desktops, and our technology road map is definitely pointed in the direction of keeping less of our technology infrastructure on traditional, energy-hungry ground. Another new initiative we are exploring, and that will likely have a big impact on all goals in 2010, is cloud computing. We are working closely with Google to move as much as possible to their solutions, and we are examining this offering from the perspective of gaining efficiencies in business processes and in IT maintenance and costs across e-mail and our application environment. That it is a more-sustainable solution will make a difference more in the long term than against current goals.

Hoag, Fox and Whitmer are each members of the CIO Executive Council, a global peer advisory service and professional association of more than 500 CIOs, founded by CIO magazine's publisher. To learn more visit council.cio.com.

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This story, "Help Your Company Get Totally Green" was originally published by CIO Executive Council.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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