As the global business community continues to increase its efforts towards become more environmentally friendly, or green - thanks to a combination of cost savings and social awareness, though cost is likely the greater driver - the communications industry can play a significant role in helping reduce the environmental impact of business operations
What was once considered merely a trendy concept has now taken on a significant role in the business landscape, with the majority of business executives confirming that eco-sustainability is not only important, but is, in fact, a key consideration
when making communications technology investments.
That fact is evidenced by the growing number of technology vendors that are focusing marketing efforts on their own green technology, like Alcatel-Lucent, which has also devoted an entire issue of its online magazine (a green initiative in its own right), Enriching Communications,
Alcatel-Lucent CEO Ben Verwaayen kicks off the features is this issue discussing eco-sustainability as a critical global concern that must be accepted not only a responsibility, but an opportunity. "Growing through green will accelerate investment in innovation, create and drive new markets, and spark fundamental business and social transformation," writes Verwaayen, adding that the most successful businesses going forward will be those that not only manage their own environmental impact, but help others' carbon reduction initiatives as well.
A new set of guidelines regarding eco-sustainability will be introduced by the United Nations shortly. Verwaayen invites the global telecom community to join Alcatel-Lucent as it seeks to keep the 2 percent of carbon emissions currently produced by telecom equipment and, in fact reduce that figure.
Alternatives to traditional energy sources have, for some time, been considered viable sources of sustainable power by some groups, but only now have they become part of mainstream discussions with the rising cost of energy and increased focus on eco-sustainability. Rich Garafola, Director of Sustainable Power, and Frederic Wauquiez, Marketing Manager for Eco-sustainable Wireless Solutions, at Alcatel-Lucent, discuss not only the growth of alternative energy, but also the role the telecom sector can play in driving economic development by tapping these energy sources - particularly wireless operators.
Many business are already giving greater weight to vendors leveraging alternative energy sources and, the ability to reach off-grid subscribers in rural and underserved areas, especially in developing markets, depends on the ability to leverage alternative energy sources. The article cites two examples of operators successfully harnessing solar energy to power base stations - in Senegal, West Africa and the Ivory Coast-- allowing them to deliver next-generation communications
services while helping grow the local economy.
There can often exist a gap between what business say should be done and what they put into practice. In this article, Axel Haentjens, Vice President of Marketing, Brand and External Communications, Orange Business Services, discusses how "telecom providers can leverage their internal efforts to streamline processes and improve energy efficiencies while providing a living lab." Not only do Orange's internal eco-sustainability initiatives show its customers what is possible in terms of cost savings and efficiency, but by practicing what it preaches, Orange also has positioned itself as an authority on eco-sustainability.
Since 2006, Orange has, through virtualization strategies, reduced its hardware infrastructure by approximately 70 percent, resulting in a savings of 20 gigawatt hours. It also has developed and adopted a number of strategies to lower data center cooling requirements and costs, including circulating fresh outside air and seeking facilities with lower ambient air temperatures.
"While we have realized significant and tangible benefits from these projects, Orange Business Services has also been able to engage with our enterprise customers on eco-sustainable business development from a thought leadership position," write the authors. "Along the way, we have identified some of the critical pre-conditions that must be in place to ensure the practical success of green IT and other eco-sustainable business strategies."
The increased global focus on "greenness" has created a need on the part of telecom vendors and operators to understand how to best leverage eco-sustainability to increase customer loyalty and, of course, revenue. Patty Wong, Eco-sustainability Marketing Program, and Lisa Ciangiulli, Director of Marketing, Global Advertising Solutions, at Alcatel-Lucent explore how operators turn eco-sustainability into revenue generating opportunities.
The key questions operators must be able to answer in order to accomplish this goal include:
- How can telecom operators create green business models that transform consumer concerns about sustainability into loyalty?
- How critical is social purpose in consumer purchasing?
- Who are the green shoppers?
- Will consumers pay a green premium?
- How large is the gap between believing in green and buying green?
Operators' ability to effectively monetize their eco-sustainable technologies relies on their ability to effectively answer these questions. This article cites the efforts of T-Mobile and Sprint, which have both embarked on campaigns to help their subscribers join the growing community of environmentally friendly consumers.
"Good corporate citizenship, and working with others in providing consumers with more education about eco-sustainability are steps in the right direction," write Wong and Ciangulli.
SITA Ile-de-France (SITA IDF), a subsidiary of GDF Suez, provides environmentally conscious waste management solutions to business and government entities, and has adopted a strategy that mandates its vendors not only offer quality and value in their products, but meet its environmental and sustainability standards.
Jean-Luc Grèzes, Director Information Systems, SITA IDF, discussed how the company's supplier selection process focuses on eco-sustainable solutions.
"We ask potential suppliers many searching questions about their sustainable development policies, in terms of equipment energy consumption (both power usage and cooling) and the long-term sustainability of their products and systems," writes Grèzes. "Are the products recyclable? How is product end of life managed? Their answers greatly influence our supplier choice decisions."
That process resulted in SITA IDF choosing Alcatel-Lucent for its LAN solution - its OmniSwitch meets not only performance requirements, but also consumes 20 percent less energy than competitive solutions. In addition to also trialing geolocalization applications to modify route planning in real time in response to customer requirements and traffic congestion, SITA IDF has also deployed Alcatel-Lucent's DPS (Dynamic Power Save) technology, which puts equipment into power saving mode during periods of low data traffic and can even help reduce power consumption during peak periods thanks to advanced monitoring techniques.
"Sustainable development is our business; we know how a green business strategy can translate into reduced costs and increased profits."
In this video feature, Vivek Badrinath, EVP, IT Networks and Product Support at Orange, and Michael Lawrey, Executive Director, Network & technology, Telstra Networks and Services, discuss how their respective companies are leveraging eco-sustainable technologies that benefit not only their own businesses, but also drive cost efficiencies for their customers.
Orange has implemented sustainability factors into its procurement process, checking that energy cost of its own network infrastructure equipment as well as customer premises hardware is optimized. Badrinath says it is looking for vendors that "leave the lowest footprint on the ecosystem," while also considering the entire equipment lifecycle and end-of-life processes.
Lawrey explains that Telstra, which is one of the biggest users of solar power in the telecom space, harnesses the sun's energy to power many of its exchanges and optic-fiber repeater sites in Australia. It is also looking to develop and deploy more eco-sustainable solutions that he expects will enable it to reduce its data center energy consumption by up to 40 percent.
These articles and video present a variety of perspectives on eco-sustainability, with the common focus of helping reduce the environmental impact of the global telecom industry, and, perhaps more importantly, can help drive initiatives to reduce carbon emissions and energy utilization across other sectors as well.
The next issue of Enriching Communications
will continue this discussion, focusing on the innovation and opportunities made possible through the development of green technology.