IT needs can create green procurement issues

The need to procure new technological tools has risen considerably over the past years. IT teams now play a more critical role than ever within the operations of contemporary enterprises, and as such, firms are looking to equip their tech specialists with the resources necessary to boost agility, maximize efficiency and remain as competitive as possible.

But the effort to obtain new hardware and software in cost-effective ways brings companies face-to-face with a perennial issue in the procurement process: sustainability. While most firms may think of green logistics in terms of large-scale issues - transportation and production, for example - technological infrastructures also have environmental impact. And as IT architectures grow, so do the levels of energy consumption associated with them.

REI struggles with data center planning

Companies that have moved increasingly toward digital channels as part of their business models are finding that technology sprawl is having a marked impact on energy use. According to GreenBiz, outdoor apparel specialist REI recently had to enlist the help of sustainability consultant CLEAResult after the rapid boom of its e-commerce component resulted in an unwieldy data center.

REI had moved to a single-platform approach, with the same infrastructure hosting its online marketplace and the electronic point-of-sale systems for its brick-and-mortar outlets, the news source reported. What had once been a single-room IT infrastructure had grown to take up an entire 6,000-square-foot floor at the firm's Seattle headquarters. CLEAResult helped REI understand just how much energy the infrastructure was consuming and developed a plan to reduce power usage. In accordance with the spend management needs of the retailer, the consulting firm implemented a strategy that made the existing environment more energy-efficient rather than starting from scratch.

"We are thoughtful about our environmental impact, and we needed this initial accounting to understand where things stood," said REI Corporate Social Responsibility Manager Kirk Myers, according to GreenBiz.  

Cloud computing as sustainability strategy

With REI's experience in mind, companies should ensure that their strategic sourcing efforts for new tech tools coincide with their sustainability initiatives. In this endeavor, cloud infrastructure may prove a valuable asset. With cloud computing, companies can outsource some of their data storage needs to a third-party vendor. 

A study by CDP found that cloud adoption could reduce tech-related energy expenditures by $12.3 billion in the United States by 2020. As companies increasingly opt to move certain assets off-site, they'll be able to invest in more sophisticated in-house infrastructures and create more effective procurement strategies for these resources.

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