PwC's green movement offers market opportunities for tech sector

As public awareness and support for global environmentalism increases, technology organizations are beginning to implement green initiatives to mitigate their impact on the planet. However, altruism is just one of many motivating factors behind the green movement according to a recent study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers titled: "Technology Executive Connections: Going Green: Sustainable Growth Strategies." The strongest driver is economic.

Forty percent of technology executives claim the green movement creates significant market opportunities for their companies, as evidenced by a noticeable increase in customer demand for green products and services. Additionally, 60 percent of respondents cite energy savings as one of the most important factors in their company's environmental decision-making process.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, "Technology Executive Connections: Going Green: Sustainable Growth Strategies," takes a comprehensive look at the green technology movement by exploring the key drivers for change, the effect green initiatives have on collaboration and innovation across the technology value-chain, green-oriented regulations, and opportunities for growth.

"The growing demand for environmental products and services could translate into one of the biggest new markets in recent memory," said Bill Cobourn, global & U.S. technology leader and partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers. "Technology companies can exploit this opportunity to drive growth, but they must ensure their green initiatives are in line with their business strategy."

According to the survey, 61 percent of executives feel it is very important (29 percent) or important (32 percent) that their companies take steps to reduce their environmental impact. This shift towards green products, services and business operations is having a direct impact on the level of collaboration and innovation found throughout the entire technology value-chain, including marketing, HR, R&D processes, manufacturing, and supply chains.

As organizations continue to evaluate their own business practices, they are paying closer attention to the actions of their partners and suppliers as well. One in five executives (18 percent) claim their companies practice environmentally preferred purchasing, where organizations select products and services that have a lesser effect on the environment than competitive products and services. Within the next two years, this figure will rise to over half (53 percent).

Technology organizations are also taking steps to safeguard themselves from stringent government legislation and regulations in the future by proactively imposing their own green-oriented controls. Twenty percent of survey respondents say their companies maintain a formal and widely distributed environmental policy. This figure will increase significantly over the next two years, jumping to 48 percent. To further reduce the risk of government regulations, technology companies are implementing a range of other environmental processes such as assessing compliance with internal green practices, appointing senior executives to oversee green programs, and creating a clearer linkage between green initiatives and performance.

A number of technology companies are also issuing Sustainability Reports. Within an organization, these reports can be used to manage operations more efficiently, while minimizing risks. Externally, technology companies can use these reports to highlight their environmental advantage in the marketplace with competitors, regulators and consumers.

While global organizations across all sectors are striving to become more environmentally responsible, the effects of the green movement on hardware manufacturers compared to software companies varies substantially. The statistics demonstrate greater interest and associated green activity from technology manufacturers relative to service-oriented businesses, such as software providers and content developers. According to the survey, 60 percent of technology manufacturers are developing green products and services, compared to only 33 percent of non-manufacturers.

Technology manufacturers are taking aggressive steps to expand their portfolio of green products and services by pursuing energy efficiency, implementing designs that reduce or eliminate the use of hazardous materials, using recycled or recyclable materials, building products that last longer, and creating packaging that meets or exceeds global environmental standards. A growing focus on reducing the weight of products and improving their capacity for recycling is also helping manufacturers better address "end of life" issues such as the recovery and disposal of products that have run their course.

The green movement also presents software and service-oriented technology companies with sizeable growth opportunities. The need for green technology consulting services and software aimed at helping organizations conduct business virtually to reduce travel and thus the carbon footprint will increase substantially in the coming years.

"The pendulum swing towards green technology is unleashing a creative disruption within the global technology market. The pressure is on for companies to respond quickly, make the most of new opportunities and manage their own environmental risk," added Cobourn.

About the Report

The quantitative findings presented in the PricewaterhouseCoopers "Technology Executive Connections: Going Green: Sustainable Growth Strategies," report are based on a survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in September 2007. The survey garnered 148 responses from senior executives based in five principal regions: 28% Asia; 31% Europe; 35% North America; 5% the Middle East and Africa and 1% Latin America.

For more information on PricewaterhouseCoopers Technology Industry practice or to download a copy of the full report, visit: www.pwc.com/techconnect.

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