ICT can improve environmental sustainability

Friday, 17 April, 2009

Telstra and the WWF-Australia have launched a white paper that highlights how information and communication technology (ICT) can improve environmental sustainability for large organisations and deliver positive commercial outcomes. It also introduces a set of tools to enable Australian enterprise and government organisations estimate the environmental and financial benefits of ICT investment.

The launch comes as the Australian government’s proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) gets closer to implementation in 2010, setting financial incentives for organisations to adopt alternatives to increasing energy use and non-essential business travel.

Using the new return on investment (RoI) tools developed by Telstra and Capgemini, organisations can estimate the commercial and environmental savings from investing in four specific ICT solutions — videoconferencing, flexi-working, web contact centres and field force management. The tools estimate greenhouse gas emission reductions and employee productivity outcomes by assessing the financial costs and savings to the company for each alternative.

For example:

  •  Videoconferencing: A large company that spends approximately one million dollars in interstate travel per year could save 200 tonnes of CO2 per annum by implementing a high-definition videoconferencing service that could be paid off through reduced travel expenditure in around seven months.
  • Teleworking: An organisation with 1800 employees could reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 500 tonnes of CO2 per annum by encouraging 200 staff to work remotely from home three days a week.
  • Web contact centres: A contact centre with 150 employees could avoid approximately 130 tonnes of CO2 per annum by providing 50 employees with access to an online contact centre system from home for three days a week. The ICT investment could be paid off through productivity improvements in around 11 months.
  • Fleet and field force management: An organisation with a field workforce of 500 employees could avoid approximately 600 tonnes of CO2 per annum by adopting a mobile field force management application on a wireless device. The investment could be paid off through reduced energy expenditure in around six months, providing annual savings of about 10%.

Telstra Enterprise & Government Group Managing Director  David Thodey said sustainability practices were now a critical business issue being driven by a variety of factors including government regulation, corporate social responsibility and increasing economic pressures.

“Sustainability and productivity are two key issues facing Australian organisations,”  Thodey said. “While some larger organisations in Australia have already invested in environmental sustainability programs, many have a limited understanding of how ICT solutions can help deliver environmentally sustainable growth.

“This white paper explains how network-centric ICT solutions can be instrumental in achieving environmental sustainability outcomes and delivers a set of tools so organisations can make stronger business cases for those investments.

“Only Telstra has made the significant investments in world-class wireless and IP networks that enable enterprise and government organisations to leverage such tools. Through Telstra’s transformation program, our customers get access to the Telstra Next G and Next IP networks that hold the key to ICT solutions improving environmental sustainability for large organisations and at the same time delivering positive commercial outcomes.”

Speaking via videoconference at the launch, the Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator the Hon Penny Wong, said Australian organisations should be thinking about making their operations more sustainable now.

“Teleconferencing and other ICT solutions can help reduce our carbon footprint, which is why the government has taken steps to make greater use of teleconferencing,” Senator Wong said.

Telstra will be providing a copy of the Sustainability White Paper to its enterprise and government customers and is offering sessions to use the ROI calculator to explore potential savings through ICT investment.

A full copy of the Sustainability White Paper can be found online at www.telstra.com/enterprise/sustainability.

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