Home > Uncategorized > Developing An Eco-System For Green Tech

Developing An Eco-System For Green Tech

I haven’t seen this evangelized much, but there’s at least one dirty little secret in Green Marketing, particularly in Green Tech: your one widget, by itself, is not going to improve climate change in any appreciable fashion, nor are business customers likely to flock to your product because you tout its green benefits.  This is especially important as more money is being thrown at green product development: According to a January 2008 report from The Cleantech Group, investment in Green Tech increased from $3.6 billion in 2006 to $5.18 billion in 2007.  As a strong downstream market is created for Green technologies, companies will obviously want to have marketing programs that resonate with their customers.

If you market well, you’ll be able to sell more widgets.  But it’s critical to understand the system – in this case, a true “eco-system” –  around those widgets to truly make an impact to the world and to your business customers.

Why is this the case?  Can’t I get more people to buy more of my, say, servers if I can show that they are more green?  From the end-user’s perspective, it’s not that simple.  Being more green can help drive improved brand perceptions, but, unless you are Toyota, this is not necessarily tied directly to green product sales.  I’ve spoken with hundreds of customers in the IT space, and the following trends are apparent:

–  Customers, as people, care about Green technologies, but they are still business people that have business budgets, SLAs, and requirements,

– They care about price and performance, and are willing to pay slightly more for a green technology if it falls within a 10% performance difference,   and

– The amount IT managers care about Green is directly proportional to the corporate pressures they are receiving to be more Green.  This is becoming increasingly apparent as very large companies start to apply pressure to Green (now a verb) their global supply-chains.

This last point speaks to the marketing opportunity around the ecosystem: if I’m a customer, and my corporate mandate is to be more green throughout my operations, your energy-friendly device is only going to do so much for me.  There are so many other things in my IT world that I need to worry about, including: security, systems management, data integrity, uptime, data center rack infrastructure, data center cooling infrastructure, OS updates, etc.  Every piece that I change impacts I do my job, and every piece matters as it relates to lowering my overall energy footprint.

When I was at Dell last year, we did some innovative work in this space, through building a partnership with Emerson-Liebert.  Dell makes a line of servers that they claimed were “Energy Smart,” meaning the systems consumed much less power than their “standard” siblings.  Emerson-Liebert makes overhead cooling systems that efficiently manage the airflow and cooling of servers in a rack, which they claimed would reduce overall data center power consumption.  Both companies put their engineers together to test what would happen if a data center moved to this combined infrastructure.  One of the results from the testing delivered as much as a 65% reduction in facility power while maintaining the same level of performance.  This is demonstrable value in moving to a greener solution – a value that’s bigger than the individual pieces – and this is the kind of ecosystem that customers need to see to really extract the “green” value from a particular device.

Marketers would be wise to show how their devices work together with other vendors’ devices to truly deliver lower power consumption.  The combined green value as an ecosystem can make a big difference for the end-user, and the value that IT can add to their corporate green initiatives can help them be perceived as leaders in their markets.

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