Then there's outbound logistics, "activities required to collect, store, and distribute products or services." One example here is UPS: The organization has a flow software program that helps delivery trucks eliminate left-hand turns from their routes. "In 2007, it saved 3 million gallons of gas -- equivalent to $8.4 million (using the 2007 average retail price of gasoline of $2.80 per gallon) and 32,000 tons of CO2 emissions."
Speaking of UPS, the company also found a technological solution to saving paper and boosting efficiency in its operations (another area cited by Forrester that can benefit from green tech): The company uses Handheld sp400 All-in-One to print handling instructions directly on packages. "Coupled with wireless communication capabilities, UPS can eliminate the inefficient system of moving trolleys loaded with thermal printers, PCs, monitors, and keyboards to accomplish the same objective," Forrester notes. This approach is expected to save UPS 1,338 tons of paper per year and reduce operating costs by $18.8 million by 2013; it will also help UPS avoid $11.8 million in capital costs.
Another business operation that can benefit from green IT, according to Forrester, is HR management by replacing travel with tools for virtual work, such as IM and teleconferencing. Accenture has certainly realized the benefits of these technologies, both in terms of boosting efficiency and reducing costly, eco-unfriendly international flights.
Forrester also cites marketing and sales opportunities, such as offering "financial incentives to encourage customers to take advantage of paperless billing and payments."
All in all, companies have a host of opportunities to leverage information technology to streamline operations, cut costly waste, and reduce their impact on the environment. Although knowing what types of products and practices are out there is a good start, the Forrester report notes, challenges remain in developing your company's own green agenda, choosing the right technology, and getting everyone on board.
I've just skimmed the surface of the Forrester report "The Rise of the Green Enterprise: A Primer for IT Leadership's Involvement." The report is available for purchase for $279.