Users put vendors on the spot in a Green IT panel debate in London, calling for less bloated software, clearer standards and consistent messages.
Panellists at the Environmental IT Leadership forum, held in London on Tuesday, debated the environment merits of stretching the IT refresh lifecycle, and investing in virtualisation, cloud technology and thin client devices to reduce their carbon footprint.
The audience, at the event organised by the environmental charity Global Action Plan , was made of CIOs and IT decision makers.
Panellist Richard Steel, president of Socitm and CIO at Newham Borough, called for more innovation in technology to tackle climate change issues.
"IT is about innovation. We have to recognise the demand for power for these products and concentrate efforts to offset this," he said.
Socitm members, said Steel, want benchmarked systems with lowest cost IT. "But it doesn't matter how efficient the technology is if it is not used effectively," he said. The challenge for business now is around how to use ICT effectively."
Catalina McGregor, chair of the government's CIO/CTO Council Green ICT Delivery Group, advised delegates to "sweat the assets".
"Vendors are not bad at pushing hardware. But it's better to sweat the assets than refresh, taking into account that it's hard to dispose of old technology in terms of recycling, landfill, energy of exporting. This is the case, even if the new PCs use less energy."
Steve Bowden, CTO for sustainability at IBM, said: "Hardware is relatively cheap now compared to five years ago. But at the end of the day it's how you use the technology. Traditionally we've not been optimal in how we use it."
Bowden added it's up to IT departments and technology companies to "get their house in order and then go out and impact the rest of the world."