Barely a day goes by without a headline about the impact of CO2 emissions or greenhouse gases on the environment: melting glaciers, vanishing coral reefs, floods and freak weather. Isn’t it! I, therefore, have something interesting to share in this regard.
Few months back, I suddenly glanced through a newspaper to find an altogether new phrase – E2K.
E2K!!! I had heard of Y2K but E2K had never come my way. The phrase indeed seemed untried, but the broadsheet lying next to me added credence to the expression.
It was in fact a story by Thomas L. Friedman in The New York Times and I, as a mark of tribute, will produce the catch line of the American journalist’s story in his words: “Mom, dad, tell your kids: if they’re looking for a good stable-growth career — green consultants, green designers, green builders are all going to be in huge demand. And if they can speak a little Hindi — all the better.”
True, it was Y2K – the millennium bug that threatened to melt down millions of computers when their internal clocks tried to roll over on Jan. 1, 2000, because they were not designed to handle that new date.
And remember that the only country that had enough software programmers to adjust all these computers so they wouldn’t go haywire, and do it at a reasonable price, was India.
And remember that it was this huge operation that launched the Indian outsourcing industry — which is why I have long felt that Y2K should be a national holiday in India.
Having said that, remember this: there is an even bigger opportunity for India than Y2K waiting around the corner. It is ”E2K.”
Well, E2K stands for all the energy programming and monitoring that thousands of companies across the globe are going to undertake in the near future to either become carbon neutral or far more energy efficient than they are today.
Then, is India poised to get a lot of this work? C’mmon, didn’t we hear American businessman and the founder and CEO of Dell, Inc. Michael Dell declare that Dell Inc. would become ”carbon neutral” in its operations by the end of 2008? Dell would take inventory of its total greenhouse gas outputs and then develop plans to reduce, eliminate or offset those emissions.
With a carbon tax or cap-and-trade legislation looming, every day we are witnessing more and more companies doing the same thing. It is going to be the next big global business transformation.
And it’s going to require tons of software, programming and back-room management to measure each company’s carbon footprint and then monitor the various emissions-reduction and offsetting measures on an ongoing basis.
Guess who’s got the low-cost brainpower to do all that? Some of the smartest Indian outsourcing companies are already positioning themselves for the E2K market.
What did Y2K do? It was a deadline imposed by the calendar, and therefore it had a huge ability to concentrate the mind. It became a drop-dead date for everyone.
Thus making your company carbon neutral is not a date, but it is an inevitability. To better compete for such business, Infosys is installing solar systems and other efficiency technologies at its Bangalore campus. Satyam, on its part, is planning to do similar things with its verdant Hyderabad complex, which already has its own zoo.
My impression is that there is certainly a significant opportunity for Indian outsourcing companies. The precise size of that business will depend on the speed and scale at which the carbon neutral policies are adopted by the global companies.
IBM seems to be moving into this space, too. Big Blue knows that even if Indian companies do a lot of the back-room work, there will be lots of front-end jobs nearer the customers.
I am privileged to have seen a report from IBM-sponsored Economist Intelligence Unit, titled “IT and the environment: A new item on the CIO’s agenda?” which investigates the efforts being made by organisations to measure and reduce the environmental impact of the IT function.
The report assesses how these changes are affecting the purchasing, operation and disposal of technology assets within businesses today. The Economist Intelligence Unit’s editorial team in fact executed the online survey, conducted the interviews and wrote the report.
According to the survey, green agenda has never been more important for organisations, yet it would appear that there is much more talk than action.
Experts in India are however relatively skeptical as they feel few Indian organisations appear to have any plans in place to reduce their carbon footprint. They say many people are aware of the impact of IT on the environment, yet few firms are doing anything about it. I disagree, as while writing this blog, I got a mail from Amrita Nanawati, Asst. Manager – Corporate Communications MCX, which had a reminder at the bottom: “Please consider the environment before printing this mail”.
And hey, if you work for a company, find out if it has a carbon reduction programme and then ask the concerned officers what cuts do they intend to make in the next five years?