The development of a framework for Green Information Technology implementation in South African Organisations
Moyo, Tlhalefo Petterson
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This study was primarily an empirical investigation in the field of Information Technology (IT) on how Green IT is implemented by South African organisations. The relative lack of Green IT framework in ensuring succesful Green IT implementation for South African organisations was the primary impetus of this study, which advanced this important, but neglected area of Green IT. The study highlighted the pitfalls of Green IT implementation. This study adopted a realism problem solving approach using an empirical solution to find answers within the field of Green IT implementation in South African organisations. The study focused on the development of Green IT framework for South African organisations. Society's reliance on Information and Technology (IT) has increased tremendously over the years. Unfortunately, the growth of an IT sector is contributing to climate change and raising the cost of energy. In reality, IT consumes large amounts of electricity and consequently placing a burden on electric grids. Furthermore, disposed electronic equipment (e-Waste) contains hazardous materials that are unsafe to the enviroment that cause the release of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the atmosphere and contribute to the phenomenon global warming and climate change and environmental degradation. These environmental degradation and climate change have become a challenge for society. Previous studies highlight that IT industry is accountable for 3% of GHG emission which is approximately equivalent to the aviation industry because of its rate of energy consumption, and projected to increase by 6% during 2020. In the South African context, the highest contributor to GHG emission is primarily the energy sector which contributes about 85% to the total GHG emission, followed by Industrial process and Product use estimated at about 8%, Agriculture, Forestry and other Land Uses projected at 4% and Waste contributing estimated at about 3%. Therefore, action is required to halt the loss of biodiversity in order to tackle climate change for sustainability of the planet ecosystems and survivability of mankind. As a result, organisations are conscientous about going green but they are not sure how to go about it. Green IT holds promise for addressing the broader environmental and health issues in organisations. However, the impact of Green IT in creating a sustainable environment is unknown. Previous research reveals that IT operations inherently have negative effect on the environment in the sense that they consume large amounts of electricity and the disposal of IT equipment causes the release of greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to climate change. Nevertheless, little research has been done to examine the potential of Green IT. In order to address this research problem, the objective of the research was to develop Green IT framework. The framework is grounded in investigating the depletion of natural resources that are caused by IT activities, causing rise in energy consumption and cost in order to protect the health and wellbeing of society thereby ensuring corporate social responsibility and environmental sustainability. In this regard, an in-depth qualitative research methodology was undertaken through semi-structured interviews to gather data in order for South African organisations to implement Green IT effectively. The research made an original contribution to the body of knowledge that has not been made before which is based on primary data collected from South African companies. The study unveiled and filled the growing gap of Green IT implementation by developing a new chain of thought. This was done by creating a Green IT framework and a process flow for Green IT implementation. This Green IT framework, in conjunction with the process flow for Green IT implementation, will provide business with enormous benefits such as reduction in energy and business cost of about 30% that will translate into financial returns, environmental protection, human health and wellbeing protection and ensuring corporate social responsibility. The findings demonstrate the responsible approach and practices that can be used by organisations to achieve environmental sustainability. The results of the study exposed a research gap on ecological issues, e-waste management, energy consumption and Green IT strategy. The study provided practical guidelines that will assist the organisations to take responsibility for their actions and improve their environmental footprint by becoming green. Furthermore, the evidence from the study revealed that should Green IT be implemented properly, organisations will increase their bottom lines with millions of rands.
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