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Mobile computing & the green strategy

01 Feb 2010

Reducing travel by greater use of mobile applications is a sound move for reducing costs, and your carbon footprint.With the recent drive for energy efficiency and other environmental considerations, perhaps it is time to review how we justify our investments in key IT solutions. Productivity-based return-on-investment models, which rely on factors such as reduced time in the office for sales people, accuracy, timeliness and increased customer satisfaction, have been the mainstay of business cases for what can be a very significant technology investment. However, we now need to add something else to this already long list: consideration of the environment.We are now seeing many early adopters deploy their second and third generation of mobile technology. For these businesses, providing their field-based personnel with the ability to interact with their company’s IT infrastructure in real-time has proven itself time and again. For resellers, these technology refreshes provide an opportunity for ongoing revenue with existing clients. It is, however, a very crowded market. And this, along with the recent downturn in the economy, has meant many mobile technology solution providers have had to look for a key differentiator to help them to win new business. Organisations that have not already adopted mobile technology have probably held off because they do not see its value in terms of a productivity-driven, return-on-investment model.It is not always technology that creates new opportunities; rather it is changes in the political, social and commercial environments. The real opportunity is in how technology allows people and businesses to cope with or take advantage of these changes. This applies to mobile computing solutions. We are currently seeing a real drive to save the planet and halt global warming by reducing emissions and pollution through various government-funded initiatives and legislation. Almost without exception, mobile computing applications, whether for sales, trade, fleet management, delivery tracking, or providing critical data to emergency services, have one thing in common: the use of fossil fuels and the resulting impact on an organisation’s carbon footprint. It’s worth considering building the environmental impact of a solution into any business case.Let’s consider the following example: based on an online calculator (, every 10,000km driven in a Mazda 6 Station wagon (2006, 2.3l, 5 door) would produce 2.83 tonnes of CO2. Let’s say as the result of introducing mobile computing you are able to achieve efficiencies which result in your field-based staff being able to achieve the same results while only needing to travel 7500km. Your emissions for operating that vehicle would be reduced to 1.79 tonnes of CO2 (1.04 tonnes). Now assume the same car has a fuel rating of 9.5l per 100km: the fuel saving for this scenario is 237.5l ($380 at $1.60/l). Say your company had a fleet of 20 of these cars: that would be a reduction of over 20 tonnes of CO2, a reduction in fuel consumption of 4750l, and a saving of $7600 on your company’s fuel bill for every 10,000km travelled by your sales team.Now, I am not suggesting that this scenario will in itself provide the total justification for introducing a mobile technology. However, it is worth looking at the impact of reducing carbon footprint as part of the overall justification. The legislative changes relating to our environment provide yet another reason for businesses to adopt mobile computing as part of an overall IT strategy. Resellers who understand this, and how to quantify its benefits, will set themselves apart from the rest of the crowd when it comes to winning that lucrative mobility deal.

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