he software industry is in a uniqueposition. It is part of a broad ICT industrythat accounts for two per cent of globalcarbon emissions (according to Gartner2007). At the same time, by providing applications that enable businesses to better manage their environmentalimpact, the software industry plays a vital role in thesustainability solution, that should not be underestimated.Software applications are key to enabling organisations'effective monitoring, measuring, managing andreporting on sustainability indicators such as carbonemissions and embedded water. Without the rightsoftware solutions in place, businesses cannot beexpected to effectively deliver carbon reduction targetsand other sustainability objectives. Although the UKGovernment relies upon the software industry to enablesustainable business practices, it is questionablewhether it fully appreciates that for organisations to implement green software applications, anenvironment that promotes their successful uptakeneeds to be created. Working together with the softwareindustry, the Government could create a powerful forcefor change. With the software industry having alreadydeveloped a number of key applications to supportorganisations' environmental management andreporting requirements, the time is now right for theGovernment to create the necessary environment forsuch green applications to flourish. If the Governmentfails to work closely with the software industry tofacilitate change, the creation of a strong greeneconomy will remain a remote utopia.THE SOFTWARE INDUSTRY IS THEBACKBONE OF A GREEN ECONOMYBusiness application software is entrenched into mostglobal businesses, enabling organisations tocommunicate and effectively carry out everydayprocesses, from procuring goods through to staffappraisals. The far-reaching impact of softwareapplications means that the software industry is well-placed to help businesses to operate sustainably. Software applications can provide organisations withthe vital intelligence they need to fully understandtheir environmental impact. Without knowing howmuch carbon they emit, what emits the most carbonand in which areas of the company, how canorganisations effectively bring about reductions? A range of software applications are already readilyRight:Softwareapplications can provideorganisations with thevital intelligence theyneed to fully understandtheir environmentalimpactTHE UK SOFTWARE INDUSTRY CALLS ON THEGOVERNMENT TO ACTINNOVATION 062TECHNOLOGYTDEAN DICKINSON, MANAGING DIRECTOR, ADVANCED BUSINESS SOLUTIONS; AND JAIRO ROJAS, DIRECTOR GENERAL, BUSINESS APPLICATION SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS ASSOCIATION (BASDA)
available to help businesses to monitor theirenvironmental impact and operate more sustainably,from carbon accounting solutions through toautomation technologies that replace manual, paper-based practices with less wasteful electronic processes.However, the environmental value of these applicationsis still not fully recognised by many businesses. Thisleaves IT providers, together with software bodies suchas the Business Application Software DevelopersAssociation (BASDA), with the task of trying to convinceorganisations that implementing the right applicationsis crucial to sustainable working. In addition to software vendors' own solutions, BASDAis in the process of rolling-out Green XML, a dataexchange standard that supports organisationsworldwide in collecting, exchanging and reporting onenvironmental impacts. It is hoped that this willbecome an industry standard to help businesses tocommunicate (in a common software language) thecarbon footprint and embedded water of all purchases.BASDA Green XML also provides the structure for fullenvironmental reporting, giving software vendors ahead start for the future. Ultimately, Green XML willassist businesses with sustainable purchasing whilstsending "green" ripples throughout the supply chain. BASDA launched Green XML at the Global Business ofBiodiversity event in July 2010 and already a numberof software developers are incorporating the technologyinto their existing software solutions. One softwarecompany has incorporated Green XML into itselectronic marketplace. Used by over 400 academicinstitutions and many public sector organisations, thismarketplace offers users a way of reviewing the carbonfootprint of a purchased item at the checkout and thendeciding if they wish to offset the transaction.Suppliers to the marketplace can also choose to haveall sales automatically offset. The introduction of Green XML means that, as well asthere being a range of distinct green softwareapplications on the market, there could soon be acommon industry software platform that provides asolid foundation for a green economy. This, of course,is excellent news. However, rolling out such technologyis not a small feat and, once again, the challenge is toconvince organisations of the benefits of implementingGreen XML to transact with customers and suppliers.THE CHICKEN AND EGG SCENARIOAt present, there is what can only be described as a"chicken and egg" scenario. The software industry hasalready developed a number of applications to enablea green economy. However, those suppliers that deliversolutions which provide pure environmental benefitsare currently seeing low market demand, which isperhaps unsurprising in view of the current economicclimate. This market situation is not encouragingINNOVATION TECHNOLOGY063?