Christopher Mines [Posted by Christopher Mines]

At its green summit event last week, IBM brought together a powerful collection of vendor partners to address customers' sustainability challenges and opportunities. The Green Sigma Coalition is notably different from other vendor partnerships in the green IT space, for three reasons:

  1. It includes the building and physical infrastructure players.ABB, Eaton, ESS, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Schneider, and Siemens are all on board with this effort. So the promise is there, at least, to connect the IT/digital world with the physical world of HVAC, meters, and other building systems that are critical to energy and environmental management (EEM).
  2. It embraces co-opetition.SAP and Cisco are on the roster along with IBM. Each of these IT heavyweights can make a case that it belongs at the center of a corporate EEM architecture, which means that some conflict is inevitable as the market matures.

  3. It is loosely-coupled.This collection of aspiring EEM vendors does not have everything figured out at the start. They do not have an all-encompassing architectural vision (my guess is that they actually have several of them). They don't have a detailed go-to-market strategy fleshed out. Instead, they will experiment in the market, forming ad hoc pairs and triplets to serve specific customers and customer segments.

During 2009, the priority for these players will be to create "showcase" projects with customers that illuminate their capabilities to address EEM challenges.

Overall, an impressive step for IBM and its partners toward positioning information technology suppliers to help customers address the broad array of environmental challenges and efficiency opportunities across the entire enterprise. Forrester is currently researching a Market Overview Report on EEM for publication at the end of the summer; our overall approach to understanding IT vendors' green market opportunities is here.