Ethical and Social Issues in Information Systems Case Study

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WIPRO IT Business Solutions

Green Initiatives by Wipro

Green IT is defined as the study and practice of designing, manufacturing, using, and disposing of computers, servers and related components like monitors, printers, networking and communications devises and storage drives such that it has no impact on the environment. (Murugesan, San, 2008). The objective of green IT solutions is to:

a) Reduce the application of hazardous materials

b) Maximize energy efficiency during the product life cycle

c) Promotion of recyclability or biodegradable materials to minimize wastage.

The challenge of green technology is twofold, first to make computers as much energy-efficient as possible and second is to design algorithms and systems that effectively use computer technology. Wipro has initiated the green IT with consolidation and visualization. Computer visualization is the notion of computer resources like the process of running two or more logical computer systems on one set of physical hardware.

Wipro Ltd. is a global corporation in the field of Information Technology. The company has been taking comprehensive measures since 2006 to address the climatic change conditions into their products and service delivery. Some of the initiatives taken by Wipro were innovative and were first such initiatives taken in India. The company had structured a goal of becoming carbon free by 2014. To accomplish this goal and take strategic measures to it, Wipro had established a governing body named as EcoEye. The committee consists of seven senior managers amidst which three of them were directly reporting to company's chairman in their functional areas. The council had endorsed 120 projects focused on carbon free environment. Wipro green initiative was also reflected in their hardware production and named it as Greenware. The new range of products under the category of Greenware was made complaint with the European Restriction of Hazardous Substance (ROHS). ROHS use six hazardous materials to manufacture various types of electronic and electrical equipment. Methodology was adopted to make new PCs free from brominates flame retardants (BFR), polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and heavy metals like cadmium and mercury (Directive of the European Parliament of the Council, 2003). Green IT initiatives taken by Wipro was not confined to specific projects but the company had considered it as ongoing innovation aspect which meant to discover opportunities for company to diversify into business and product lines that will make great impact on the customer and society as a whole.

The three compulsions that had propelled Wipro to take green IT initiatives were: regulatory, physical and general. The most recent initiative taken by the company was setting up of two subsidiaries as part of their diversification strategy which was distinct from the core business. However, company's diversification into these setups has portrayed company's commitment to eco-businesses. Wipro has setup EcoEnergy system in June 2008, established to offer customized eco friendly solutions in clean energy to clients in all industries. EcoEye was inclusive deed for ecological sustainability. The objective of this charter was to make company

a) carbon free and water-positive organization

b) sustain decent levels of biodiversity marks

c) set standards in recycling waste

d) Assist employees achieve a smaller ecological footprint in their personal lives as well.

The company had offered wide range of products and services that had aimed at improving process efficiency for customers. Example of such initiative is that the company structured Intelligent Document Management that helped customer manage, archive and store paper and electronic documents. It is e-logistics management service providing a plat form for connecting to all sorts of travel networks like airlines, freight forwarders and customs thus helping paperless interaction and multi-format transmission of data for customers. Intelligent Smart Device Technology designed to efficiently manage infrastructure system across processes. It reduces the need for unnecessary maintenance inspections which eventually reduces carbon emissions. Company had tried to reduce travel cost and travel time and for this purpose it had established Unified Communication strategy that helps client to switch to teleconferencing and multimedia conferencing for the purpose of overseas communication. The Virtualization policy of the company enabled them to operate multiple operations system without the need to purchase additional hardware. It consolidate the functions of underutilized severs to compressed machines that reduce the cost of hardware and benefit the company on power, cooling agent, commercial space required and maintenance of the machine.

E-waste program was announced by Wipro in September 2006. It provided 16 collection centers all over the country for e-waste. E-waste disposal program was initiated for their customers. The objective was to collect discarded systems from computers and sent them to vendors who have been authorized by the Pollution Control Board to dispose of the parts.

Benefits Reaped by Wipro for Green It

The diversification of Wipro into the green business had benefited the company manifolds. Wipro had reduced its servers from 400 to 100 that had enabled company to save on power annually to about 1 million KWH. The e-waste management initiated by the company enabled end-to-end e-waste management in its product lifecycle, spanning, designing, and manufacturing and up to the final disposal of the products.

Wipro had initiated its efforts towards Corporate Social Responsibility through a program named Wipro Applying Thoughts in Schools; it started in January 2001 (Wipro Corporate website, 2011). The program had focused on primary education till grade 8th on community level. The purpose of this program was to promulgate among community that Wipro is Knowledge Company. The scope of this program was its network spread in 30 organizations in 17 different provinces of India.

The objective of this program was to generate change agents through regular Educational Leadership Programs for school principals and teachers to help them create skills among students for environmental friendly solutions. This program was concentrating on building occupational skills, personal skills and managerial skills. The program was providing 125,000 hours of training to over 2,500 teachers and principals in 100 schools. The trainers for this program were gathered through Wipro Cares which an in-house initiate was taken to mobilize volunteers from the company and their homes to participate in this social cause.

Teleconferencing and telecommuting initiative taken by the company in response to green business program had benefit the company in many ways. It had increased workers satisfaction, reduced greenhouse gas emission due to travel, saved lot of travel cost of the company and also saved lot of travel time of its employees. Company had increased its profit margin due to overhead cost reduction like light, power, travel expenses, office space and heat etc.

Data centers are considered to occupy bulky space and extraordinary high energy demand. This was the primary focus of the green business. Wipro had used the technology of consolidation through which it consolidates its various applications in single unit. This had benefited the company with bulky space requirement and high energy used in the datacenters was also minimized.

Challenges Faced by Wipro

Wipro is faced with many challenges during its transitional phase into green business. Converting non-green datacenters to green datacenters is not an easy task. It requires heavy initial investment of Rs. 6 million for the process of virtualization. There was a big question mark for the company that will it be able to earn over this heavy investment? After all the company is profit oriented organization has to ensure its sustainability through continuous stream of profit margins over the years. The challenge was if the diversification of business into new unit didn't work out it will adversely affect the complete product line of the company and will risk the return and investment made by the stock holders.

Recycling computing equipment launched through e-waste was made to keep harmful materials like lead, mercury and hexavalent chromium out from the land dubbing saving the environment from poisonous gasses. Computer systems that have been obsolete can be re-proposed or donated to various charities and non-profit organizations. The disadvantage from this recycling is that computer and related items gathered through the recycling process are often shipped to the developing countries where they are sold on half prices. This is the major challenge of company's product international market coverage and its image which gets distorted due to the marketing of second hand products in these international markets.

Learning Point from Wipro Case

Wipro had adopted a strategic framework for diversification of its business into green IT solutions. Wipro Green IT initiates can be had identified 23 target areas for turning organization green. These targets are classified in four broad categories (Bose, Indranil (2009):

Strategies: Green IT strategies ensure that the company didn't operate in isolation rather it is linked to company's roles and objectives. The strategies under this banner are further classified as:

1. Green IT plan

2. Strategic Framework and Roadmap

3. Organizational change

4. Green Procurement policy

People: Aimed at reducing carbon traces from the lives of individuals. Four areas accomplishing this purpose are:

1. Awareness

2. Involvement in policy making

3. Behavioral change

4. Enablement

Facilities and operations: It includes five areas of improvement at the…

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