Sometimes it is the smaller stories that can have the largest implications.
On the face of it this week's update to one of Microsoft's many business application packages, allowing firms to track their environmental performance looks like just another software release - of interest only to software developers and a few tech-savvy green executives.
But placed in the context of Microsoft's never ending quest to dominate the world of business software it marks a significant step along the path towards carbon becoming the next universal currency.
Other software developers have, of course, got their first.
IBM is pushing its various carbon emission reporting and management systems hard and only this week launched new functionality to help firms track energy use by non-IT systems such as lighting and air conditioning units, while reporting software specialist SAS has been heavily promoting its new tools for tracking environmental performance, and business apps giant Oracle is also rumoured to be preparing a new environmental management product. Meanwhile, smaller specialists, such as carbonetworks and CarbonView, have been offering various emissions management software packages for years.
But these various reporting and accounting suites are, almost without exception, aimed at those large Global 500 companies that have made the clearest commitments to tracking and reducing carbon emissions and as such require automated systems for keeping track of how much carbon their sprawling operations are emitting and where.
In contrast, Microsoft is going after the mainstream. In fact, if you look at its history, Microsoft is the mainstream.
Microsoft's Dynamics AX 2009 business application suite - to which it has just added a free Environmental Sustainability Dashboard capable of providing execs with access to data on their company's fuel consumption, energy use and carbon footprint, amongst other performance indicators - is aimed squarely at midmarket firms (US companies tend to define midmarket organisations as having revenue of less than $1bn a year, which means they are still pretty hefty by my reckoning, but are still not quite at that global level where green commitments have become an almost default corporate reality).
The new functionality provides ample evidence that Microsoft is convinced the need to track environmental performance will not be confined to the big beasts of the business world for long.
Moreover, the addition of environmental reporting to its Dynamics suite shows Microsoft wants to provide the standard tool mid-sized firms use to keep track of their green performance.
The company's Dynamics strategy - born way back in 2002 when Microsoft went on a spending spree and snapped up a number of business application software developers - has always been about replicating the dominance of the desktop the company has achieved through Windows and Office in the business application market.
Industry watchers may still be divided on the strategy's success, but one fact remains: when Microsoft sets out to dominate a market it usually gets there in the end.
As such we are faced with the tantalising prospect of environmental and carbon reporting software becoming a standard feature of not just the world's largest firms, but the vast global midmarket as well. And once all executives, regardless of their company's size, know how much carbon their organisation is emitting they are in the perfect position to start doing something about it.
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