IBM is poised to launch a new Green Sigma service based on the popular Six Sigma process improvement methodology and designed to help firms cut the carbon intensity of their business processes.
Speaking to BusinessGreen, Peter Williams CTO of IBM's Big Green Innovations division, said the company had trade marked the term Green Sigma and will soon adopt the new best practice guidelines as part of an internal pilot sceme.
He added that the service builds on the Six Sigma lean manufacturing and process management methodologies and "will focus on ways to develop processes to bring down the carbon intensity of products and processes and create a lean green business".
"We plan to pilot it inside IBM and with some external customers, and then refine it and take it to market," he added.
The company will be hoping that the high profile of the Six Sigma methodologies will give the new Green Sigma service a high level of recognition in a consultancy market increasingly overrun by new green services.
John Madden of analyst firm Ovum agreed the service would enjoy a high level of name recognition and predicted that it should provoke considerable customer interest. "There are a lot of customers out there looking for help on how to improve their green credentials and they will welcome a standardised approach that allows them to meaure their performance," he said. "However, IBM is not alone in trying to provide these types of services and firms such as HP are also offering a growing number of green services."
The planned Green Sigma service is the latest in a line of initiatives from the company designed to position it as a provider of green technologies and services. Williams said IBM was also now offering a range of carbon management services designed to help firms undertake the complex assessments required to help them reduce their carbon footprint.
"Most carbon footprinting calculations are pretty rubbish and miss out large amounts of information," he said. "We've developed complex management diagnostic models that assess the relationship between carbon emissions and other business factors."
He cited plans to reduce packaging around products as an example of a process where failure to consider all the complex variables impacting carbon emissions can lead to unexpected results. "Firms may decide to reduce the amount of cardboard packaging around a product and that will seemingly reduce its carbon footprint," he explained. "But what if that leads to more breakages? The product has to be remade and that can actually lead to an increase in its carbon footprint."
The new consultancy services represent one component of IBM's Big Green Innovations initiative, which was launched last year with the goal of uniting the company's various environmentally-focused R&D projects.
Williams said the division was also making good progress in developing intelligent water management and smart energy grid systems and was also working on exploiting its expertise in nano-technology and semi conductor manufacturing to improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of desalination technologies and photovoltaic solar panels.
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