SUSTAINABIL(IT)Y : How IT service providers can incorporate sustainability into business practices
Companies all over the world are seeking ways to address sustainability related issues, both to meet external expectations and as a way to find opportunities for growth and innovation. Many attempts have been made in providing descriptions and guidance in how sustainability can be adopted within corporations. However, much of earlier research has focused on the manufacturing industry where materials and production processes are central in the concept. How sustainability can be incorporated in service industries, more specifically by IT service providers (ITSPs), is a somewhat unexplored area even though the potential for sustainability related risks as well as opportunities are high. Previous research in this area that has set out to construct models of this phenomenon has not managed to consider the characteristics of ITservice providers to the fullest.
This study has investigated how ITSPs can incorporate sustainability into business practices through a multiple-case study with four ITSP and one technical consulting company. The data has been collected through interviews and document analysis, and analyzed both separately nd by comparison. Additional interviews were held with experts and professionals with relevant knowledge to strengthen the findings.
This study resulted in model that can serve as an analytical tool and presentation format hen incorporating sustainability in business practices within the IT Professional service industry. The results showed that incorporation of sustainability in practices needs to be divided in two main categories; incorporating sustainability in internal operations and incorporating sustainability in customer offerings. Within these categories the study identified a number of activities that ITSPs can undertake to incorporate sustainability and what outcomes they may have. It was concluded that the activities in within internal operations were primarily focused n building trust towards customers. The study also showed that incorporating ustainability in customer offerings can be done to different extent with different outcomes. The critical activities to successfully incorporate sustainability in customer offerings has been described in the study and visualized in a 3-level map to further provide guidance. A main finding within this category was that interaction with the customer is crucial to successfully deploy service offerings that incorporate sustainability. The results can be generalized to other ITSPs in similar settings and parts can also be argued to be adoptable to other companies in the professional service industry that rely on intense technology.
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