More Survey Cynicism: IDC On Green Progress

Written by Evan Schuman
July 17th, 2008

The problem with mom, apple pie and environmentally friendly programs is that everyone wants to support them, which leads to a lot of thin marketing claims slithering in among the legitimate.

So this issue’s Reach Of The Week goes to IT analyst firm IDC and its report released Wednesday (July 16) that its survey of 250 execs "found that there is a growing level of commitment" to supporting green programs. So far so good, but let’s look a little closer at these IDC figures.

Nitpick: Even though this was released in mid-July, the telephone survey actually happened in the winter, running from January through March. No great sin, but given how quickly this data changes, it’s worthy of note.

More material, though, is IDC’s news release that spoke of a "growing" level of commitment. What’s the problem with that? This is the first such survey that IDC has done, so the firm conceded that it had no idea whether the level of commitment—according to its survey—has gone up, down or stayed the same.

The best approach is to not try and characterize this as growing but to simply say what the figures showed. After all, a survey asking about intent to support this kind of program is clearly going to get an overwhelmingly favorable response. Maybe 80 percent; but probably no worse than 70 percent, right?

The actual stat is not mentioned in the news release, but IDC later clarified that it was—wait for it—29 percent. "Across the four company size segments polled," E-mailed IDC Research Manager Judy Hodges, "there is clear indication (29%) that support for green initiatives is emerging."

IDC has a long tradition of excellence in IT analysis and, for years, it was one of the top places to turn to for a good BS detector on IT trend claims. That’s why this is so disappointing. Nowhere is the hype so intense today than with Green claims, and to have a trusted IT voice such as IDC fall into the same pattern is discouraging.


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