In touch at Outblaze and Citrix
The emergence of sustainability as a topic on the agendas of engineering and technology companies is prompting enterprises to look for ways to respond with appropriate social, economic, environmental and organisational strategies.
For instance, at digital and web media firm Outblaze, management believes sustainability concepts are an essential part of the business. "We don't really look at sustainability as a separate issue because [it] is part of everything we do," Outblaze founder and CEO Yat Siu says. "It is all about taking a long-term view of our business, people and the community, which is not all about profits."
As part of its sustainability commitments, Outblaze recycles computers and tablet devices by reconfiguring and donating them to schools. It also develops free education apps. And with the help of its staff, the tech firm recently compiled a so-called ThinkBlaze study to determine if the teaching medium - printed paper versus tablets - may impact learning among elementary students.
"By participating in projects that benefit the environment and wider community, our staff members develop a sense of involvement," Siu says.
Outblaze management also considers work-life balance to be an important part of sustainable practices. The company tries to ensure staff members avoid working excessively long hours and encourages the sharing of ideas regardless of job title and seniority.
"Happy people are good ambassadors for our firm and define what we are about and want to achieve," Siu says. "We like a culture that shows we appreciate people joining us, rather than staff feeling they are simply being offered a job."
At Warnaco Asia, which has more than 650 stores spread across Asia, managing environmental and human resources with the help of technological tools is also contributing to its efficiency and sustainability.
Patrick Lamp, the American apparel and textile firm's IT director for Asia Pacific, says that by using virtualisation technology, Warnaco has been able to cut the number of servers required to manage point-of-sales (POS) terminals across the region, from over a hundred machines, down to four or five servers.
"This is particularly important for Warnaco because we have plans to increase outlets to 1,000 by 2013,"says Lamp. "With a small IT team, we are able to upgrade systems and provide assistance to POS users remotely while avoiding costly, time-consuming and labour-intensive operations."
Lamp says that with staff travel reduced, the company has chalked up a near-zero carbon footprint, significant office-space saving, lower power consumption and less air-conditioning. The sustainability impact is amplified because the measures also free up sites for standby IT facilities in case the primary data centre is damaged, he adds.
Indeed, technology is crucial to sustainability initiatives, says Victor Wong, the regional director for Hong Kong and Taiwan at Citrix Systems Asia Pacific, which offers networking, virtualisation and cloud technology services.
He says regardless of size, industrial sector or geographies, virtualised solutions can help companies with their sustainability objectives. "Cloud and virtualisation technologies allow companies to do more with less," Wong says.