Better Buckets: Smarter2020

Published on 4th January 2013 by Larry Vertal

It was nice to see the December release by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) of what is more than just an update to the Smart 2020 report of 2008.   It was more than nice; it is a significant event for ICT.

The central call-out about the report has been that ICT has even a higher POTENTIAL ability to decrease green house gas emissions than the 2008 report concluded.  Net-net the new Smarter2020 report indicates:

 “ Increased use of information and communication technology (ICT) such as video conferencing and smart building management could cut global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 16.5% by 2020, amounting to $1.9 trillion in gross energy and fuel savings ….use of ICT can save 9.1 Gigatonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) of harmful greenhouse gases from being emitted. “

The new estimate is 16% higher than the estimated savings of 7.8 gigatons of the 2008 report.  

All well and good but what is a very-very significant change from the prior report is the restructuring of the analysis in the new report that gives it an even greater POTENTIAL to be used for the industry to report progress against.   

Smarter2020 has better buckets than Smart2020 had.  What made the original Smart2020 report a bit difficult was the broad sweep of Dematerialization claims with the additional “buckets” of Smart logistics, Smart buildings, Smart motor systems and Smart grids.    All good stuff but these buckets are more around enabling technology areas that cross in many cases what are normally considered business segment.   

This made it a bit unwieldy in trying to report progress against by the ICT industry - not that I’m aware that anyone really tried to, having been content to point the wonderfulness of the industry in having the POTENTIAL to have such positive effect.

Smarter2020 identifies potential impacts across six sectors of the economy (buckets): Power, Transportation, Agriculture, Building, Manufacturing, Consumer/Service and nicely identifies key drivers and sub-drivers tagged for the potential to enable specific improvements in the sectors.   In this context it identifies around three dozen ICT-enabled solutions to address energy and greenhouse gas emissions.  

The Smarter2020 report is significant contribution to the industry and a significant advance over the Smart2020 report.   But like the Smart2020 report, Smarter2020 speaks to ICT’s potential to enable a reduction in global CO2 emissions.   But it is a far better structure across key economic segments for the ICT industry to report progress against.   

Now that it is in place, the industry and its organizations have an even better context against to which report progress.   It should make it harder for the industry to continue to just cite point-cases of success and talk only to ICT’s potential value.   The bar of expectation should become higher for the delivery of report outs on real progress against such potentials as identified in Smarter2020.


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Larry is Principal at Lawrence Edward LLC - which provides retainer-based corporate development, strategic advisory and management-services for technology based organizations ranging from start ups to established corporations. Larry is a well known speaker and figure in the industry and was nam ... More

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