Supply Chain Information: (Electronic) Information

Sector Name: (Electronic) Information
SIC code: 51

Major Players
Software

  • Microsoft
  • IBM
  • Oracle
  • SAP
  • Ericsson
  • Hewlett Packard

Internet Publishers

  • Interactive Corp IAC
  • Glam Media,
  • Answers Network
  • Daily Motion Network
  • Federated Media Network
  • AOL

Broadcasting

  • Television
  • NBC
  • CBS
  • ABC
  • FOX

Radio

  • Clear Channel Communications
  • Cox Radio,
  • Entercom Communications,
  • Sirius XM

Telecommunication

  • Verizon Wireless
  • AT&T Mobility
  • Sprint Nextel,
  • T-Mobile USA

Internet service providers

  • Comcast
  • Time Warner Cable
  • AT&T
  • Cox
  • Verizon

Movie Theaters

  • AMC Entertainment Inc.
  • Carmike Cinemas
  • Cinemark Theatres
  • Marcus Theatres

Video Game Publishers/Developers

  • Sony
  • Nintendo
  • Electronic Arts,
  • Ubisoft,
  • Take Two
  • Activision Blizzard

Major Issues
The U.S. Census Bureau classifies electronic information companies as any that engage in “(a) producing and distributing information and cultural products, (b) providing the means to transmit or distribute these products as well as data or communications, and (c) processing data.” This guide focuses on companies that are primarily concerned with electronic information.

Major sustainability issues of electronic information sector companies include:

1.     Energy
Many of the businesses and services in this sector require a great deal of energy. Much of the sustainability-focused work in this sector deals with increasing both energy efficiency and the reliance on sustainably-produced energy.

2.     Materials
Sector 51 does not include manufacturers of electronics; therefore issues concerning the use of sustainable manufacturing materials are not directly relevant. However, all businesses in this sector rely on hardware in one way or another. Telecommunication networks, software companies, and television networks always maintain physical infrastructures, which can be key sites of sustainability-oriented work. Similarly, though this sector does not deal with the manufacturing of electronic equipment, information companies can exert influence and pressure on businesses that manufacture electronics to employ more sustainable materials, and increase energy efficiency. Finally, all businesses maintain physical buildings. All companies are interested in employing more sustainable technologies within buildings to reduce utilities costs.

3.     Labor issues
There has recently been much attention given to labor issues within the electronic-information sector. Many jobs have been outsourced to other countries, wages and benefits have been reduced, and jobs are being automated and consolidated, leaving workers overworked and under trained. Therefore, improving the working conditions and compensation of workers represents a key area of sustainability-focused work in the information sector.

Key Requirements
Companies hoping to enter into the supply chains of larger businesses in the electronic information sector should consider their use and sourcing of energy. All businesses are looking for ways to reduce energy consumption and increase reliance on green-energy sources. Small businesses can offer larger information businesses ways to help increase the use of green energy. Similarly, by improving worker conditions and compensation, potential supply-chain partners can offer stories of successful labor relations.

Some large information companies publish supplier expectations that include sustainability requirements. Though this is less common in the electronic information sector, more companies are beginning to integrate clear sustainability criteria for entering into their supply chains.  For example, AT&T, which is one of the more sustainability-focused major telecommunication companies, publishes its own sustainability requirements for suppliers.

Additionally, many large information companies have undertaken a commitment to improving diversity in their supply chains, attempting to include more businesses run by women and minorities.

Key Certifications

Some large information companies have their own certifications or scorecards, like AT&T.

Getting Started
Complete a full sustainability audit of your company, including a life-cycle analysis of your supply chain to understand and document what your company is doing and how it could improve.

Choose and research specific information-sector businesses with which your business hopes to work. Identify key sustainability issues and areas.

Going Further
Work towards specific sustainability certifications (see above).  Create new promotional materials for your business, highlighting your company’s commitment to sustainability.  Write clear company-specific supply chain proposals, outlining ways in which your business can help green larger supply chains.

Advanced Steps
Investigate ways to expand your business to provide additional sustainability-focused services.  Work with labor representatives to improve the conditions and compensation of workers.

Best Practices
AT&T
AT&T has pursued a wide range of sustainability-focused policies and innovations. For example, the company has been increasing its reliance on green-energy sources; in 2011, it relied on green energy for 62 million kilowatt hours of its energy needs. Similarly, the company has been replacing old fleet vehicles with ones that run on compressed natural gas. AT&T has also pursued broad recycling programs for cell phones and other electronics.

AISO.net
AISO is a website hosting company. Running large servers requires a large amount of energy, AISO, unlike many other companies, relies almost entirely on energy that is renewably sourced. The company has also integrated a number of environmentally focused technologies into its corporate offices, including a green roof, low-energy cooling, and recycled water systems.

Google
Google has begun to use seawater-cooling systems in some of its data centers. Data centers require a huge amount of energy, much of which is used to keep the equipment cool; seawater-cooling systems offer an environmentally focused method of cooling. These systems draw cool seawater from far below the ocean’s surface. The cool water is pumped through the equipment and back into the ocean, which absorbs the heat. Seawater-cooling systems require far less energy than other systems, and rely on more sustainable materials.

LMI.net
LMI.net is a local Internet service provider in Berkeley California. By relying almost entirely on solar energy and incorporating sustainably-produced materials, LMI.net offers customers “green internet.” By being a sustainability-focused local business, LMI.net offers an alternate model of Internet service companies.

Key Resources

  • Green Net is a non-profit internet service provider, that also offers some good information about green internet providers.
  • ABI Research created an interesting report on cellphone company sustainability issues.
  • EnergyStar wrote a report to Congress on data-center energy use/issues.
  • CIO published a good article on some of the labor issues seen in the information sector
  • This article from Communication Workers of America offers some information on one information company that has failed to integrate sustainable labor practices.

Key Words:
Green Internet (Internet service that is powered through green energy), Sustainable Telecommunication (Telecommunication services that are powered and supported by sustainable practices), Green Cellphone Providers, Information-business supply chains, Green broadcasting, Green Data.

 

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