Big PicturenbDuring recessionary times there is more green lost than just money. The recently released CDW 2009 Energy Efficient IT Report shows that as IT budgets get cut, so does the importance of energy efficiency. This is a far cry from 18 months ago when you couldn’t avoid the green topic. Each day it seemed a handful of companies launched green initiatives while vendors touted their new green solutions.

Our work with B2B technology companies requires us to step back and look at the big picture—how do our actions today impact our client’s business 6,9,12, or even 18 months from now? While the pace of innovation and information delivery may travel faster than we can blink, the ROI from new investments rarely zooms along as quick. This instant gratification has clouded the judgment of some and the big picture is completely missed.

The CDW report highlights just that, the need for instant gratification. Cut now at the expense of what might be saved/made in the future. We see this in many industries from manufacturing to hospitality to transportation. What is the impact going to be on companies that quickly shed costs now when the economic environment improves and they are playing catch up? Or when government regulation, such as the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, forces companies to reduce their carbon footprint?

This is by no means limited to energy efficiency. For one of our clients, Infor, we have focused a lot of editorial on the long-term benefits innovative technology can provide companies across several industries. For example, utilizing technology to develop long-term employee plans, maximize the use of their skills, help align the workforce to meet the changing business environment, and minimize the need for mass layoffs. The long-term benefit? Retaining the talent you have spent so long training, minimized ramp up when orders start flocking in and employee / employer work satisfaction.

Marketing, something near and dear to me, gets hit hard anytime the economy goes south. What I’ve noticed in my career is that the companies that kept marketing alive during the tough times became the established voices during the upswing. These companies saw and understood the big picture. They seized the opportunity and the quiet vacancies left by their competitors to establish a foothold in the market. When budgets returned, competitors were busy ramping up their communications and marketing activities (developing updated messages, 6 – 12 month plans, filling the pipelines, etc), while the other companies were firing on all 8 (err, let’s be green here), 4 cylinders and taking mindshare and eventually customers.

It is sort of the chicken and egg question. Unsure how long an economic recovery will take, many purchasing managers, finance managers and CFOs are in a bind. There are definitely two sides to every argument, but I do believe those that make the leap will see great rewards for their efforts.