We are all badly impacted with the price of oil. Yeah it really expensive, now people is the US have a gas that is as expensive as France's prices, shocking! ;).
Anyway, I do not want to talk about cars and gas, but really on the good effect of the expensive oil. I do believe that expensive oil has good impacts, not for my bank account but for the "planet", and may be indirectly for software industry.
First of all, we are all forced to try to save gaz/enegy to save money. So people are thinking more about alternative to "individual car driving": carpooling, public transportations are more often used these days. I addition, people are using public bikes that you can find more and more in cities now. Nantes, where I live has launched its new program "Bicloo". So not only people are changing but I am sure industrials will also adapt to this offering greener alternative to oil for transportation. Personally, I would like to buy a cheap electric car to be able to go in the city, at least to reach the various Park&Ride points. I have to say that I really like the Google RecharcheIT initiative, that is used to charge plug-in hybrid cars... This is enough for the "transportation" and cars....
I believe also that expensive oil will have an impact on the way we do work: we must try to avoid traveling all the time. Some work could be done just using the Internet and good collaborative tools. When most of a work is about: reading mail, phone talks, and meetings all these activities could be done using "IT" isn't?
I used to work from home a lot when I was working for Oracle HQ from France: the working kit is quite simple and not that expensive: laptop, fast Internet connection, VoIP phone, VPN and a Collaborative Suite (webmail, shared calendar, web conference tools, social networks, ...). Using this simple set of tools I was as productive as any employee but without traveling that much. I do not say that we should all work from home or smal local office, but we should try to do it. And limit our endless travels, that burns so much energy for CO2.... Yes all the IT is also consuming energy, but I do believe that it is probably easy to make IT industry "greener" than car industry... (I might be wrong...), but still at the office we will use computers/IT anyway..
So many of the software vendor are offering tools to make us more productive using the "network as the computer" -we all remember this-. One example of tools that in fact is "greener" is eXo Platform. eXo provides all the tools for collaborative work: personalized portal, webmail, chat, shared calendar, ... and soon LiveRoom that is the Web conference/VoIP solution integrated to your navigator (Flex based application). In addition to this, users can also virtualized their desktop using eXo WebOS, and access his work environment from everywhere... I know that other solutions are available on the market, from various vendors such as Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, I have chosen eXo first of all it is an open source project where any user can participate at least by asking from requirements proposing ideas, but also and mainly because its offering is based on industry standards that will help integration to any existing IT systems. (... and also because I am currently working closely with the eXo team...)
In conlusion, we, IT folks can I have some impact on the environment by helping people to be more effective when doing remote work, avoiding useless commute... Clearly, the technologies are avaiable today to help us, to work efficiently from home or "virtual offices" the main constraints are coming from enterprise/management culture.